10 Colourful Winter Plant Ideas to Brighten Your Garden

January 23, 2021

Using winter plants to preserve some colour within your landscape can be tricky. Shrubs and trees lose their autumn leaves, flowers wither, perennials recede back into the ground for three months of dormancy, and evergreens stay… well, green.

So… if you’re interested in a garden that has a little more vigour this coldseason, than you’re likely in need of some colourful winter plant ideas.



Green and Brown Everywhere: Plan for a Change with Colour

Don’t get me wrong: green and brown are both wonderful. Few other colours are so closely associated with nature, growth, vitality, and organic life. Green and brown have staked out an inimitable corner of the colour spectrum that will forever be associated with gardens, forests, and landscapes. One might even say that green and brown are the perfect theme colours for Vancouver – a city so closely associated with the quintessential “outdoor lifestyle.”

However, after a vibrant Vancouver autumn full of opulent oranges, deep crimson reds, and bright, dewy yellows framed against the North Shore mountains, winter can seem really, really drab. But don’t lose hope! We’ve compiled a list of our top ten favourite trees and plants that can still add colour to your landscape even after the last autumn leaf falls.


Our Top 10 Plants for Winter Colour

1. Coral Bark Japanese Maple

Acer palmataum ‘Sango Kaku’, Deciduous tree

Adorned with bright magenta-red bark, this small-to-medium sized maple is an ideal choice for all seasons. Even once it has lost its leaves, its lively bark stands out in any winter landscape.


2. Red Osier Dogwood

Cornus sericea, Deciduous shrub

This shrub adds a great Christmas feel to any garden! With deep red bark that grows in multi-stemmed bouquets of woody colour, this shrub is a great addition to any landscape.


3. Witch Hazel

Hamamelis mollis, Deciduous shrub

Though witch hazels flower in summer, their bright yellow foliage lasts year-round. Its unique shape and growing patterns make it a standout year-round shrub for textural interest.


4. Winter Heather

Erica carnea, Evergreen Shrub

A classic and timeless winter plant – for good reason! ‘December Red’ or ‘Springwood Pink’ are great winter options.


5. American Wintergreen

Gaultheria procumbens, Evergreen shrub

It’s right there in the name: wintergreen. These evergreen shrubs are another great Christmas-y plant, featuring bright red berries and deep green leaves – even in the cold season.


6. Winter Daphne

Daphne odora, Evergreen shrub

This very-fragrant evergreen shrub flowers in the late winter, making it an excellent addition to your winterscape.


7. Sweet Flag

Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’, Herbaceous perennial

This grass adds year-round texture and colour, with bright yellow/green leaves that can act as an excellent ground cover. They also perform well in boggy, wet soils, making them ideal for wetter conditions.


8. Lenten Rose/Christmas Rose

Hellebore, Perennial

Lenten rose “blooms” – sepals that protect the forthcoming flowers – appear in February, adding early interest to these weather-tolerant perennials.


9. Snowdrop

Galanthus nivalis, Bulb

The eye-catching white flowers of this plant bloom in February. They’re best planted near the base of trees, so that as the weather warms, the trees leaf out and plunge them back into their preferred shadiness.



10. Pansy

Viola tricolor var. hortensis, Annual flower

This hardy little flower is tougher than it looks! A perfect choice for little pops of winter interest, pansies come in a broad range of varieties and colours.


Any more?

What’s your favourite winter plant? There seems to be no end to plants that can do well in winter, and we’d love to hear your thoughts. If you or your strata would like our help with winter annual displays or for sprucing up your winter garden, please feel free to get in touch now!


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