Tips on Choosing Seasonal Winter Flowering Plants
Winter is normally a quiet time for gardeners, with the challenges of ground frost and biting winds that make it tricky to cultivate flowers, with most plant species dormant and inactive over the colder months.
However, if you’d like a seasonally festive garden with bright, cheerful blooms, some fantastic options come into their own when the rest of the garden feels a little drab.
AK Kin has listed some of the top winter flowering plants that thrive in the typical British climate and advice about keeping your garden in excellent condition – whatever the weather.
How to Add Winter Colour To Your Garden
One of the first things to remember is that you can combine different planting styles and species to achieve a beautiful effect. You can find colour in hedgerows, grasses, berry-producing trees and potted plants, so don’t despair if your dahlias and fuchsias have settled down for the year.
There are winter flowering plants for every corner of your garden, from bedding plants and climbers, to those flowers beneficial to winter bumblebees and other pollinators.
The Best Winter Flowering Plants for UK Gardens
Honeysuckle has to be one of our favourite winter flowers, with creamy white petals and bare branches, occasionally dotted with red berries, and an incredible scent. Honeysuckle blooms between December and February.
The Christmas rose is one of the earliest flowering hellebores, and although they normally flower in January, you can see junior petals just unfurling around Christmas. Aptly named, the Christmas rose has big, white flowers and deep green leaves and can grow in borders even with partial shade.
If you’re keen on brighter pops of colour, try some of these winter flowering plants:
- Cyclamens: hardy yet delicate flowers with pink, red or white blooms that pop up around the base of trees or shrubs in late winter and early spring.
- Winter Heather: a perfect winter flowering plant, bedded directly into the ground, and ideal for wild gardens and adding colour to long grass. Heather produces tiny rich purple and white blooms and is a weed inhibitor that is great for bees.
- Quince: vibrant red blooms and thorny branches make quince a good shrub for winter planting – it blooms throughout winter and into the spring.
Pansies are another classic option of the winter flowering plants. They can fill flowerpots, window boxes and hanging baskets with bold purples, pinks, yellows and white as a versatile, tough plant that brings energy to darker winter days.
Snowdrops are native British flowers and open early in the New Year, happiest around trees and shrubs.
Gardeners looking for evergreen blooms might consider Clematis, specifically the winter-flowering Cirrhosa. The white flowers are freckled with a spattering of pink and flower all year round.
Tips for Cold Weather Gardening
Although we tend to assume there isn’t much to do in the garden over the winter, several essential maintenance tasks are important to ensure your plants return to their full brightness and health when spring finally arrives!
First, you’ll need a few pieces of kit or to have a look in the shed to ensure you have everything to hand:
- Insulated gardening gloves – you need protection from thorns and stones but should pick gloves with a liner to avoid painful thawing fingers.
- Garden broom – if you get snow or ice, this needs clearing away, particularly from more delicate shrubs and plants. De-icer and salt can harm plants, so a tough broom is a far better option.
- Secateurs or pruning shears – lots of garden plants and bushes need cutting back over the winter, and it is best to remove any limbs that look the worse for wear after a cold spell.
- Peat pots – preparing your bulbs in peat pots will mean they are ready to plant in January when the ground thaws. You can store pots outside, using a leaf blanket as protection or plant in smaller round pots in the shed or greenhouse.
One of the best jobs to get stuck into in the winter is preparing your flowerbeds, which facilitates ideal conditions for plants to regrow around late March.
Remove all of the weeds, leaves and dead debris, and cover the beds overnight just in case.
It’s wise to loosen the mulch around plants and give lawns and grasses a good trim back to the ground level, which helps new blades cut straight through without a layer of dried or dead grass that can hinder growth.
You can also re-seed any patches of lawn that are bare or thin.
How to Keep Your Garden Healthy in the Winter
Our gardens are a hive of activity even when many plants are dormant. It’s often tempting to brush away cobwebs that pop up between branches, bird feeders and sheds – but leave these in situ if possible.
Spiders lay nests around December and January, ready to hatch in May. Baby spiders are vulnerable to being eaten, but the more, the merrier, as they consume huge numbers of insects and bugs that cause damage to plants and vegetables.
Whiteflies like to take up residence in greenhouses in the winter, so use insecticide soap to keep your greenhouse clean, and be sure to shake off the pests outside if any plants are particularly affected.
You should protect the soil as much as possible – a natural mulch cover is often the easiest option if you have bare soil in flowerbeds, or you can add a fleece layer or frost protection sheet.
Weeding is, unfortunately, a year-round job, so you can use the winter to pull out recurring weeds or dig out larger perennial weeds. However, it’s best to stay off damp soil to avoid compacting it down and making it hard for young roots to push through.
Finally, be sure to wrap up warm! Gardening can be more difficult in the winter, and far more so if you have an exposed or steep garden – but having good quality waterproof and thermal layers will ensure you can keep up with your plants and shrubs, even on the coldest days.