When looking for what to plant in a winter garden, you may come across many articles telling you what to plant in late fall/early winter for the plants to bloom for spring. You’ll find yourself saying, “I don’t want to wait until spring. I want plants that will flourish during the winter.” This concern is fair and very common. Let’s discuss which vegetables, flowers, plants, and trees will thrive in a winter landscape and allow you to keep that curb appeal so that you are not left with bare, stick-like plants going into the colder months.
If you are looking for options for edible plants and vegetables that will grow during the winter months, here are a few that can tolerate temperatures below freezing.
- Beets can tolerate frost and can be grown as a winter crop in mild-winter regions. It has been found that plants that are planted later and mature during the winter months are typically the sweetest. This is because their roots store sugars during the cool weather.
- Broccoli, in general, can survive temperatures as low as 40°F, and some existing plants may even be able to survive temperatures as low as 25°F. Broccoli does require full sun along with rich, moist soil. However, it thrives in cooler weather and is frost tolerant.
- Cabbage that is grown in a colder tolerance and started later in the season has a better chance of being successful. Some types of winter cabbages include Huron, OS Cross, and Danish Ball Head. These types are long season varieties that may produce well into winter.
- Carrots need to be planted about 12 weeks before the first frost date. Unlike some other vegetables, carrots will not grow in the winter, they just stay fresh.
- Cauliflower grows best in winter in locations where the temperature does not go below 25 degrees.
- Collards are biennials that typically live through the winter in USDA Hardiness Zones 8-10, though in a mild year they may even survive in colder zones unassisted.
- Green Onions can survive the winter in most hardiness zones and will be edible until they begin to bloom flowers in the early spring.
- Kale can survive even when temperatures fall to 10 below zero. If you live in a hardiness zone of 7 or above, kale will grow nicely during the winter.
- Piquant mustard greens offer a pretty appearance when it comes to winter garden plants. These greens can tolerate a light frost, which in turn makes their leaves sweeter. In areas where there are no killing freezes, you can enjoy growing mustard greens all winter long.
- Parsnip is usually grown as a winter annual. It is said that parsnips taste better after they have experienced some frost. Freezing temperatures cause the starches in parsnip roots to turn into sugar. This results in a carrot-like root vegetable that offers a naturally sweet, nutty flavor.
- Radishes should be prepared in a deep, fertile bed of soil. You can try using a cloche, which is essentially a mini-greenhouse placed over a plant. They absorb the sun’s heat throughout the day and use it to insulate the plants housed inside during chilly nights.
- Swiss Chard tolerates frost and can even taste better when it's grown in cold weather. It should be noted though that Swiss chard plants will be killed if the weather is below 15 degrees F.
Plants, grasses, and trees for winter
If you are looking to add some color and texture to your landscape during the winter months, here are some options to consider:
- Red or Yellow Twig Dogwoods the red dogwood grows up to 8 feet tall with a spread that is equally as wide. The yellow twig dogwood is a deciduous flowering shrub that is a cultivar of the red dogwood (Cornus Sericea). This rapid-growing, suckering cultivar has greenish-yellow stems. It grows upright and when mature, reaches a height of 5 to 6 feet. Its stiff woody branches can be cut for accenting container gardens and floral compositions.
- Ornamental Grasses Carex, Orange New Zealand Sedge, Mexican Feather Grass, Ornamental Millet, Umbrella Grass, Scottish Tufted Hair Grass, Purple Fountain Grass, Pink Muhly Grass are known for their hardiness, ease of care, and dramatic appearance. They are available in a wide variety of colors, textures, and sizes.
- White and Paper Bark Birches A medium to fast growing tree that can grow anywhere from 13 to 24 inches per year. White birch trees have a slender trunk about a foot in width and noticeably drooping branches throughout its canopy. Paper birch bark peels off the tree in long, narrow strips and exposes an inner bark that is orange in color.
There are a handful of flowers that will bloom in the Winter, however, they do need to be planted in the Spring. Let’s discuss which plants in your garden this would apply to.
- Pieris Japonica plants develop and begin to produce in the late fall, but they will remain unopened until the very end of winter which is when they produce coppery-pink clusters of urn-shaped flowers.
- Honeywort are known for being annuals that grow in the winter months in warmer climates. In unusually cold weather, the leaves turn deep blue in color.
- The Kaffir Lily displays beautiful red flowers in late winter and early spring.
- Sweet Alyssum are delicate and beautiful in color. They are best suited for fall, winter, and even early spring.
- Camellia range in color from white to pink to crimson and can bloom all the way through winter.
- Honeysuckle has creamy-white flowers that emit a lemony smell and develop in the winter.
- Holly Bushes are known for their red berries and “holiday spirit” and can survive harsh winters.
- Witch Hazel grows on a tree sprout in winter and creates clusters bunched together on branches.
- Hellebore, nicknamed the Christmas rose blooms during the darkest time of the year. It emerges just when everything else is frozen and has a deep-reaching root system.
Remember, even winter gardens need to be properly fertilized, watered and maintained to produce healthy vegetables. Learn about the types of fertilizers to use in the winter to keep your crop healthy and strong.
Related Topic: Guide to Winter Plant Care
Fertilizers to Use in the Winter
If you’re looking for a project to keep you busy this winter then a winter garden is a fun way to stay active throughout the winter months, even when the weather turns cold. If you have questions or need help with the rest of your landscaping, reach out to The Grounds Guys. We’re the local experts when it comes to keeping your garden and the rest of your yard healthy and looking its best. For more information on winter gardening and our services, visit us online today!