Outdoor winter plants

Outdoor winter plants

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Arboreal species from outside

Among the most suitable arboreal botanical species to cheer up your winter garden we can include among others:
theholly, a popular evergreen tree that can reach the height of 8 meters and that grows already in the spontaneous state in the Italian flora. The plant is characterized by its leaves with spiny and pungent margins, but above all for its beautiful red berries which in the varieties "Angustifolia" "Argenteo-marginata", "Bacciflava" and "Pyramidalis", have the particularity of developing from female plants only if there is a male plant nearby;
the arbutus, another evergreen up to 6 meters high, characteristic of the Mediterranean maquis, which lives well even in the city gardens, in a sheltered position. Its dark, shiny and toothed leaves have an oblong-lanceolate shape while the bell-shaped and perfumed flowers, carried in hanging terminal panicles, are white or pink and mature at the same time as the fruits, similar to small strawberries;
thewinter heather, which in its variety "Lusitanica", native to the Atlantic coast of Portugal, Spain and France, resists frost well and produces in the months of January-February lightly perfumed white-pinkish flowers carried by pyramidal panicles that grow on large branches and feathery;
thehamamelide, in particular the species "Intermedia", a deciduous plant with beautiful autumnal decorative leaves which in winter is covered with large and splendid red-copper or yellow flowers depending on the variety.

Among the shrubby outdoor plants, in the winter garden, species such as;the viburnum, in particular the species "fragrans", with a deciduous character, which can reach considerable heights and has an erect habit and oval and toothed leaves that are sharp at the apex of dark green color with orange shades. but above all beautiful white flowers that, appearing in the months of November and December, appear in very fragrant bunches;there white forsythia, a little known species, originating from Korea and belonging to the Oleacee family, characteristic for its star-shaped and intensely scented white flowers that sprout on the plant in January and can also be used as cut flowers;there bergenia, belonging to the Saxifragacee family and native to Siberia, whose most precocious and widespread species is the "Crassifolia" which blooms from January and in some cases, from November. The flowers of the bergenia crassifolia, of bell-shaped and pale pink color are gathered in panicles and sprout from scapes that arise at the axil of the leaf and that must be removed at the end of flowering;there skimmia in the "Japonica" species, also called green pepper, an evergreen shrub of small or medium size, originating in Japan. This species produces bright dark green, oval or lanceolate leaves with a slightly leathery appearance, and cream-white flowers whose reddish buds appear on the plant already in autumn;the rhododendron, whose name derives from the Greek and means tree of roses, an undemanding evergreen shrub with sturdy branches, dark green leathery leaves and roses-like flowers with a funnel-shaped corolla.Herbaceous species

Whether they look like a bush or snack often as single specimens from a blanket of snow, various herbaceous plants in winter bloom can excellently vegetate even on the balcony of the house.
Among the species that are certainly the best known are:
thehellebore, in its variety "Foetidus", a herbaceous plant 50 to 100 cm high, which from January to April carries flowering stems that produce small flowers grouped together and lasting five petals of a particular acid green color with a red border. This plant also has a root system formed by large black roots, which allows it to ensure its water needs even in times of drought;
there camellia in the species "Sasanqua", a native of Japan, a winter camellia that blooms from October to March and produces semi-double corolla flowers of a deep pink or white color and very fragrant;
there horned violet, small plant very adaptable and resistant to cold, with compact foliage and small fragrant flowers with a characteristic color that appear from autumn until late spring;
the groundsel, a herbaceous species with persistent foliage that can turn into a small shrub, of a characteristic gray color that stands out even more in the poor winter brightness in contrast to other leaves or blooms.

Outdoor plants for outdoor use

We have seen flowering plants so far this season and their main characteristics. However, if we wanted to make a bunch of flowers, what would be the best winter flowers?
In the winter period, the flowers that should not be missing from the florist, at least on paper, are the amaryllis, the tulip, the azalea, the cyclamen and the poinsettia, better known as Christmas star.
Obviously even florists try to give a touch of seasonality and rusticity to their creations and therefore use more rustic and less showy species that nevertheless bloom in winter. For example of the species that can be used for winter creations are the skimmias, the hellebore, the winter calicanto, the witch hazel and other very beautiful species.

The garden in winter

In the common imagination during the coldest months of the year the garden is at rest; its colors can only be tenuous and the attractions really scarce.
However, it is a prejudice which, at least partially, can be denied. The months from November to February can actually be lit by flowers, leaves, berries and barks of bright colors, ready to blend with the rarefied atmosphere and make it extremely more welcoming and interesting.
In order to make the most of these opportunities, in the design phase, it is good to think about the different areas in the succession of seasons and insert in each one or more elements that can make them always attractive.
We can think of playing with it all on the contrast of colors. Very simple is, for example, to insert many touches of red (present in persistent foliage, in barks, in berries) which will be emphasized by the delicate whiteness of the snow.
Forms also have their importance. The inflorescences (such as those of the hydrangeas or the ears of grasses) are splendid when they are "frozen" inside the morning frost.
It should also be noted that there are blooms that can be prolonged until November and some that begin to appear already from mid-January to early February. The period in which the corollas are completely absent is therefore very short.
Here is a small anthology of plants to consider, divided according to their attractiveness.

Winter herbaceous plants

The herbaceous plants tend to be the least resistant to cold. Some though, especially when temperatures are above zero for most of the day, they can grow and even flourish.
Helleborus niger also called "Christmas rose"; It is endowed with large and beautiful persistent dark green leaves. In the months of January-February (first, if forced) it produces large white corollas that, over time and with frost, take on the edges interesting pinkish shades. They are very resistant plants, which grow well and autonomously above all in the middle of the earth, with a partial shade exposure. The hybrids, obtained by crossing with the orientalis, bloom a little later (already around March, if well exposed), but offer a richer range of colors.
Heather It is one of the most appreciated flowers of this period. In particular, lusitanica is less demanding than others, adapting itself also to calcareous soils, and blooms between January and February, in the colors of white and rosé.
Other undisputed queens are the carnea and the Erigena and their many horticultural hybrids (called Erica x darleyensis), in the colors (pink, violet, white) and more varied heights. Extremely adaptable as far as the soil is concerned (better if ground with peat and with excellent drainage) they are really among the most rustic and reliable. A little later, but still interesting, is the Sicula, with pinkish flowers.
Bergenia cordifolia extremely reliable upholsterer even for the most rigid areas, it quickly colonizes large areas thanks to its rhizomes. Its foliage is evergreen, even in shades of red or cheerful apple green. The inflorescences, often produced already in March, are declined in shades of pink, red and white, sometimes in beautiful contrast with the leaves.
Senecio annual or perennial, it is lovely to insert for its leaves covered with a thin silvery fluff. Alternatively, to have a similar effect, use evergreen perennials such as Santolina or helichrysum.
Heuchera beautiful evergreen ground cover. Modern selections have created cultivars with leaves of all colors, from acid green to bright pink to red, to violet. Usually in the middle of winter it ceases to grow, but resumes as soon as the frosts end, especially if it is well exposed.
Ophiopogon nigrescens beautiful perennial with evergreen black-violet foliage. Very interesting to create contrasts with red and silvery.


Some of the earliest flowers are obtained by placing them in the bulbous garden. They can be used in flower beds or even freely in the lawn, creating groups. In this way the effect will be more natural, reproducing the appearance of mountain meadows at the time of thawing.
Cyclamen very interesting hybrid pots. It is however possible to insert them even in the garden. Some bloom until November, like the Neapolitanum, others start around March, like the repandum or the coum
Snowdrop one of the most representative flowers of winter. They can appear from under the snow already from the beginning of February.
Leucojum vernum very similar to snowdrops, but cheaper. It is therefore possible to use them to colonize large areas, making them naturalize.
Iris reticulated despite the small size are noted for their colors ranging from blue to yellow, between February and March
Crocus bright colors from yellow to purple to white, between February and March. Among the most popular.
Rooster pie erathis hyemalis a rustic ground cover tuberose that produces, in March, beautiful yellow flowers similar to buttercups.


They are among the "stable" elements of the garden and must therefore be inserted as soon as possible so that they have time to grow and represent the supporting structure around which to plant herbaceous and annual.
Jasminum nudiflorum can be grown as a bush or small creeper. Already from February, on bare branches, it produces abundant yellow flowers, among the most appreciated in that period.
Hamamelis mollis and virginiana medium shrub, yellow to orange to red flowers, in bunches, very fragrant, between January and March. Sometimes they repeat in autumn.
Chaenomeles japonica beautiful and abundant flowering between February and May, in shades of pink, followed then, in summer by beautiful edible fruits. Very resistant plant, which can be grown as a medium bush or espalier, as a climber.
Forsythia among the first shrubs to bloom, one of the symbols of the coming spring. It can be used both as an isolated specimen and for the production of hedges, preferably informal. The flowering, in yellow (but now also available in white) takes place in fact on the branches produced in the previous vintage and it is therefore important to limit the prunings as much as possible or carry them out as soon as the corollas wilt.
Calicanto Chimonanthus praecox it flowers abundantly, on bare branches, from January to March, spreading a sweet perfume in the air. Tall and about 3 meters wide it is beautiful as an isolated shrub or espalier and, although a bit messy, it can be decorative even during the summer.
Camellia sasanqua originally from Japan, it has narrower leaves than the japonica and an earlier flowering, which, depending on the climate, lasts from October until March. Medium rustic (withstand up to -10 ° C) it has simple or semi-double corollas, the rarer ones are peony. The color ranges from white to pink to red. Some are also deliciously scented. Requires acid soil.

Outdoor winter plants: Berries and bark

Another decorative element in the winter is the berries and colored barks. The possibilities are really many and everyone has to choose according to their tastes and needs.
Skimmia japonica small shrub, which grows well even in pots. The female specimens produce in the autumn panels of round berries of a beautiful scarlet red, very durable. In the garden, it requires acid soil.
Berberis the many species produce beautiful red, purple or black fruits and some also have persistent foliage. The dimensions are very variable (from 30 cm up to 5 meters) and can therefore find many different uses, adapting to various contexts.
Cotoneaster the berries, mostly red or orange, remain throughout the winter. In some varieties even the leaves are persistent and take on beautiful colors. Also in this case there is only the embarrassment of the choice as regards dimensions and consequently uses.
Nandina domestic another fine shrub with bunches of red berries, suitable for borders, as an isolated specimen and for creating siepine. The leaves in autumn light up in orange.
Piracantha beautiful for the hedges, it is filled in winter with countless orange berries.
Hawthorn bushy shrub common in our countryside. It blooms in white in spring to cover itself with red berries in the winter months. Incredibly it attracts small birds that make the garden more lively.
Rose many produce beautiful berries. We report the wrinkled and most of the muscat hybrids (very beautiful Ballerina). The botanicals are very interesting: Moyesii Geranium, pimpinnefolia (eg. Single Cherry, with black berries), Roxburghii, virginiana (red berries and orange leaves in autumn), Complicata (gallica, big red berries), pendulina, Glauca. Particularly the sericea pteracantha, with enormous thorns, like wings, bright red, clearly visible in winter.
arbutus tree or small shrub bearing red and orange yellow fruits, edible.
Ilex symbol of Christmas. Tree or bush with persistent leaves, leathery and glossy. There are various species and cultivars with homogeneous leaves, with variegations or contrasting margins. Female individuals carry red berries on the branches produced the previous year.
Cornus there are many interesting varieties. We propose Alba for the beauty of its branches that light up with an intense red in the winter months, giving warmth and beautiful graphic style. Blood is similar. The florida, after the spring bloom in white, appears in winter loaded with red berries.
Acer all interesting in autumn, but some varieties have bright red branches during the colder months. Among these we mention the palmatum "sango-kaku", "eddisbury" "Orido Nishiki".
Birches, with the white color of their bark and the black holes match perfectly with the winter atmosphere.
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