The weather is getting chillier, and the beauty of a garden in the spring and summer is becoming a distant memory. But just because winter is on its way does not mean your garden has to die; there are plenty of plants that survive winter. Here is a list of ten winter flowers and winter garden plants that will help keep your garden looking beautiful all year long.
Though the coneflower does not maintain its beautiful purple coloring in freezing temperatures, it will come back in the spring, strong as ever, if properly cared for in the offseason. Hardy to Zones 3-9, the coneflower loves sunlight. They should be planted where they can get full sun. After these flowers go dormant, trim the dead stems and stabilize with 1-2 inches of mulch for protection.
Lily of the Valley
Despite its delicate appearance, the lily of the valley is a tough plant. It can tolerate shade, making it an ideal candidate for a spot that only gets partial sun. Additionally, its poisonous nature makes the plant resistant to deer and other animals.
The blue spruce tree is a perfectly picturesque winter plant. Not only does it look beautiful covered in snow, it is hardy in Zones 2-7, making it suitable for a large portion of the United States. This tree prefers full sun and serves as a great audio, visual, and wind screen. Beware of using insecticides on this tree, as they can strip away the needle coating that gives the blue spruce its hue.
The wintergreen boxwood is another plant that looks great in a snow blanket. Its shallow roots require significant mulch covering for winter protection. Hardy to Zones 4-9, the wintergreen boxwood is very versatile and can therefore be manipulated for use as a hedge. This type of boxwood is more resistant to common boxwood pests than are other variations.
The combination of the catmint’s stunning purple coloring and its fragrant nature makes it a great, hardy alternative to lavender. Moreover, this flower is especially resilient. In addition to being resistant to deer, it tolerates partial sun, drought, and even poor soil conditions.
Coral Bells (Heuchera)
Coral Bells make great additions to shady areas, but require well-drained soil. These flowers are hardy to Zones 3-9, and should be moved to the ground in anticipation of the first frost if they are planted in a container.
This edible flower is hardy to Zone 4. Though the pansy can survive surprisingly low temperatures, it is important to employ frost-protection techniques in the winter, such as covering them with mulch or pine straw. This will also protect them from strong winds that can dehydrate the ever-thirsty pansies. Pansies can even be planted in late winter so they are ready for early-spring flowering.
Hostas are hardy to Zone 3 and like partial sun. Their short, fleshy roots should not be exposed to frost, so make sure to cover with mulch. The large surface area of the hosta plant allows for quicker dehydration, so the mulch will help to retain moisture in the soil. Otherwise, hostas do not require much winter protection.
Winterberries are an iconic winter plant, as they are commonly associated with winter decor. Planted in autumn, these plants are hardy to Zone 2, allowing for some pretty chilly weather. Winterberries like full sun and moist soil, and will add great color to your winter garden.
Like hostas, primroses have shallow roots that should be protected by mulch in the winter to retain moisture. Also a popular plant with fairy gardens, primrose is hardy in Zones 3-8 and prefers light shade.
Preparing Your Garden For Winter
- Plant bulbs that flower in the spring
- Pull up any dying plants/remove dead leaves
- Drain garden hoses and irrigation systems so water does not freeze inside
- After the first killing frost, cut back perennials
- Note: If you do this too early, you could deprive your plant of nutrients it needs to survive the winter
- Spread compost throughout your garden to provide it with a blast of nutrients to last the winter
- Tip: Compost the leaves you rake from your yard
- Label your garden so you know where not to plant come spring
- Tip: Write plant names on popsicle sticks with permanent marker and stick them into the soil
- Right before the first freeze, cover the garden with mulch to protect the plants from harsh temperatures
- Tip: Don’t do this too early. If you do, mice may take up residence in the mulch and feed on your plants. Give the mice time to find other winter homes.
First impressions are everything. The experts at Ambius have the expertise and capability to transform your exterior and impress people before they even step foot in your door. Learn more about our exterior landscaping services here.
If you enjoyed this blog, check out “Creating a Winter Garden.”
- Plants and Flowers That Can Withstand Canadian Winters
- Landscaping Design Tips to Keep Your Garden Lush with These Gorgeous Plants that Survive Winter Weather
- How Do Some Plants Survive the Winter?
- What Flowers Survive (And Grow) In the Fall and Winter Seasons?
- What Plants Survive (And Grow) In the Fall and Winter Seasons?
- Bonus: Vegetables That You Can Grow Through the Winter
- Growing Annuals: Flowers For Winter
- 20 of the Best Plants for Winter
- 1. Pansies
- 2. Crocus
- 3. Primrose
- 4. Boxwood
- 5. Violas
- 6. Cyclamen
- 7. Snowdrops
- 8. Winterberry
- 9. Camellias
- 10. Winter Jasmine
- 11. Holly Bush
- 12. Daffodils
- 13. Bugleweed (Ajuga)
- 14. Christmas Berry
- 15. Creeping Thyme
- 16. Japanese Yew
- 17. Christmas Rose (Helleborus)
- 18. Wintercreeper
- 19. Cabbage
- 20. Kale
- Zone 9 Plants That Flower In Winter – Ornamental Winter Plants For Zone 9
- Popular Zone 9 Plants That Flower in Winter
- Perennials that Burst Into Color For Fall
Plants and Flowers That Can Withstand Canadian Winters
Landscaping Design Tips to Keep Your Garden Lush with These Gorgeous Plants that Survive Winter Weather
Whether you’ve recently upgraded the landscaping around your home or are planning to make a change come spring, if you’re a Canadian resident, consider adding gorgeous plants and flowers to your landscape design that survive (and thrive) throughout harsh Canadian winters.
With these winter landscaping plant tips from your local Ottawa landscaping professionals, your garden can survive and be beautiful year-round, even in the coldest weather.
How Winter Weather Affects Plants
Cold weather slows down plant growth. In winter, the lack of sunlight prevents green plants from photosynthesizing and creating food and the below-freezing temperatures stop water circulation in the plant’s sap. While some plants can survive winter, others will die.
How Do Some Plants Survive the Winter?
Cold-resistant perennials and other plants survive the winter in a resting stage underground. They store nutrients in storage organs, such as bulbs, tap roots, and tubers, throughout the spring and summer. During this time they rely on their storage organs to survive while resting underground.
Other plants, such as trees and shrubs, are hardy enough to survive the winter above ground.
What Flowers Survive (And Grow) In the Fall and Winter Seasons?
Here are some of the best flowers that will either grow or survive underground in fall and winter.
Red Twig Dogwood
Known for its vibrant red twigs, the Red Twig Dogwood stays red year-round, making for a nice complement to evergreens in your winter garden.
If shielded from the wind, this winter flower will add a burst of colour to your snowy garden.
This herb can withstand the coldest winter months and is an excellent addition to soups and teas. It helps clear bronchitis and mucus as well.
Also known as Echinacea, most varieties of this pretty wildflower are hardy to Zone 3 or 4. To help them survive the winter and look beautiful next summer, cut down the stems and add 3 to 4 inches of mulch for insulation.
This frost-resistant flower thrives in shady gardens and most soils and climates since it is hardy in Zones 2 to 7. It’s so tough, it can take over your garden if you don’t keep an eye on it.
The Siberian Iris isn’t only resistant to cold winters, being hardy in Zone 3, but it is also animal pest-resistant and can handle both wet and dry soils. This flower blooms in late spring to early summer.
‘Purrsian Blue’ Catmint
This beautiful flower is super tough, staying in bloom from early summer to the fall frost. And then lasting through winter with silver foliage. ‘Purrsian Blue’ Catmint is also deer resistant and drought tolerant.
Cyclamen blooms in fall with stunning flowers. And it has lovely winter foliage that lasts until spring.
What Plants Survive (And Grow) In the Fall and Winter Seasons?
Here’s a look at some of the most popular outside plants for winter, due to their appearance and resistance to cold weather.
A favourite Christmas decoration, the Winterberry is a deciduous holly that has bright red berries throughout the winter. It’s also a favourite food among birds that stick around Ottawa for winter.
Birds also love Snowberry shrubs. While these shrubs are known for their white bulbs and berries, they also come in different colours, like pink and red. The berries grow in autumn and last into the winter.
Firethorn shrubs add colour to the landscape year-round. These shrubs flower from spring to mid-summer. And then, in autumn and winter, they grow red, orange, or yellow berries.
This evergreen is drought-resistant and can withstand the harshest North American winters. This plant is ideal for growing in a pot, as ground cover, or as a tree—being able to grow more than 50 feet high if allowed.
Boxwood Hedge is a favourite for landscaping in Ottawa. It can withstand the frigid winter weather and keep your garden looking green.
This slow-growth evergreen shrub is small and has stunning yellow-green leaves. It can reach two feet in height and width.
This evergreen can withstand the arctic cold of Siberia, so it will undoubtedly survive Ottawa’s frigid winters. Its vibrant mint green changes to a purple-brown once the cold weather arrives.
Hosta grows back bigger and better every spring after even the harshest winters.
Perennials are known to last the winter, resting until the warm weather returns. To help your perennials rest through the freeze/thaw cycle, trim back dead foliage and cover with mulch for insulation.
The following are some hardy perennials that will survive Ottawa’s toughest winters.
This succulent can withstand Zones 3 to 4 winters. To add winter interest, consider leaving the seed heads on the plant. One member of the sedum family—Dragon’s Blood—turns red in autumn.
These pretty perennials have a long lifespan and actually need a cold period in order to have a healthy bloom in spring. To help them bloom spring, trim back dead foliage in autumn.
Also known as Bee Balm, Monarda is rich in nectar and is hardy to Zone 4. It can grow up to three feet tall, and it develops stunning flowers in white, pink, red, orange, and purple.
Many varieties of this gorgeous pink-and-yellow nodding flower are hardy to Zone 4. To help Wild Columbine and other perennials survive well in the winter, consider lightly covering their garden beds with shredded fall leaves.
Bonus: Vegetables That You Can Grow Through the Winter
Save money and enjoy the bounty of your own vegetable garden with these veggies that can grow through winter.
Broccoli can withstand below-freezing temperatures and can be harvested in late autumn or early spring.
Ornamental Cabbage & Kale
These are some of the most popular winter annual plants since they are able to survive most cold weather.
Collards tolerate freezing temperatures, and can even be harvested throughout the winter in Zone 8 and higher. Collards will taste sweeter if harvested after a frost.
While not as cold-hardy as kale and collards, Swiss Chard can handle the first and last frosts of the winter season.
Spinach will survive the winter months. Just be sure to harvest it in late summer and keep it protected over the winter.
While lettuce grows better in spring and autumn, you can keep it growing indoors throughout the winter.
Potato crops can thrive in cold winters. They just need nutrient-rich soil, mulch, and protection from pests.
Although Ottawa gets unbearably cold in winter, you can still have a beautiful garden year-round with the right plants and flowers. Talk to your local Ottawa landscaping experts to design a lush, vibrant garden that will survive and even thrive in the cold fall and winter months.
In 2008, following a successful career as a member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team, Jonathan Robert stepped into the landscaping industry, starting Jonathan Robert Landscapes. In the years since he’s quickly earned a reputation for high-quality work with creative designs and has been recognized in several industry-leading publications. Jonathan’s always got an eye on innovation and is always looking ahead to see what’s on the horizon in the industry. He works hard to stay on top of current guidelines, practices, and regulations. Jonathan is a member of Landscape Ontario, the International Concrete Paving Industry (ICPI), Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA), and is a Tech-Pro contractor.
Growing Annuals: Flowers For Winter
Fill your landscape with some cool-season color this winter by trying a few of these annuals. All hold their own in pots or planting beds, unless noted.
This flower’s ruffled blue blooms create carefree drifts of color perfect for planting beds. This cottage garden favorite also comes in pink and white and is ideal for bouquets. Blooms beckon Butterflies; seedheads lure birds.
Plants self-sow freely. Remove spent flowers to limit self-sowing. Look for seedlings or sow seed in fall in warm zones; in cold regions, sow seed outdoors in spring 7-14 days before the last frost date. Check with your local Cooperative Extension System website for assistance.
Plant Size: 12-36 inches tall, 12-18 inches wide
Where To Use: Well-drained soil in full sun to light shade; plants tend to droop in too much shade
The Daisy-like Calendula flowers unfurl in a variety of colors, including traditional yellow, deep orange, pastel hues and bicolor blends. Flowers may be single or double and can self-sow.
Pinch seedlings to encourage branching and more blooms. Removing spent blossoms promotes more flowers to form. Petals and leaves are edible. Add fresh or dried to salads, soups, or rice, or use blooms to garnish desserts.
Plant Size: 12-24 inches tall and wide
Where To Use: Fertile, well-drained soil in full sun; provide afternoon shade in hottest zones
These plants feature spikes of clove-scented flowers open in shades of pink, purple, white, lavender, red and yellow. Blooms may be single or double and beckon pollinators. Leaves are a gray-green shade.
Use plants near outdoor seating areas, walkways or entries where you can savor the rich fragrance. Snip spent flower spikes to encourage more flowers to form.
Plant Size: 12-36 inches tall, 9-18 inches wide
Where To Use: Consistently moist, humus soil in full sun to light shade
Dainty Snapdragon-like blooms blanket these plants with strong color. Look for flowers in shades of purple, blue, yellow, white, red and many hues in between. Nemesia like soil that’s consistently moist; barely allow soil to dry out between waterings.
Many new varieties don’t need spent blossoms removed, making this a low-maintenance charmer. Read plant tags to see if you’re purchasing a plant that requires deadheading.
Plant Size: 12-18 inches tall, 6-12 inches wide
Where To Use: Evenly moist, well-drained soil with organic matter; full sun to light shade, especially during afternoon
Pansy & Viola
For a non-stop color show, include Pansy and Viola in your planting designs. These cheerful bloomers feature friendly flowers that appear all winter long in warm regions. Think of Violas as a miniature Pansies, with dainty blossoms and a smaller stature.
Look for Pansy and Viola blooms in any color you like, from solids, to bicolors, to watercolor blends. Petals may or may not have traditional whiskers and faces. Plants are typically clump forming, but new trailing types are available.
Plant Size: Pansy: 4-10 inches tall, 9-12 inches wide; Viola: 6-9 inches tall, 6-12 inches wide
Where To Use: Moist, well-drained soil that’s been enriched with organic matter; full sun to light shade
Snapdragon is a classic cottage garden flower, opening spikes of blooms with hinged petals that open and close like a dragon maw. Look for flowers in nearly every shade but true blue. Tall types are perfect for cutting.
Pinch seedlings at planting to promote branching. Staking tall types keeps stems straight. New heat-tolerant Snapdragons continue flowering into spring and summer.
Where To Use: Moist, well-drained soil with organic matter; full sun
A ground-hugging annual beauty, Sweet Alyssum forms mats of color with dainty blooms in shades of purple, white, pink and apricot. Fragrant flowers boast a honey scent; plants attract pollinators.
Sweet Alyssum makes a great edging or front-of-the-border plant. It also thrives in rock gardens or tucked between flagstones. Avoid soggy soil, which kills plants.
Plant Size: 4-9 inches tall, 6-12 inches wide
Where To Use: Well-drained, gritty soil; full sun; afternoon shade in hottest zones
Annuals For Heat
After cool weather fades but before summer starts to sizzle, replace spent cool-season annuals with annuals that can take the heat. These heat-loving plants keep your landscape supplied with non-stop color as the mercury soars.
20 of the Best Plants for Winter
Gardeners who live in colder climates where winter brings frosts and freezes often think they can only enjoy vibrant foliage and colorful blooms in the warmer months of spring and summer. But there are many winter plants that keep your garden looking attractive and welcoming even when the temperature drops below freezing.
If your outdoor living areas could use a boost of color to enhance their visual appeal in winter, check out these 20 winter plants that will help brighten even the dreariest days.
If you are looking for winter plants that add vibrant color to your flowerbeds, pansies should be at the top of your list. They receive this high rating because they come in so many colors and, when planted in fall, will bloom intermittently throughout winter and into spring. Pansies can also bring color to winter salads, since these beautiful blooms are edible.
If you plan on eating your pansies – or any flowers – make sure you have a strong understanding of which parts of the plant are edible and which are not. You will also need to make sure you grow your pansies without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Crocuses are a good choice for gardeners who live where it snows and who look forward to seeing those first hints of the coming of spring poking up through the snow. While crocuses do not last as long as some other bulbs in the garden, they flower quickly. This means that you can plant them in fall and enjoy blooms by late winter and into spring.
Some varieties of primrose, including English primroses, begin blooming in late winter and early spring. This makes these perennials a good choice for flowerpots, window boxes, flowerbeds, and borders where you are hoping to add a splash of color in colder months. Primroses prefer partial to full shade, so they are also a good choice for shady spots in your yard.
Boxwoods are versatile, evergreen shrubs that are just as attractive in a formal, manicured garden as they are in a more casual backyard. They can be carefully pruned into perfect hedges, shaped into topiary or left untrimmed for a natural look. Most importantly for your winter garden, they can withstand colder weather just fine and keep their vibrant, green foliage all year long.
Violas, like pansies, are the perfect addition to winter flower gardens. These hardy bedding plants can survive frost and freezes and will continue to bloom through winter in between these colder spells. If you care for them as you would food plants in your vegetable garden, you can also add edible viola flowers to salads and other dishes to add color to your winter menu.
Choose a hardy variety that can withstand frost, and cyclamen will provide you with lovely flowers in shades of white, pink and red to brighten even the dreariest winter day. Cyclamen is a perennial, flowering plant that can be grown in containers or in the ground. One of its defining features is the unique shape of the blooms, which will increase the visual interest of outdoor living areas when planted near patios or in flowerpots on porches.
Varieties of this low-growing perennial most often bloom in late winter, adding splashes of color to your garden with white blooms that hang down from the stem. Snowdrops are low maintenance and deer resistant, but they are toxic to both humans and dogs, so they are not a good choice for areas where children or pets play.
Winterberry is a type of holly but is not evergreen like other hollies. It may seem odd to include a deciduous option in a list of winter plants, but this one turns into a showstopper after it loses its leaves and shows off its bright red berries all winter long. If you are looking for brilliant colors for your winter garden, this shrub will fit the bill. Keep in mind that you need both a male and female plant in order to have berries in the winter. Some gardeners plant two or three female plants in the spots where they want winter color, and then one male plant nearby to ensure berry production.
Not all varieties of camellias bloom in winter, so it is important to consult with a pro at your local garden center to make sure you get a variety that does. As an evergreen shrub, camellias offer visual interest throughout the year, but they truly shine in winter when much of the garden is dormant and they are stealing the show. With rose-like flowers mostly in white or shades of pink, camellias can be planted during winter while they are in bloom, which means you can see the color of the flowers before you purchase them.
10. Winter Jasmine
Winter jasmine can be planted as a ground cover or in borders to allow it to climb fences or rock walls. While you will not be graced with the delicate fragrance associated with other varieties of jasmine, this is a true winter flower that will bring bright splashes of yellow to your garden in January. This one is deciduous, so it will lose its leaves, but the winter flowers more than make up for its lack of foliage.
11. Holly Bush
Holly is a quintessential winter holiday decoration, so it should come as no surprise that hollies are excellent winter plants. Make sure you choose an evergreen variety to ensure winter color, which includes dark, glossy leaves and bright, red berries. Most hollies are either male or female, so you will need to ask your local garden center for a variety that does not need a male to produce berries, or you will need to make sure you plant both a male plant and a female plant to make sure your female holly produces berries in winter.
Daffodils are another of a small number of winter plants that actually bloom in winter. The brilliant yellow of daffodil blossoms is a welcome treat in late winter when most folks are missing the sunshine. You can plant these bulbs in the fall to fill in spots that are otherwise bare in winter or add these to your cutting garden to have beautiful yellow or white flowers for floral arrangements in late winter and early spring.
13. Bugleweed (Ajuga)
Bugleweed is an evergreen perennial with a maximum height of about eight inches, which makes it a good choice for use as a ground cover. Since it can be invasive, you will need to keep this one pruned and keep an eye out for runners. But it is easy to grow in areas where other options might not thrive, such as in the shade of trees or on slopes. The blue flowers will add vibrant color to your yard in spring and summer, but you can enjoy the foliage throughout the year.
14. Christmas Berry
Christmas berry plants prefer colder weather and will lose their berries when it gets too hot. This evergreen shrub can be grown indoors or outside and can be planted in pots or in the ground. These perennials can be invasive, so consider planting them in containers or borders with a barrier to help control growth. The green foliage and red berries will bring lots of color to your winter garden, while the clusters of white or pink flowers will brighten your yard in spring and early summer.
15. Creeping Thyme
Creeping thyme is a low-growing, evergreen ground cover that will stick around in winter. This fragrant perennial is hardy in zones 4 through 9 and will keep most or some of its foliage throughout winter depending on just how cold your area gets. While you might be looking specifically for winter plants right now, there are many other reasons to add creeping thyme to your yard. For example, it is deer resistant, low-maintenance and can even survive being trampled on by kids and dogs.
16. Japanese Yew
This evergreen shrub has dark green leaves and bright red berries, which add color and texture to your winter garden. Unless you are looking for a tree, be sure to ask your local garden center for a smaller variety that you can use as an accent plant or planted among other evergreens in borders around lawns or outdoor living areas. Yews are particularly toxic with no known antidote, so this is not a good choice if you have children, dogs, horses, or other animals that spend time in your yard.
17. Christmas Rose (Helleborus)
Hellebores flower in winter and resemble wild roses, which is why they are often called Christmas roses; however, they are actually a member of the buttercup family. This evergreen perennial will liven up your yard throughout the year, but is best known for its gorgeous, white blossoms that appear in early winter or midwinter and give you color into early spring.
Euonymus wintercreeper is an evergreen, perennial vine that requires little care and will grow almost anywhere. In fact, it is such an aggressive, fast grower that it is considered an invasive plant. This one is a thug, so do not plant it near desirable plants, since it will take over an entire bed or border while choking out everything in its way. But, if you have a large area where you have not had luck growing other options and are looking for winter color, wintercreeper might be the right choice for you. Look for flowers in late spring and summer, but enjoy the green foliage every month of the year.
Cabbages are not afraid of a little below-freezing weather and add soft shades of green, silver and purple to your landscape. Be sure to plant them before the temperature drops below 40 degrees to allow for germination, and you may want to consider planting a few seeds every couple of weeks between mid-summer and early fall to continue your harvest through winter. Cabbage is a particularly good choice for gardeners looking for attractive, edible winter plants to mix with other plants in flowerbeds and borders. If you are more concerned about looks than flavor, you can also choose ornamental varieties that are even more attractive.
Kale is another edible option for winter gardens that can add color and texture to flowerbeds and borders. Harvest just a few leaves at a time to allow your kale to continue providing healthy, leafy greens throughout winter. When you treat it as a cut-and-come-again green, you will also continue to enjoy the different shades of green the various varieties offer.
As you can see, there are plenty of options to keep your garden looking just as vibrant and welcoming in winter as it is in spring and summer. In general, gardeners living in colder climates will see more success in their garden if they spread a thick layer of mulch around plants in late fall before the first frost. This will help regulate soil temperature and help your plants thrive through winter.
Zone 9 Plants That Flower In Winter – Ornamental Winter Plants For Zone 9
Winter gardens are a great way to bring color to the dreariest time of the year. You may not be able to grow everything in the winter, but you’d be surprised at what you can do if you just plant the right things. Keep reading to learn more about selecting the best ornamental plants for zone 9 winters.
Popular Zone 9 Plants That Flower in Winter
Leatherleaf Mahonia – A shrub that’s hardy from USDA zone 6 through 9. Leatherleaf mahonia produces clusters of small yellow flowers in the winter.
Daphne – An extremely fragrant flowering shrub, many varieties of daphne are hardy in zone 9 and will bloom through the winter.
Winter Jasmine – Hardy all the way from zone 5 through 10, winter jasmine is a vining shrub that produces bright yellow flowers in the winter.
Kaffir Lily – Also called red river lily, this Clivia plant grows in wet areas in zones 6 through 9. Its main bloom time is in the autumn, but it will continue to put out flowers on mild days throughout the winter.
Witch Hazel – Famous for its winter color, witch hazel is a shrub or small tree that produces distinctive bright yellow flowers.
Fashion Azalea – This dense shrub is hardy in zones 7 through 10. Fashion azalea flowers all through fall, winter, and spring.
Snapdragon – A tender perennial, snapdragons can be grown all through the winter in zone 9, when they will put up showy spikes of flowers.
Petunia – Another tender perennial in this zone, petunias can be grown to bloom all through the winter in zone 9. They are especially attractive in hanging baskets.
Here are some annual flowers that grow well as winter plants for zone 9 ornamental gardens:
- Baby’s Breath
Perennials that Burst Into Color For Fall
The best gardens have plants that add color and interest in all seasons. Spring and summer are usually pretty simple to fill with color. It can take a bit more planning to keep the garden looking great late summer into fall and winter. However, with a bit of careful plant selection your garden can brim with interest in every season. This article gives ideas on adding color to your winter garden and using annuals such as pansies, violas, ornamental cabbage and kale, Diascia, Nemesia and Osteospermum – to name a few – are a pretty established way of adding fall color. The plants that are a bit overlooked are perennials and shrubs that flower, fruit or have showy foliage in fall.
Perennials have always been looked to for color that persists over several years. Shrubs are increasingly being seen as adding flower color to the landscape. Carefully selecting and using perennials and shrubs that add color during late summer and fall can freshen up your garden without actually needing to add additional plant material. Here are some plants that will provide flower and/or foliage color during late summer and fall.
Asters and hardy mums are the two most traditional perennials to grow for fall flower color. Hardy mums are about as easy to grow as a perennial gets. They come in great autumnal colors – yellow, bronze, red, white, orange, burgundy and pink and are usually hardy in zones 5-9. When buying mums be sure you distinguish between hardy and florist mums. Hardy or garden mums are perennials. Florist mums are not.
They do need just a bit of maintenance – trim them back between 1 and 3 times. The rule of thumb I’ve always heard is, trim them back several times and then quit on the Fourth of July to get a great fall flower show. The trimming promotes branching and more branching will get you more flowers.
Asters are usually in the white, pink, lavender-blue color range. They come in compact and taller forms and are generally hardy in zones 4-8. Their one drawback is susceptibility to powdery mildew. To combat mildew, select varieties that are less susceptible to the disease (this information should be included in their description) and plant where they will receive plenty of sun and good air movement. Sun and air movement are important because powdery mildew thrives on damp foliage.
One of my favorite plants for this time of year is fall-blooming Sedums. They are heat and drought tolerant, don’t mind poor soils, are generally hardy in zones 4-9 (check specific varieties because some will vary by a zone either way) and begin blooming in late summer. The color range is white, pink, red, burgundy and lavender. Some of my favorites are ‘Pure Joy,’ Garnet Brocade™, ‘Maestro,’ Autumn Joy and Neon.
Heuchera, Coral Bells, such as our Dolce® series are primarily grown for their foliage. Most Heuchera foliage colors deepen, brighten or transform when temperatures are cool. They become more colorful versions of themselves. They will perform in sun and shade and are generally hardy in zones 5-9, but some are hardy to zone 4.
Perennial Hibiscus, such as our Summerific® series, is another class that will add color to the summer and fall garden. They actually start to bloom in mid-summer, but will continue to bloom deep into fall – October up in Michigan. The color range is pink, white, lavender and red, with some gorgeous bicolors. Blooms are often 6-8 inches across. The plants are quite heat tolerant and prefer consistently moist soil. In general, they are hardy in zones 4-9 and are quite large – 4-5 feet tall and wide. However, more compact versions such as Summerific® ‘Cranberry Crush,’ which is 3-4 feet tall, do exist.
Hardy ornamental grasses are another good source of late summer and fall color, with many also adding winter interest. Panicum virgatum, or switch grass, is one good option. This native grass is adaptable to many conditions, but is best when soils aren’t too rich. Rich soils will cause lush growth and the plants will be prone to falling over (the technical term is lodging.) The best foliage colors will occur in full sun, but it can be grown in partial shade. Although it does best with average moisture, it can tolerate drought. Two good cultivars to consider are ‘Cheyenne Sky’ and ‘Apache Rose’
‘Cheyenne Sky’ is a compact form of switch grass, topping out at 3 feet tall, including flowers. The foliage is only 2 feet tall. It is great in landscapes and containers and works well when planted in a mass, although it does well as a specimen, too. It is hardy in zones 4-9. It starts out green in spring, but by late summer the foliage is wine-red, as are the flowers that are in full show. Unless the snow is very heavy, it will remain standing through the winter where it provides cover to birds.
‘Apache Rose’ is a bit taller than ‘Cheyenne Sky’, topping out at 4 feet tall with flowers. It is also hardy in zones 4-9 and is a sturdy landscape plant. The foliage is blue-green, but becomes tipped in burgundy late in the season. It flowers in late summer and also provides good winter cover for birds.
While the purple fountain grasses are annuals, Pennisetum ‘Desert Plains’ is hardy in zones 5-9. It tops out at 4 feet tall and is about that wide. The more sun you can provide, the happier this plant is. In mid-summer the foliage tips begin to turn deep red and by fall the whole plant is shades of gold and orange. It blooms in fall, with the large plumes emerging purply-pink and aging to tan. It is often considered to be the best hardy Pennisetum available.
Take a good look at your garden in late summer and fall and if you think it isn’t all it could be, then consider one of these plants to add extra pizzazz. For more plants to add spice to your fall garden, read Shrubs that Bust into Color for Fall.
Ask a Question or Give Feedback about this article. 280 Readers Rated This: 12345 (3)