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Winter flowering plants

In our temperate gardens, where winters are not particularly harsh, there are plenty of plants that flower through the coldest months of the year. Many of these plants thrive under the bare branches of deciduous trees which give them shade in summer but let the winter sunlight shine through.

Plants that brighten temperate winter gardens include the shrubs and perennials below. For ideas in your area, check out your local hardware or garden centre for plant suggestions.

Shrubs:

  • Daphne This attractive, compact shrub with scented flowers of pink or white, will leave a lasting impression when people wander past.
  • Osmanthus Best known for its aromatic cream tubular flowers which appear from autumn to winter, osmanthus grow to around 3 metres in height and width, and has striking dark green foliage.
  • Camellias These evergreen shrubs are grown for their beautiful flowers, which are pink, red or white and may be single or double. Camellias are an excellent choice for evergreen hedges or screens, topiary specimens or as feature plants for winter flowers. Check out camellias.
  • Lavenders Much-loved shrubs for temperate gardens, lavender are grown for their fragrant usually lavender flowers, which appear for many months and for their soft, narrow grey-green leaves. These evergreen shrubs can be grown as a stand-alone shrub, a low hedge to around 1m high, or as a potted plant. Check out lavender.
  • Banksia Slow to establish, but long lived, banksia are well worth the investment of time. The upright, cone-like blooms occur across all seasons depending on the climate and variety grown. Yellow, orange, scarlet and pink blooms dominate, attracting a variety of wildlife. Check out banksia
  • Grevilleas Popular garden plants, grevilleas boast showy blooms, long flowering and ability to attract nectar-feeding birds and other wildlife. Check out grevillea.

Perennials

  • Hellebores Commonly known as winter roses, these plants form a blaze of winter colour in cool and temperate gardens. Well-suited to planting underneath a tree canopy, they have deep green foliage, with colourful flowers ranging from creamy white to pink and deep magentas.
  • Bergenia This a clumping shade-loving plant with dark green leaves that tint bronze in autumn. It has bell-shaped pink and red flowers which rise above the foliage. It is an ideal ground cover as a border or in mass plantings.
  • Clivias Brighten up a garden in winter, with strappy-dark green leaves and orange trumpet flowers propped above them. Clivias are ideal planted on mass underneath a tree.

Growing conditions

Aspect Plants grown for winter flower colour generally need a sheltered but sunny location from autumn to early spring, but most grow quite well with summer shade, which reduces burning to foliage. The bare canopy of deciduous trees can also offer frost protection. Daphne does well in an east-facing location with shelter from hot winds.

Soil Winter-flowering shrubs and perennials grow in a wide range of soils but do best in soil enriched with organic matter or compost and/or Seasol Super Compost before planting. Most also need good drainage and adequate watering especially during summer if conditions are hot and dry. Where drainage is unsuitable, grow plants in containers.

Climate There are winter flowering plants to suit all climate zones. In the tropics, winter is in the middle of the dry season.

Tips on summer preforming plants

General care

Watering Adequate and regular watering are important throughout the year. Plants growing in containers also need regular watering.

Feeding and mulching Keep plants lush and leafy with a granular fertiliser applied throughout the seasons such as Seasol plus Nutrient All Purpose including Natives or Seasol plus Nutrient Roses & Flowers. Supplement this feeding with a liquid fertiliser such as PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives or PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Roses & Flowers every 2 to 4 weeks. Plants in containers can be liquid fed every 2 to 4 weeks while they are growing and flowering with PowerFeed PRO SERIES All Purpose including Natives or PowerFeed PRO SERIES Roses & Flowers. Regular applications of Seasol also assist drought hardiness and disease resistance.

Spread mulch such as composted leaf or bark mulch to reduce weed competition.

Pruning Winter-flowering plants may need to be lightly pruned after flowering. Hellebores often benefit from having old foliage cut back in early autumn before the flower buds appear.

Watch for Pest activity is generally low through winter but watch for slugs and snails, especially after rain (control with a low toxic iron-based snail bait). Clivias may be attacked by lily caterpillar, which damages leaves and stems. Hunt for caterpillars and remove them as soon as damage is noted. Spray with a natural treatment such as EarthCare Natural Pyrethrum insect spray.