This time of year can be pretty bleak in many parts of the country, with cold temperatures, bare trees, and overcast skies. If the midwinter color palette of grays and whites has you feeling the blues, it might be time to winterize your landscape plan.
A pop of green –or even an unexpected bloom of cheerful color –can inject some joy into your patio to brighten up even the bleakest winter day. Luckily, there are a number of plants that not only survive the colder temperatures of a mid-Atlantic winter, they actually thrive –some even blossom!
Have a look at our top picks for bringing a bit of life back to your winter patio and a boost to your mental health:
These hearty winter annuals are an easy way to bring color and texture to your patio pots, with giant ruffled leaves and colorful rosette-shaped heads in vibrant shades of purple, pink, green, and red. Most varieties can withstand temperatures well below freezing.
This low-maintenance plant is easy to grow in a container, and can even be trained up a trellis for a bit of vertical interest. The glossy green leaves remain vibrant throughout winter, and you can expect bright yellow blooms in early January. Winter jasmine lacks the prized scent of its summer counterpart, but it’s a worthy tradeoff for the cheerful winter flowers.
Sprigs of Holly might bring Christmas décor to mind, but by the time January rolls around any pop of color is a welcome addition to your patio. Hollies, Nandinas, and Cotoneaster plants all grow well in pots and provide bright green foliage and cheery red berries throughout the season.
Witch Hazel’s slow growth makes it a great choice for container gardening, where the shrub will thrive with a daily dose of winter sun – though it can be a bit sensitive to strong winds, so consider placing your pot in a protected area. You’ll be rewarded in January with a burst of lemon-yellow blooms that will give way in spring to bright green foliage.
Violas and Pansies
The colorful hues of these related groundcover plants might bring summer to mind, but Violas and Pansies are both remarkably hardy in cold weather – in fact, if you plant them in the early fall, they’ll bloom right through the winter and into spring. Both plants make a bigger impact planted in large clusters, so consider planting them in a bed rather than a single pot.
This low-maintenance evergreen is resistant to cold, disease, and pests, and puts on a dazzling display of pink and purple flowers in winter. It does equally well in a bed or in a container, where its moderate height (12-16”) makes it a great choice as a standalone potted plant.
Although not a flowering shrub, boxwood is a hardy plant that will provide reliably green foliage year-round, whether planted in a bed or contained in a pot as a sculpted topiary. For a potted boxwood, choose a tall container with good drainage to keep the roots from rotting, and water less frequently through the cold winter months.
Although these evergreens will put out blooms in spring and summer, their vibrant foliage is what earns them a spot on our winter plant list! The large leaves can be smooth, ruffled, patterned, or variegated, with colors ranging from silver to black, coral, red, white, pink, peach, yellow, and more.
Chinese Fringe Flower
This blooming shrub provides a pop of color even when it’s not flowering, with leaves ranging from olive and bronze to burgundy and red, depending on the varietal you choose. A relative of witch hazel, Chinese Fringe Flower produces similar spidery blooms in February, in a Valentine palette of red, white, and pink.
Summer will be here before you know it, with grass to mow and thirsty plants to water – so take some time this winter to chill out and enjoy these low-maintenance season-proof shrubs.