Fall & Winter Garden Color

California Native Landscape

One of the advantages of Southern California over the North and the East, is that our mild winters make it possible to plant and grow year-round. Fall is not only a time for garden maintenance and preparation of the soil for spring planting; it is the time to plant for winter and early spring harvests and blooms.

Clients have asked about adding color to their gardens, patios and balconies, so here are a list of 17 winter-blooming plants that offer a range of colors and structure that should do the trick.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

Calendula

Daisy-like calendula provides easy color from late fall through spring in mild-winter climates, and are long lasting in a vase. Choose classic orange and bright yellow, or opt for subtler shades of apricot, cream, and soft yellow.

Branching plants are 1 to 2 feet high and 1 to 1½ feet wide and look great as masses of color or in a container.

Calendula plants take full sun and moderate water. They will tolerate many soils as long as they have good drainage. Remove the spent flowers to prolong bloom.

Candytuft (Iberis)

Candytuft (iberis)

Candytuft plants grow 8 to 12 inches high and wide; their narrow, shiny dark green leaves look great all year.

Pure white flower clusters are carried on stems long enough to cut for bouquets. Choose 'Alexander's White' (pictured), 'Autumnale', or 'Autumn Snow; they bloom in spring and again in fall.

Plants thrive in full sun or part shade and regular water. Candytuft needs well-drained soil and should be sheared lightly after bloom to stimulate new growth.

Cineraria

Cineraria

Made for the shade, florists' cineraria adds intense color to dark corners of the garden.

Cineraria grows to 2 feet high and wide with daisies ranging in color from white through pink and purplish red to blue and purple. Plants need partial or full shade along with regular water and loose, rich soil.

Discard after bloom, even where perennial. Here it's combined with asparagus fern in a 15-inch-wide glazed tetra-cotta pot.

Cyclamen

Cyclamen

Few blooms say winter like cyclamen. Pretty flowers in shades of white, pink, rose, and red are carried atop an attractive clump of leaves. Flowers resemble shooting stars or butterflies.

Large-flowered florists' cyclamen (pictured) is most often seen as a container-grown gift plant though they also make great bedding plants (see cyclamens in a garden).

Smaller-flowered, hardier plants are better adapted to outdoor use, but will be fine in a container as long as it's kept out of direct sunlight. Give them part shade and regular water.

English daisy (Bellis perennis)

English Daisy

Plump, perky English daises make great edging plants. Or slip a few into your lawn for unexpected bursts of color.

Dark green leaves are 1 to 2 inches long and form rosettes to 8 inches wide. Pink, rose, red, or white flowers are borne on 3- to 6-inch stems.

Deadhead to prolong bloom. English daisy needs regular water and prefers a bit of shade in hot climates.

Erica (heather)

Heather

Erica (a Perennial) is grown for small, needle-like leaves that become showered in small flowers. Blooms that may be bell shaped, urn shaped, or tubular.

Plants can be small and mounding, no taller than 6 inches high or a tall upright or sprawling shrub, as high as 6 to 10 feet. Heath needs excellent drainage and acidic soil. Sandy soil amended with organic matter is ideal.

Water carefully and consistently – plants will not tolerate standing water or absolute dryness. Shear or cut off faded flower spikes, but don't cut to bare wood as new growth might not re-sprout.

Hellebores

Hellebores

Plant hellebores for distinctive flowers in winter and spring. Flowers are usually shaped like cups or bells, either outward facing or drooping.

They range in color from white and green through pink and red to deep purple ('Party Dress' is pictured here). Flowers persist beyond bloom periods, gradually turning green.

Plants take full sun or part shade, and moderate to regular water, depending on species. Plant in well-drained soil amended with plenty of organic matter.

Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicaule)

Iceland Poppy

With their tall, leafless stems that dance in the breeze, Iceland poppies are graceful companions to many cool-season plants.

Iceland poppies grow 1 to 2 feet tall; flowers are cream, orange, pink, rose, salmon, yellow, or white. They need full sun and moderate to regular water.

In mild-winter climates, set out plants in fall or winter for months of cool-season color. Pick flowers freely to prolong the show. In cold winter areas, sow seed in earliest spring for summer bloom; or set out plants in fall for bloom the following year.

Nemesia

Nemesia

Nemesia grows to 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide, with small bright green leaves and upright stems.

All nemesia need well-drained soil, full sun, and regular water. Some nemesia have intensely fragrant blossoms; others are unscented.

If you live in a mild-winter climate, you can sow seeds in fall for winter and spring bloom. Pinch to improve bushiness. Remove faded flowers to prolong bloom.

Ornamental kale

Ornamental kale

Giant rosettes of frilly leaves in lavender, rose, white, and creamy yellow make ornamental kales favorite additions to the winter garden.

Because these showy cabbage relatives tolerate cold weather and can hold their brilliant color all the way into spring, they're ideal for display on porches, patios, or beside entryways, or for massing in garden beds. They grow 1 to 2 feet tall.

Plant kale as soon as possible so heads develop fully; the color will intensify in the cold. Plant in full sun or light shade. Water regularly and feed every other week with a dilute liquid fertilizer like fish emulsion.

Pansy

Pansy

These low-growing plants (6 to 10 inches tall) with five-petaled flowers are top sellers year after year for good reason.

They deliver lots of blooms over a long period, come in a huge range of colors ― both solids and bicolors ― and bloom through winter in much of the West. ('Dynamite Blotch' is pictured here.)

The large-flowered, faced varieties may catch your eye first in nurseries. But when planted en masse, nonfaced, single-colored varieties are often more striking.

English primrose

English Primrose

Most primroses bloom in spring or summer, but English primrose (as well as fairy primroses and Chinese primroses) are also excellent choices for winter color.

Circular flowers arise either alone or in clusters from a foliage rosette. English primrose (pictured here) comes in nearly every color and grows 8 to 12 inches high and 9 inches wide.

Primroses can take full sun in cooler climates, part to full shade otherwise. All need regular water.

Snapdragon

Snapdragon

Snapdragons are among the best flowers for borders and cuttings, and they'll bloom all winter in mild-winter climates. (In cold climates, plant in spring.)

Flowers come in many colors and are divided into upper and lower "jaws." Some have double flowers, some are bell-shaped, and some blooms look like azaleas.

Flowers shoot from 1-3 feet tall and 6 inches to 2 feet wide. Set out plants from fall to spring in mild-winter areas. All take full sun and regular water.

Stock

Stock

Plant this old-fashioned favorite for its narrow gray-green leaves and profuse spikes of spicy-sweet smelling flowers. Take your pick of white, pink, red, purple, lavender, blue, yellow, and cream.

Stock varieties range from 1 to 3 feet tall and 10 to 16 inches wide. All perform best in full sun or light shade and appreciate regular water. In cold-winter areas, plant in earliest spring (choose early bloomers).

Stock needs good drainage, so where rainfall is heavy, plant in raised beds.

Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)

Winter Jasmine

The slender, willowy stems of this jasmine stand out beautifully in a winter landscape. Bright yellow flowers appear in winter or early spring, before handsome glossy, three-leafleted leaves unfurl. Don't be disappointed though – the flowers on this jasmine are unscented.

The vine will reach 4 feet high and 7 feet wide if unsupported. Train it on a trellis or wall and it will grow to 15 feet tall. Winter jasmine will grow in less-than-perfect conditions but will be a most prolific bloomer in full sun and good soil.

Cut back heavily before spring growth occurs to keep tidy, and pinch as needed throughout the year to control growth.

Viola

Viola

Like their relative the pansy, violas light up gray days with happy colors and sweet fragrance. They're a wonderful overwintering plant and self-sow readily.

Rain really beats down pansy flowers, but violas bounce back quickly. Violas are smaller than pansies (between the size of a nickle and a quarter) but have more flowers per plant. They come in blue, yellow, white, and cream and bi-colored varieties. ('Penny Mickey' is pictured here.)

Use violas for mass color in borders and edging, as covers for spring bulbs, or for quick color in winter containers.

Garden Consultation & Gift Certificates

If you're interested in learning more about our design, contracting and maintenance services and would like to set up a phone consultation or arrange a site inspection, please fill out our Contact Information Form and I'll be in touch.

In addition to my work as a landscape designer and contractor, I love giving advice and have provided garden consultations to any number of folks with great results.

I am also pleased to offer Garden Of Eva Gift Certificates for those of you who would like to provide a truly unique, thoughtful and very special gift—suitable for holiday giving or for any special occasion. There are three levels of Certificates, depending on the scope of the work involved. If you'd like to see what's being offered, please CLICK HERE.

Check Out Our Blog
“A Gardener's Thoughts & Fancies”

Plant Of The Month
Deer Grassam
Red Twig
Dogwood

Red twig dogwood shrubs provide year-round interest. But despite bearing spring blossoms, variegated leaves in summer, and berries from summer to fall, clearly this plant's common name explains the main reason people grow it: namely, the bush's red twigs, which are brightest in winter.

Elegantissima or red twig dogwoods grow to a height of 8', with a similar spread. They are considered good plants for wet areas (for example, wet spots where homeowners may wish to establish woodland gardens). Work humus into the soil for nutrients. A somewhat acidic soil is preferred. In terms of sunlight requirements, red twig dogwood shrubs will tolerate partial shade, but their signature red bark will be brightest if they are planted in full sun.

Pyracantha berries are not poisonous as many people think although they are very bitter to taste, they are edible when cooked and are sometimes made into jelly.

Shrubs in Landscaping

Red twig dogwood shrubs should be planted somewhere in your yard where they can be easily viewed from a window, to take advantage of their status as top-notch specimen plants for winter landscapes. Use red twig dogwoods in combination with yellow twig dogwoods for an even more stunning winter display. With or without yellow twig dogwoods, red twig dogwoods look best massed together. On a more practical level, the widely-spreading root systems of red twig dogwoods make them effective plants for erosion control.

Pruning Red Twig Dogwoods

The brightness of this bush's red twigs has a tendency to fade over time from winter to summer, and there's not much you can do about that. But through proper care, you can do something about the fact that the older branches tend to be less colorful than the younger ones. Care for this plant amounts mainly to pruning. Prune in late winter.

For maximal color, prune out 1/3 of the older branches every three years or so (or even annually, as long as you don't mind having a plant of a smaller size). Such care will promote new growth; and since the younger branches bear the brightest color, that's precisely the growth that you want to encourage.

Tell A Friend
Send to a Friend
Our Website

Here is a list of our website's pages. Click to see what we have to say about a particular subject.

Unsubscribe
Unsubscribe