When it comes to winter, I’m a bit of whiner. A born-and-bred Louisiana native with alligator blood, I don’t like the cold and I tend to get reclusive if I’m faced with it. I love gardening, but it just wouldn’t feel right in a coat and long underwear. Worst of all, as fall finally passes on and all the leaves have dropped, things just start to look a depressing, gray, dull, and…well, you get the picture. Naturally, one way to combat this drab outlook is to throw some color in the mix, and what better way to do it than with flowers? A burst of red here, a flash of purple there, all go a long way to brightening up another cold day locked inside. It might even make that steaming cup of tea taste just a tinge better, warmer even. So, let’s take a look at some flowers that bloom in winter, when you might just need it most. (Honestly, I’ll be somewhere in the tropics by then.)
Also known as chrysanthemums, these are a beloved fall flower that can also survive winter. Not only are they hardy enough to withstand cooler temperatures, but also they come in a wide variety of colors and shapes. The plants are renowned for being full of flowers that last for weeks. Because they are cheap, they are often treated as annuals and discarded, but they are perennials and will flower next year if left to grow.
Here we have another perennial favorite that comes out in fall but can brighten up the winter months in similar ways. They grow in clumps and actually require division—splitting the clump and planting more asters elsewhere—every couple of years. They work in pots or planted straight into the garden, like full sunlight, and aren’t too fussy about requiring top-flight soil.
Though pansies are annual, but they are a classic cold weather flower and absolutely beautiful. To plant them in fall will mean buying established plants started in summer, but, in mild climates, they will bloom through the winter.
Flowering quinces are a big shrub that works well for fencing, blooms bright red flowers right at the end of winter, when some color is most likely needed. The rest of the time, they are a bit spindly and twig-like, but they are super resilient plants. Look for the Japanese quince, chaenomeles, which has edible fruit.
Witch hazel can grow into a fifteen-foot tree, so it’s not to be planted lightly. That said, it puts off a nice fragrance in the summer and very spidery yellow flowers in the dead of winter. They are sun-lovers and like to be wet. It’s also a medicinal plant, good for insect bites and swelling.
Sugar snap peas grow up as annual vines, provide food (always a major plus) and also flowers. Once the flowers appear, it’s important to keep the plants watered, and they may require protection from frosts. But, they grow quickly, and the flowers—not just the peas—are edible! Try them in a super salad, in Snap Pea Salad With Almonds and Herbed Vinaigrette or sprinkled over some veggies – try something new and these little bits just might surprise you!
Frosty flowers are fantastic, and at a time when many plants and trees are little more than a collection of sticks, they are even easier to appreciate. What’s more is that our list also provides us with a few edible and medicinal plants, with a mix of trees and vines and shrubs that will help to create colors low and high and around each seasonal shift.
What flowers, if any, do you plant in the winter?
Image Source: Nana B Agyei/Flickr