If winter finds you longing for those riotous colors of spring and summer, cheer up. You can enjoy a colorful winter that rivals spring blooms and fall foliage for sheer variety and color. There are lots of colorful plants that love the cold, and some even bloom in the snow! Here are just a few to consider.
There are also quite a few hardy vegetables that produce in winter.
Hybrid Witch Hazel
(Hamamelis × intermedia)
USDA Zone 5
Blooms January to March.
Hybrid Witch Hazel reaches 10 to 20 feet, with some reaching nearly the same width. They offer a riot of color in the fall when their foliage turns brightly colored hues that depend on the variety grown. Long, glorious blossoms abound along the branches from deep winter until early spring. The Chicago Botanic Garden has over 20 different cultivars of Witch Hazel hybrids growing side by side in Zone 5. If you’re in the Chicago area, you shouldn’t pass up the chance to see so many different types bloom at once in February.
American Witch Hazel, (Hamamelis virginiana) would make a great complementary planting. Native to the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and Missouri, it’s hardy down to Zone 3. The roots and bark are the sources of witch hazel extract found in drug stores. Its foliage turns rich yellow in the late fall and it blooms deep purple at that time, instead of in the deep winter.
Oriental Hybrid Hellebore
USDA Zone 5a to 8b
Flowers January to early March.
The perennial hellebore is remarkable for its characteristic ability to bloom in the snow. Even in the depths of winter, the hellebore adds colorful life to a monotonous winter landscape. This might just be the star of your winter show once you see how many colors, details and shapes are available. The hellebore comes in about as many colors as you can dream up. Pink, purple, peach, green and even black, actually a very dark purple. They come with picotee edging, some have contrasting veins and a few have dark or spotted flower centers.
Blooms are profuse, coming in star shapes with singles, doubles and anemones to choose from. There are few garden sights as stunning as a black hellebore blooming against a backdrop of snow.
USDA Zone 5-9
Blossoms February until April.
This historic favorite is available in a dazzling array of colors, blooms profusely and can take a variety of sunlight conditions. English Primrose averages about a foot tall with clusters of flowers averaging 8-10 inches across.
USDA Zone: 3-8
Bloom time is February-March.
The Winter Honeysuckle shrub offers a profusion of 3/4″ long yellow and white cascading flowers, closely followed by bright red berries in early springtime.
No More Drab Winters
Planting these choices strategically throughout your landscape and garden will keep the sunshine bright colors around all through those long winter months. Garden strolls will be a great attraction for children and holiday visitors. Back inside, you can impress them just a little more with fresh veggies from your indoor winter garden. Gardening doesn’t have to be limited to one particular stretch of the year. You can have bright, cheery color no matter what the season!