Best Plants & Shrubs For Winter

Good Plants and Shrubs For Winter

Looked out at your garden lately?

Wondered what it will look like in another few weeks once the cold has descended, the nights are growing longer and winter is approaching?

Time to get to work!

It's the time of year for throwing out annual flowers and cutting back the browning grasses which have given us some lovely Summer colour in our gardens.

Perennials can be covered in straw if they're half-hardy or raised into pots for a winter in a greenhouse. That will leave quite a few gaps to fill.

There are lots of good winter plants and shrubs to fill the gaps!

Whether you have a garden the size of a postage stamp, a humble window box or a sprawling acreage, Autumn is a time for clearing out the old and getting your garden ready for the new.

And no matter where you are in the Western world there are great winter plants and shrubs (lots of them flowering or variegated) to add colour from October all the way through to next Spring.

My garden looked like this last year.  This year I want colour not wintry desolation!
My garden looked like this last year. This year I want colour not wintry desolation!
Pine trees - they make great 'boundaries' and they look SO pretty.
Pine trees - they make great 'boundaries' and they look SO pretty.

Preparing For Winter Weather


We can't really know what the weather will be like every winter.

In the UK, we suffered one of the worst winters in history last year and for most of us, our gardens were snowy blankets for most of December and January.

It is possible, even in snow, to enjoy some colour in winter.

There are lots of plants and shrubs which will fit the bill. The internet is a brilliant place to start looking with many nurseries selling winter plants and shrubs online for great prices.

Your garden can often be somewhere to look out and de-stress because it's your pretty, little haven.

Why should that change just because it's cold outside?

You can use Autumn to find plants, shrubs and flowers and plant in October and early November before the sharper frosts set in.

By the time winter rolls around, your garden could be well on its way to a blanket of colour.

Pyracantha is not unlike holly.  You can be pretty brutal with it and it will still be good to you.  Another good berry shrub is Skimmia Japonica.
Pyracantha is not unlike holly. You can be pretty brutal with it and it will still be good to you. Another good berry shrub is Skimmia Japonica.

Winter Shrubs & Plants


Pyracantha Saphyr Orange, often called 'Firethorn' is a mass of dark green leaves studded with red berries.

A really pretty winter addition to your garden. Pyracantha needs to be looked after though because once it takes hold, it can get a bit out of control.

It is very thorny so needs to be cut back regularly (but wear good gloves). It can live up to a good pruning every year and will repay you will new shoots every time.

It makes really good hedging, planted against walls and fences (it is listed by the Metropolitan Police as a 'natural protector'), because burglars don't fancy jumping into its thorny mass.

It also makes a really good architectural plant with some imaginative trimming and shaping.

A great edition to your winter garden, which will last for years and years.

Erica Carnea - a mass of beautiful, tight, pink flowers.  Excellent ground cover.
Erica Carnea - a mass of beautiful, tight, pink flowers. Excellent ground cover.

Erica Carnea is a wonderful plant for ground cover in winter so you can fill up a lot of the empty spaces left by your summer annuals and lifted perennials.  

Erica Carnea needs ericaceous compost or an acid soil though it can tolerate slightly alkaline soil.

It flowers best in sun or partial shade and you'll see it at its best from January to March.

A beautiful mass of pink flowers on dense green foliage.

Wonderful dark green foliage with pretty yellow flowers; a sight for sore eyes in a snowy garden.
Wonderful dark green foliage with pretty yellow flowers; a sight for sore eyes in a snowy garden.
Jasmine also comes with white flowers, though they can be harder to track down.
Jasmine also comes with white flowers, though they can be harder to track down.

Winter Jasmine

Jasmine is so pretty and is worth having just for its delicacy at an often harsh time of year.  A good way to plant it is in amongst already established clematis. 

In any event, it needs to be tied into a structure or fence but will give you pretty yellow flowers and height so even the snow won't spoil the effects.

Helleborus Niger or 'Winter Rose' will give you white flowers in winter and even in snow, white flowers look aesthetically pleasing.

Helleborus Niger also makes a nice 'living Christmas gift' if your friends and family are interested in gardening.

Once planted it is a mass of clustered light green and white flowers on strong stems, it forms bold clumps of deeply divided evergreen foliage.

I've included it because it's so pretty. It should grow to about 18 inches and like most roses, it can survive almost anything.

Honeysuckle - all year interest which shines in winter because it has colour and fragrance - makes you want to venture out a bit more often.
Honeysuckle - all year interest which shines in winter because it has colour and fragrance - makes you want to venture out a bit more often.

Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) remains a firm favourite in gardens across the world because it is pretty and fragrant.  It provides interest in gardens throughout the year but thrives well in milder winters, giving good interest and colour from December to March.

Asters - always a pretty sight on a winter's morning.
Asters - always a pretty sight on a winter's morning.
Delphiniums - colour and height.
Delphiniums - colour and height.
Good ground cover, dense, colourful flowers.
Good ground cover, dense, colourful flowers.
Rudbeckia-A sight for sore eyes in a snowy garden.
Rudbeckia-A sight for sore eyes in a snowy garden.

Cheap and Cheerful Colour

You can plant camellias if they can survive in your area and everyone loved them; delicacy, colour, texture and shape make them a favourite in any garden.

But the best way to get some cheap and cheerful colour is by visiting local nurseries or even your local B & Q and plants lots and lots of bulbs.

For early Autumn colour Asters, Delphiniums, Rudbeckia and Sedum will give colour when summer flowers are fading (and being binned).

For flowers in December, Argyranthemum are good as are Camellias. There are also a number of clematis which really shine in December, Clematis Cirrhosa van Balearica does well; good varieties are 'Freckles' and 'Wisley Cream' - wonderful colours with variegation.

You will get a good showing from December to February but like most clematis, they will need trellis and staking to help them to climb.

I love clematis because in general, they're pretty inexpensive. The two varieties mentioned can survive in about -5 degrees but not much colder than that.

Dainty crocus - we start looking for them in early Spring and they never disappoint.
Dainty crocus - we start looking for them in early Spring and they never disappoint.

Bulbs

Still in the cheap and cheerful category are bulbs.

Plant bulbs in Autumn for late-winter (if it's mild) or early spring flowering.

Daffodils, crocus, tulips, iris, snowdrops and bluebells can fill up the borders in your garden throughout the months of February to April in readiness for your annuals to be planted and if planted in 'drifts' they can look rather spectacular.

Crocus can be planted into lawns for a nice colourful blanket when it's still too early in the year for the lush green grass.

I like to plant bulbs in clumps of 5 or 6 together, you get a much better effect and lots of vibrant colour dotted throughout your garden.

They are very inexpensive and will come back year after year - if that's not good value for money, I don't know what it.

And you don't need too much to get to work. There are some great winter plants and shrubs out there and often they are inexpensive and will come back year after year. So what's stopping you, you really ony need 3 key things to have great colour and interest in your winter garden :-

  1. The right tools
  2. Good gardening gloves
  3. Enthusiasm! Good Luck and Happy Gardening.

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Comments 13 comments

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Mary, no I do not believe that. I believe she has someone else do it for her whilst she watches from the house with a large G&T in her hand :o)


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

You know I love my garden! Here in s. Fl. we are lucky to have beautiful flowers year round. You will love this: I read Martha Stewart Living magazine. In this month's issue, she tells about how she wraps her shrubs for the winter in burlap, and sews the seams closed! Do you believe that?

Great Hub, voted it UP, and shared.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Mike, Oh you lucky thing! I would love to be in Southern Europe for the winter and I would still be out in my garden, all the more because of the sunshine :o)


Mike Robbers profile image

Mike Robbers 4 years ago from London

I adore everything that has to do with gardening and I really loved reading the information on this hub.

I live south in Greece though at the moment and I rarely see snow. So it is quite non-practical to think about plants that can endure the cold and then bloom early in April ..

The photographs are just lovely and you did a good job with the descriptions. Voting up and Sharing this hub :)


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Pavlo, many thanks for your comment - we're still in 'Summer' (inverted commas because it has not been very warm) so the desolation will set in soon and I will be out shopping for some winter colour in the garden.


Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

Pavlo Badovskyy 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

I also wrote a hub about winter gardening. Honeysuckle in Ukraine is absolutely a summer plant. I have it and it was totally frozen out all above the snow level this winter (but grew up well this summer and already blossoms). Interesting hub!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Lyricwriter, I clearly missed your comment months ago, apologise for this extremely tardy response -and thanks!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

This hub is getting some love at the moment, not sure why since it is now Summer in the Northern hemisphere but I'm delighted nonetheless :o), many thanks for your comment Victoria.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Kelley and Carter06, thanks for your comments, much appreciated. Carter, this year we are having a shocking Summer (so far at least) :o)


carter06 profile image

carter06 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

Such a well written hub and great info for gardeners...voted up & awesome...p.s you did have a shocker of a winter last year!!!


kelleyward 4 years ago

I haven't heard of winter jasmine! I'll look to see if it is hardy where I live. Great hub Jools! Voted up and shared! Take care, Kelley


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

I had no idea about all these plants for winter. I love your photos. Well done on this hub. It should definitely have more comments, as I'm sure a lot of gardeners and home owners would love to have this information. Sharing with followers!


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 5 years ago from West Virginia

This is a very useful article Jools. I like all your illustrations. You make a good point. During the winter, you get that gray dull winter look to the yard and garden. Why not add some color. This article tells you what you can do. Voted up!

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