How to Plan Your Winter Flower Garden

 


Bring Colour to Your Garden This Winter

Autumn is a great time to prepare your garden for the coming winter months. Your garden does not need to look drab and boring during the cold weather months. Add a dash of colour with some flowering plants that will bring not only a little bit of cheerful colour, but even winter birds that will be attracted to certain flowering plants.

Maintaining your garden during winter also preps it for spring. You can consider closing down your garden when the temperature consistently starts to drop to the low 40’s or mid-30’s (Fahrenheit) around October or November or when frost is forecasted. Take this time to prepare the soil for spring, by turning the soil and adding in nutrients and organic matter such as mulch or compost.

Caring For a Winter Garden

Growing flowering plants is recommended in containers, pots or raised beds. Like vegetables, doing so encourages the soil to absorb heat faster, ensuring that the roots of the plants do not freeze. This helps reduce the possibility of rotting the roots. Ensure that your plant gets sufficient water if you are planting it in a greenhouse. If you are planting them on a garden plot then they will not need as much water. Make sure that there is sufficient drainage so that the roots do not sit in waterlogged soil.

Mulching and Compost

As mentioned above, mulching protects plant roots from huge fluctuation of soil temperatures and helps insulate plants against extreme cold. It also helps stop soil erosion. Mulching should be done until after the first frost has passed as that is when the ground starts to freeze. Add about 4 to 6 inches of materials like dried leaves, pine needles, shredded bark, or pine boughs. This will provide a layer of protection for softer plants. You do not need to much as much if you have perennials.

Take this time also so add compost to your soil. Compost help with drainage of the soil, as well as replenish the nutrients required by your plants. Turn the soil after adding in compost and monitor the level of nutrients that you have added.

Perennials

Winter is also a good time to cut back on your perennials. This will help keep the perennials healthy in addition to propagating your plants, encouraging more coverage in the coming season. Cut them about 6 to 8 inches above the ground. Note that some perennials do look attractive during the winter. To see if you like the look, allow them to grow and gauge your desire for the next season.

Quick Tip

A tip for bird lovers – the seed heads of some perennials like the Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan), Echinacea, Achillea, and Buddleia are attractive and are food sources that attract birds during the winter. You may want to leave them for this purposem of attractive birds to your garden.

Cutting back perennials help keep the garden tidy and lessons work in the spring. Some perennials that require cut back are Alchemilla, Coreopsis, Delphinium, Hosta, and Veronica.

Types of Winter Flowers

The types of flowers that you can plant depends on not just your taste and desires, but mainly whether the flowers can withstand the cold. Refer to the USDA gardening zone which will help you decide what you can and can’t grow during fall and winter. These zones outline the type of plants that can survive the lowest temperatures of a given zone.

Different flowering plants that you can consider planting in your garden:

Image credit: mingfoto34/Flick

Witch hazels (Hamamelis spp.)

  • zones 3 or 4 right up to 7
  • late-autumn to winter
  • are also common as summer flowering plant

Image credit: David Short/Flickr



Camellia

  • zones 6 or 7
  • Thrive in large containers or partly shaded gardens.
  • Requires acidic soil and should be pruned after flowering to allow large winter flowers to bloom properly
  • available in a wide variety of flower colors.

Image credit: Craig Jewell/Flickr



Senna (Cassia spp.)

  • prefers full sun and low to regular water levels
  • winter varieties are usually yellow; traditionally used to die cloth and linens in addition to other herbal benefits.
  • They attract a large number of butterflies.
  • self-seed easily

Image credit: webmink /Flickr



Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)

  • Hardy to zone 5
  • deciduous shrubs that bloom on bare branches in February
  • they bloom on the previous year’s growth so extra care must be taken when pruning.
  • An excellent choice for a bird-friendly garden as they attract birds over winter.
  • Are also used as deciduous hedges as the shrubs produce fruits.

Image credit: yamaken /Flickr


Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox)

  • Hardy to zero degrees.
  • Prefers full to part sun and are semi-drought tolerant.
  • blooms during late winter on bare branches
  • require good drainage and light pruning.

Image credit: Ivo M. Vermeulen /Flickr

 

Winterhazel (Corylopsis spicata)

  • require full to part sun
  • bloom bell shaped flowers in late winter or very early spring.

Image credit: Odla.nu


Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica)

  • blooms in the winter with little strands of buds
  • comes in bright red, white or pink blossoms


Image credit: Deb Steinberg /Flickr


Helleborus spp.

  • bloom in mid to late winter
  • they have dark green foliage which persists throughout the winter.
  • Comes in a variety of colours

Image credit: Niall McAuley /Flickr

 

Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa lucillae)

  • flowers bloom on previous year’s bulbs so you should not mow the lawn six weeks after blooming to allow the foliage to thrive

Image credit: Buspass /Flickr

 

Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)

  • blooms in late autumn through winter.
  • can be trained up a wall or trellis

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