Winter blooming flowers not only keep gardens looking their best, they provide a sense of relief for gloom-addled gardeners. Finding winter-flowering plants can prove difficult, particularly in northern climates where even the hardiest varieties can take a beating. Many flowers require cold soil and constant moisture in order to bloom, bringing a welcome relief from winter's palette of gray and brown.
Native to the mountains of Europe and the eastern Mediterranean, Cyclamen is a genus of flowering plants that includes several hardy, winter-flowering varieties. Ivy-leafed cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium) is the most cold-tolerant species, able to withstand temperatures to minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit, if protected by a layer of snow. Depending on soil composition and climate, ivy-leafed cyclamen can grow to 6 to 12 inches in height with slightly mottled or variegated basal foliage. From early fall until midwinter, individual pink and magenta flowers emerge at the tip of each reddish-brown stalk. The flowers have a nodding habit with the five main petals swept dramatically back.
Winter daphne (Daphne odora) is an evergreen winter-flowering shrub native to China and Japan. It is slow growing, eventually achieving a mature height of 4 feet with a 4-foot spread. The rounded form and dense foliage are understated and attractive year-round, although the shrub's real charm appears in late winter when it blooms. From late December until February, winter daphne bears elongated clusters of fragrant, pale-pink flowers. The blooming season is short-lived even under the best circumstances, but it keeps a garden active during the dormant season.
Blooming from early January until late February, wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) bears nodding heads of yellow, bell-shaped flowers with a slightly spicy scent. Growing to 12 feet in height with a 10-foot spread, wintersweet provides a dramatic mid-winter display of color if properly fertilized. It is a deciduous shrub with large glossy leaves that turn yellow in the fall. Well-established plants are hardy to well below freezing temperatures, although younger plants should be mulched with straw to protect the roots.
Found in cool, mountainous areas from southern Europe to Russia, snowflake (Leucojum vernum) is well suited to winter gardens. It is a bulb-borne perennial that emerges in late winter, sending up long, strap-like leaves and nodding, bell-shaped flowers. The individual blooms are white with a green or yellow spot at the tip of each petal. Slightly fragrant, snowflake is mildly poisonous if ingested, so proper hand sanitation is recommended after handling it. Growing to 14 inches in height, snowflake is an understated flower that should be used near the front of beds or planted in mass to achieve a dramatic presence.
- "Royal Horticultural Society Gardening Through The Year"; Ian Spence; 2009
- "Royal Horticultural Society: What Plant When"; Dorling Kindersley; 2007
- "365 Days of Garden Color: Keeping Your Garden in Bloom"; Sunset Book Editors; 2010
- Photo Credit Nimes 8 janvier 2009, aprÃ©s tombÃ©e de neige image by jergA from Fotolia.com
List of Winter Annual Flowers
Planted in early winter or late fall, winter annuals (also called hardy annuals) germinate in early winter when the ground cools. They...