Diana was a Member of the Royal Horticultural Society. She & her family all love gardening. She enjoys photographing & painting plants too.
It's Always Nice to Have a Garden With All-Year-Round Colour and Interest
In my own garden, I aim for a situation where as one set of seasonal plants die off, there are always others to replace them on a continuing basis throughout the year. With a little practice and research you can find some to brighten up your garden even during the cold winter months.
Set out below is a list of 5 attractive plants which are easy to grow, and further down you can see photographs and more detail about each plant mentioned.
5 Plants for a Winter Garden
1. Hellebores (Also Known as Christmas Rose or Lenten Rose)
There are many varieties, with flowers ranging from white to pale greeny-white to pale mauve and dark mauve. They are perennials , with very ornamental leaves and are mostly evergreen and hardy, growing well in shade or part-shade, flowering in winter and spring and sometimes even beyond.
They grow to a height of 30 cm–1 m (1–3 feet) with a similar spread, depending on the variety.
Hellebores like moist but well-drained soil and mulching them in spring helps to keep in the dampness. Provided the soil has nutrients, they are not fussy about the type of soil, and grow well under deciduous trees where they are sheltered from full sun in summer, but get a little sun in winter.
Dead flower heads and damaged leaves should be removed.
Propagate by division in spring or autumn, or by seed in autumn. Seed-grown hellebores might take a couple of years to establish before they flower.
Be careful when handling hellebores as their sap and seeds are poisonous, so always wear gloves or wash your hands after handling.
These bright flowers usually bloom in late winter to early spring and because they are shade-tolerant, they can adorn difficult areas such as rockeries and shady borders, including dry shade under trees. They look good planted near hellebores and ferns and spring-flowering bulbs.
Cyclamen are hardy perennial low-growing plants with a maximum height of 7–15 cm (3–6 inches). They prefer semi-shade and will grow under trees and shrubs, in soil of any type, even poor soil, as long as it is well-drained. In heavy clay soil, some grit or sharp sand should be added to aid drainage. If the soil is poor, feed them a slow-release fertilizer in spring.
They are propagated by seed or division and will spread by self-seeding. Alternatively, In spring when the earth has warmed up, soak the seeds for a few hours to aid germination, and then plant them. Divided tubers should be planted in autumn.
It helps to remember that cyclamen plants originated from the dry Mediterranean area, so they mainly need watering during their growing period, but should not be overwatered as this may cause rotting. When they are dormant after flowering, they only need watering if conditions are particularly dry.
3. Heuchera (Also Known as Coral Bells)
Heuchera is popular because of its spectacular foliage rather than for its dainty but somewhat insignificant flowers which rise like little dots above the colourful leaves. They are low growing plants with a height from 6–18 inches (15–45 cm) with flower stalks rising to 2 feet (60 cm) or more and a spread of 1–2½ feet (30–75 cm). They prefer bright or dappled shade and the flowers bloom in late spring until midsummer, whilst the leaves are on permanent display.
They are very suitable for planting in rockeries, and beneath shrubs and trees, and as ground cover at the front of flower borders, where they contrast especially well with astilbe and ferns. They also look good in containers, either on their own, or mixed with other plants.
The various varieties come in a large range of light and dark leaf colours, including brown, dark brown, green, pink and purple some with lighter veins, silvery markings and various shapely edges. They look lovely either in a single colour strain, or together in a group of mixed colours. They are particularly useful because they retain their leaves all through the year, sometimes changing colour as the seasons progress.
Many euchera plants are heat and drought tolerant and in general they are disease and pest resistant.
They can be grown from seed but may not grow true to type, so it is better to propagate by division.
They grow best and are more colourful in partial shade (about 4 hours of sunlight a day) in slightly moist but well-draining, humus-rich soil. Compost should be added to heavy clay soil. Although drought-tolerant, they should be watered regularly during dry periods in summer, but usually do not need to be watered during autumn and winter. They are not greedy plants and applying nutrient-rich compost once in spring is sufficient.
There are about 250 varieties of camellias. These evergreen shrubs or trees have thick, glossy leaves of dark green, so give all year round interest, even when not in flower. Their buds start to form in late summer to autumn.
Most varieties of camellia flower in late winter through to spring and grow to a height and spread between 6–15 ft (2–5 m). Some even grow as high and wide as 30 ft (10 m), so it is important to choose the variety carefully, depending on your personal garden requirements. The beautiful flower heads are 5–6 in (12.7–15.24 cm) wide.
They grow best in partial shade and also grow well in containers.They need slightly acidic soil so ericaceous compost should be used. They should be fertilized in early spring and then again three or four months later, with a potassium rich fertilizer, spreading the fertilizer around the plants and then watering well. Coffee grounds are acidic and make a nutritious mulch when added to the soil.
Because the flower buds begin to form in summer, it is important to ensure camellias have sufficient water at this time to stop them drying out and losing the buds.
The best time to prune camellias is straight after they have finished blooming in spring, before the new growth which produces next year’s flowers. However they can also be pruned at any other time.
Pansies belong to the species known as viola. There are winter-flowering pansies as well as pansies which flower at other times of the year so, if they are your choice, you need never be without them.
They like full or partial sun, and thrive in cooler temperatures. The ideal planting site will get morning sun whilst avoiding the hotter afternoon sunshine. They need rich, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter such as leaf mold, compost, peat and sand. For best results, dead-head them regularly, and fertilize them every two to three weeks with liquid fertilizer.
They grow to be about 6–9 inches (15–23 cm) tall with a spread of about 9–12 inches (23–30 cm). They should be planted about 7–12 inches (18–30 cm) apart.
The velvet-textured pansy blooms are very colourful, ranging from dark red and purple to blue, white, yellow, and orange, and every tone in-between, often multi-coloured. So they can be chosen to match or give contrast to any colour scheme in your garden.
I love them, because they can always be relied upon to brighten up a dull patch in the garden or in pots, whilst waiting for one set of plants to start developing flowers after one lot are coming to the end of their season.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Diana Grant
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on April 19, 2021:
I love the look of these. I'll have to see if they are suitable for Florida, though we don't have much of a winter here.