(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on December 27, 2009. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)
While a winter-flowering garden may not look as lush and colorful as the summer garden, it has its own calm beauty; it's all part of the many moods of nature. A winter flowering garden will help you beat the winter doldrums by getting you outside even for a little while. Although there is a dead of winter where not much will flower, you can plant the right plants to make the gap between fall and spring much smaller.
There are some excellent ways to create a winter flowering garden; it all depends on the look you want. If you have the space, you can make a garden just for winter flowers. It may not be much to look at in the spring and summer, but with most plants you will have some nice foliage. You also have the option of using containers. You can add winter beauty by keeping your containers going with winter flowering plants. There is also the option of mixing winter flowering plants in your flower beds. This idea is my favorite because as things fade, new flowers emerge almost seamlessly. If you plant something for all bloom times you will create a nice transition.
Late fall blooming plants are great to start your winter flowering garden. If you keep them deadheaded and watered, you can keep them going until the first hard frost.
- Heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)
- Chinese gentian (Gentiana sino-ornata)
- Obedient plant, false dragonhead (Physostegia virginiana)
- Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Esther Reed')
- New York aster (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii)
- Russian stonecrop (Sedum kamtschaticum)
- Showy stonecrop and other ground cover sedums
- Candytuft Iberis 'Alexander's White'
- Garden mums
Heath aster Chinese gentian
New York aster Candytuft shrubs and trees also bloom during this time.
- Crocus most varieties
- Trumpet narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'
- Scotch heath, winter heath (Erica carnea)
- Feburary daphne (Daphne mezereum)
- Helleborus or lenten rose
- Japanese Pieris
Snowdrops Crocus Helleborus Winter daphhne
The time from late winter to early spring is the home stretch; the hard part is over. Somehow we managed to survive along with our gardens. The flowers that bloom during this time are proof that spring is near and we need to get ready. Enjoy this time because it won't be long before we will be out dividing, planting and sweating.
- Blackfoot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)
Reticulated iris Primula Dianthus
Creeping phlox Lungwort Allium Pansy Blackfoot daisy
- Lungwort, (Pulmonaria 'Berries and Cream') and many other lungworts
- Ornamental comfrey
- Persian stonecress (Aethionema schistosum)
- Bulbs such as allium, narcissus, tulips, hyacinth
- Alpine rock cress
- Siberian squill
- Creeping phlox
- Primrose (Primula)
- Anemone, Grecian windflower
- Some English daisies
- Bergenia cordifolia
- Viola and pansies
- Reticulated iris and other iris types
Planning a flowering winter wonder isn’t hard. Start by shopping the nurseries early; many retailers sell things as they flower. Check PlantScout for vendors that have some winter-blooming plants available. Many people pass up winter-blooming plants because they are eager for spring and summer flowers, so remember to include them in your spring purchases. Now is a good time to take a look at your winter space and plan a serene winter flowering wonderland.
- Thumbnail courtesy of kennedyh
- Heath aster courtesy of frostweed
- Chinese gentian courtesy of Todd_Boland
- New york aster courtesy of Daylilyslp
- Candy tuft courtesy of kniphofia
- Snowdrop courtesy of Galanthophile
- Crocus courtesy of Todd_Boland
- Winter daphne courtesy of growin
- Primula courtesy of altagardener
- Creeping phlox courtesy of Todd_Boland
- Lungwort courtesy of Galanthophile
- Blackfoot daisy courtesy of frostweed
- All other photos are the author's