Gardening in Gwinnett: Winter flowering plants can liven up the landscape

As the cold, winter weather settles in for the next few months, we begin to miss the beautiful flowers from the spring and summer.

However, even in the dead of winter, there are flowering plants that can liven up the landscape. The most obvious flowering plants are pansies, snapdragons and ornamental kale - annuals that produce an amazing colorful show around our homes and businesses.

But several other winter flowering plants can add beauty to our yards.

Winter honeysuckle is a 6- to 10-foot shrub with flowers that are not showy but are quite fragrant. It makes a good hedge or screen, and can easily be planted in masses.

Camellias are a favorite in Georgia gardens, and they can put on a real show. Sasanqua camellias bloom in the fall, and have smaller blooms. Japonica camellias have larger flowers and bloom later.

They come in all colors and sizes. Camellia plants have the potential to reach 10 feet high. They prefer moist, acidic, well-drained soil, and can tolerate some shade. Plant them where their flowers can be appreciated and enjoyed.

Daphnes have very fragrant, attractive flowers in February. Their fragrance can fill the garden like perfume. However, daphnes can be a challenge to grow. They are very sensitive to water and drainage. Plant them in an area full of organic matter that is well-drained.

Wintersweet, also called Chimonanthus, is an attractive, winter-flowering shrub that is often overlooked. The plant is a multi-stemmed, loose shrub with a fountain-like appearance. It has fragrant yellow or white flowers that open slowly over time. It is easily transplanted, but needs well-drained soil.

Witch Hazel has fragrant yellow-red flowers. The plant has an upright growth and is loosely branched, so it needs periodic pruning to keep its form. It also has brilliant fall yellow to orange foliage.

Lenten rose, or hellebore, is an attractive herbaceous perennial that blooms starting in January and February. It prefers shady locations, and needs minimal care once established. The flowers come in a variety of colors, and eventually turn green before falling off in early spring.

The plant has dark green and leathery foliage, which is one of its most attractive features. Lenten roses should be planted in moist, well-drained soil full of organic matter, and they need fertilizer every spring. The plant is a slow grower. It does not do well being transplanted and will recover slowly when moved.

Yes, even in the middle of winter, flowering plants can brighten your yard. Any snowfall we have will just enhance the beauty of these flowers.

Timothy Daly is an agricultural and natural resource agent with the Gwinnett County Extension Service. He can be reached at 678-377-4010 or timothy.daly@gwinnettcounty.com.