Patio plants can be a welcome reminder of green in the midst of short days and leaf-bare trees during the winter. Winter plants are a visual spectacle that will liven up your patio space for entertaining or just enjoying when you look out the window. Using containers that compliment your patio decor, any winter plant will look beautiful in your outdoor space.
Many people don’t think to look for color in leaves, but evergreen and cold-hardy foliage boast an array of shades. Ornamental cabbage, with green outer leaves and fuchsia-red inner leaves, has impressive textural interest as well as a splash of bright color. It does well in planting boxes as well as pots with other plants and is hardy in most zones. Hart’s tongue fern has glossy, emerald green, ruffled leaves that look particularly vibrant in cold weather. It’s hardy in zones 5 to 9. Blue oat grass and many varieties of ivy have cool, blue-green foliage that looks elegant winter decor.
Blue oat grass can be a dramatic container plant for a year or two before it needs to be planted in planting beds. Ivy can be trained into topiary shapes, used as filler in pot arrangements or trained to cover your patio with color year-round. For bursts of unexpected peach or dark plum colors, look no further than Heuchera. Heuchera is hardy all the way into zone 3.
Winter color does not stop at foliage. Hellebore, also known as the Christmas rose, is hardy in zones 4 to 8 and blooms with white, pink or even deep purple flowers in winter. Cheerful primrose comes in an even more astonishing array of colors, even rich navy blue. It does best in zones 9 and 10, but some varieties are hardy to zone 5. Cold-hardy clematis will also give bursts of color and unique texture in warmer zones. The popular “Freckles” variety blooms from December to February with cream-colored, cupped flowers spotted with beautiful raspberry red. As a bonus, it requires very little pruning and thrives in containers.
There are even winter shrubs that carry heavenly scents. Daphnes, hardy to zone 5, become freckled with tiny, sweet-scented flowers in winter. Daphne odora, also called winter daphne, develops clusters of pale pink blooms in February. The scent will carry and fill your whole patio. Winter sweet, hardy to zone 7, is an evergreen shrub that produces butter yellow, spicy-scented flowers in late winter. Branches of winter sweet also make wonderful cuttings for indoor flower arrangements. For a fragrant tabletop plant, try a rosemary topiary.
Fruit-bearing evergreens are attractive to not only humans but to birds as well. Robins, mockingbirds and bluebirds love holly berries, and the bushes look lush all winter long. Privet will produce dense clusters of impressive, dark navy berries. Checkerberry, with its deep green, waxy leaves and big pink-red berries, does well in tabletop baskets.
Winter is not nearly as desolate as it seems. Dress up your patio with color, texture and fragrance for a reminder that spring is on its way.
Looking for more patio decor tips from Jenn Somers? Visit Patioshoppers.com today for advice and products that will change your patio from drab to fab!