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.
Refer to the following USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map in relation to the listed hardiness zones for each plant.
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.
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If you enjoyed this blog, check out “Creating a Winter Garden.”