DALY: Plant that flower in the winter to beautify the landscape

Tim Daly

During the winter months, we miss the beautiful flowers of the spring and summer. However, several flowering plants add color to the landscape even in the dead of winter. The most obvious ones are the pansies, snapdragons, and ornamental kale, which are annuals that produce a colorful show when planted around our homes and businesses. Other winter flowering plants can beautify the landscape some of them are not well known.

Winter honeysuckle is a deciduous shrub with creamy-white flowers that have a lemon scented fragrance. It can grow to six feet tall, makes a good hedge, and can easily be planted in masses. After flowering, red berries form during the spring and early summer months. Winter honeysuckle’s berries are attractive to wildlife. Any pruning should be done after flowering. It prefers locations in full sun to partial shade well-drained soil. This species of honeysuckle should not be confused with the highly invasive Japanese honeysuckle vine which can easily take over the landscape if not controlled. Daphnes are small, evergreen shrubs with glossy leaves. They have very fragrant, attractive rose-purple colored flowers that bloom in February. Their fragrance fills the garden with a perfume-like scent. However, daphnes can be a challenge to grow. They require excellent drainage and do not tolerate waterlogged soils. Add plenty of organic matter to the soil before planting. They prefer partial shade. Daphnes hate to have their roots disturbed and do not tolerate transplanting well.

Wintersweet is an attractive, multi-stemmed, shrub with a fountain-like appearance. It has yellow to white, spice-scented flowers that open slowly over time during the winter months. The plant is best used in a shrub border, along walks, or near building entrances. Wintersweet requires good drainage and can be severely pruned to control its size.

Witchhazel consists of several species, but in general, most have yellow to red, fragrant flowers that bloom from January to March. This deciduous shrub has an upright growth, is loosely branched, and should be pruned after flowering to keep its form. Its brilliant yellow to orange fall foliage brightens the landscape and is quite attractive when growing next to a wooded area.

The plant gets its name because of its forked twigs which were sometimes used as water witching divining rods. Some varieties of witchhazel are native to the eastern United States and grow well in many types of garden environments. The lotion witchhazel is derived from chemicals inside the stems.

Lenten rose is an attractive herbaceous, winter-blooming perennial. The flowers come in a variety of colors and eventually turn green before falling off in early spring. One of the plant’s most attractive features is its dark green leathery foliage. It prefers shady locations and requires only minimal care once established. Lenten roses should be planted in moist, well-drained soil full of organic matter, and needs fertilizer every spring. Once they become established, they are long lasting perennials and reseed easily producing abundant seedlings. The plant is a slow grower, does not transplant well, and will a long time to recover when moved.

Even in the middle of the winter months, these flowering plants can brighten your yard. Any snowfall that occurs will enhance their beauty.

On Jan. 10 UGA Extension Gwinnett will have a class on ornamental plants for winter interests. It will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in the second-floor conference room of the Gwinnett County Government Annex Building, 750 South Perry St. in Lawrenceville. To register, please contact the Extension office.

Also, UGA Extension Gwinnett 2019 annual plant sale is underway. To obtain an order form, one can be downloaded from the Extension website at www.ugaextension.org/gwinnett, or you can have one mailed to you by contacting the Extension office.

Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with UGA Extension Gwinnett. He can be contacted at 678-377-4011or tdaly@uga.edu.