From the Desk of Ed Hume: Winter-Flowering Plants

January 4, 2012 at 4:46 PM Leave a comment

There’s no need for your garden look a bit drab and colorless at this time of year! We’re fortunate here in the Pacific Northwest, because there are some beautiful winter flowering plants that are not only beautiful during the winter, but provide year-round interest in the garden.


There are at least a dozen or more outstanding varieties of winter flowering heather that are a ‘must have’ in the winter garden. Plus, there are several others that have very attractive variegated foliages. The benefit of some varieties, like Mediterranean white or Mediterranean hybrid, is that they begin flowering in October or November and continue to provide flower color until late April. Then there are varieties like Springwood white or Springwood pink that flower from January to April. Many other winter flowering varieties have red, rose, or pink flowers.

Nurseries and garden centers feature different varieties, so I recommend a visit to your favorite garden outlet so you can select the ones that especially appeal to you. A single plant is nice, but they will provide a beautiful show when you plant them in-groups of 3 or more.

LAURESTINUS (Viburnum tinus):

This one is also a ‘must have’ in our garden. This evergreen shrub has a few clusters of pinkish-white flowers starting in October or earliest November and it continues to flower until mid-April when it comes into full bloom. My wife (Myrna) uses the cut branches in winter floral arrangements.

There are several varieties from ‘Spring Bouquet’ which only grows 4 to 6 feet tall, to the common variety which may grow up 10 to 12 feet high.

They grow best in full sun. Go light on watering late in the season or the plants are apt to suffer from a bit of freeze damage. In my opinion this plant has only one drawback and that is: be certain to gather any interior leaves that fall to the ground in the autumn or winter, as they tend to smell like dirty-dishrags.

The deciduous variety Viburnum bodnantense “Pink Dawn” has deep pink flowers that are very fragrant. It grows 6 to 8 feet tall and flowers in early to late winter.

WITCH HAZEL (Hamamelis mollis):

This is another noticeably fragrant, early to mid-winter flowering plant. Flowers of H.mollis are spidery in appearance, richly fragrant, bright yellow and quite unique. It grows up to 15 feet high, so give it plenty of space in the garden.

There are about a dozen newer varieties, some in shades of red, orange and various shades of yellow. Height and fragrance varies by variety.

Of course, these are only a few of the shrubs that flower during the winter. Plant them up-front, where you can enjoy their beauty and/or fragrance during the winter months.

Visit for countless other ideas of plants you can use in your garden year-round. And, if you’re planning you 2012 vegetable garden you’ll find some great tips on planning this year’s garden.


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Ed’s Podcasts: What To Do With Christmas Trees Clip of the Week: Repotting Houseplants

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