Brighten the gray, gloomy days of December with colorful blooms by growing plants that flower even when snow is on the ground. Welcome Christmas guests with an arbor covered with the tiny bell-shaped flowers of the 'Snowbells'® clematis vine. Add a mix of color with various heather and Lenten rose plants or grow a red blooming Camellia for a bright spot in the winter landscape.
Plants 0-3 Feet Tall
The 'Snowbells'® clematis is a good choice. Bell-shaped, green-tinted white blooms dangle from the vine beginning in December and lasting into March.
The low-growing Dwarf Ozark Witch Hazel 'Quasimodo' (Hamamelis vernalis) is under 3 feet tall and has a beautiful compact habit for use near walkways. It blooms orange throughout the winter.
Heath (Erica carnea) such as 'December Red' bloom from December well into February. This one in particular has buds that open pink and grow darker as the days pass. December Red only reaches 1 1/2 feet tall but spreads similar to a ground cover. It's hardy to Zone 4 (-30 degrees) with protection and warmer.
Heather 'Saint Nick' (Calluna vulgaris) has deep mauve flowers from December through January. The plant stays small at only 10 inches tall by 18 inches wide.
Iris (Iris unguicularis) blooms in colors ranging from dark purple, violet to white beginning in October and stretching well into March.
Kaffir lily (Schizostylis coccinea) provides color in bright red or dark pink in the December garden where the climate is a bit milder. The lily grows to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
Lenten or Christmas Rose (Helleborus x hybridus) or (H. orientalis) Blooms appear in late December and last into late winter. Between 15-18 inches tall, nearly unlimited color choices make this the perfect flower for December color.
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) are the perfect naturalizing flower for large and small wooded or neglected areas. G. nivalis blooms are small, bell-shaped and white.
Plants 4-10 Feet Tall
Contorted Filbert (Corylus avellana) has contorted branches that add interest to any garden. Bright yellow-green blooms (catkins) hang from the tree in bunches from early to late winter. Consider a small tree or large bush, the C. avellana may reach 10 feet tall however, it is more likely to stay between 6-8 feet tall.
Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) brings color to the winter garden from November to March with its sunshine-yellow blooms borne on kelly-green stems. The plant is a rambler that will pile into a large shrub, 10 feet tall and wide, when allowed to grow unchecked.
Plants 10+ Feet Tall
Camellia plants are one of the most famous of all winter blooming plants. There are blooms to please every gardener from the simplest single form to the anemone, double, peony form, rose form and semi-double.
Camellia plants are loaded with blooms of red, pink, white and those with striped petals during the winter and early spring. C. sasanqua has a long flowering period and does well in cold climates. C. japonica, 'Debutante' has medium pink blooms from early to mid winter.
- "Winter-Flowering Shrubs;" Michael W. Buffin; Timber Press, Incorporated; 2005
- "The New York Botanical Garden Illustrated Encyclopedia of Horticulture;" Vol. 10; Thomas H. Everett; Garland Publishing; 1982
- "Blooming Calendar of Selected Plants in Cold Canyon;" University of California Natural Reserve System Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve
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