Winter Interest Shrubs That Brighten Your Landscape

Jan 2, 2020

A winter landscape has a beauty unique to the season itself. As most of your garden takes a long winter’s nap these shrubs add a welcoming element with brightly colored berries, evergreen textured foliage, and a pop of color to contrast the otherwise dormant landscape. 

When choosing bushes for your yard consider shrubs that will add year-round interest. The green foliage of boxwoods adds a sense of permanence to the landscape, and while we don't want to discount the importance of green, there are many other options that will add bright golds and yellows, reds and blues during the less colorful winter months. 

Few plants rival the bright yellow flowers of Mahonia and the formal double white flowers of Camellia white by the gate that blooms from November through April.  Ilex verticillata is a deciduous holly and is known for its bright red berries, which put on a show when the leaves fall off in the winter. Some dogwoods such as Cornus Midwinter Fire are standouts in the winter garden due to their colorful stems. 

Deciding which winter interest shrub is best for you is a matter of personal choice, but hopefully, we can clear up some of the confusion behind these underused group of plants.

Easy to Grow Winter Interest Shrubs

Winter interest shrubs can be divided up into four categories: Evergreen Shrubs, Winter Flowering Shrubs, Shrubs with Colorful Bark, and Shrubs with Winter Berries.

Evergreen Shrubs with winter Interest

Shamrock Holly Shrubs: Ilex glabra 'Shamrock" was chosen for its compact habit and bright, glistening foliage. This dwarf, evergreen shrub makes an excellent hedge or border plant. The dense twiggy habit displays an abundance of black berries throughout winter. Be sure to add the male Ilex glabra 'Nordic' to ensure berry production.

 Blue Princess Holly: The Blue Princess Holly Shrub has plentiful, bright red berries on purple stems. This goes well with the dense, blue-green foliage. Partner with a male Blue Prince Holly pollenizer for a prolific berry set. This makes an excellent hedge or foundation shrub.

 Vintage Gold Cypress: The Vintage Gold Cypress is a slow-growing, evergreen shrub with vibrant golden/green foliage that will bring a nice contrast to any winter landscape. A great option for privacy or hedge planting, it's a low-maintenance, deer-resistant plant. It can even tolerate brief dry spells and full sun without burning.

Olive Martini Eleagnus: Olive Martini Elaeagnus produces vibrant colored evergreen foliage that is edged in gold. Sometimes called Silverberry, it creates a striking display on a sunny border or when used as a privacy screen/buffer.

 Blue Pacific Juniper: Blue Pacific Juniper is a versatile, sprawling ground cover that tolerates hot, dry locations in full sun. Blue Pacific cascades over retaining walls and adds a beautiful blue color to the winter landscape. 

Flowering Shrubs for Winter Interest

Mahonia Winter Sun: Mahonia Winter Sun is a beautiful, evergreen shrub that becomes a dramatic focal point for the winter garden due to its bright burst of yellow flowers beginning in January. Use as a privacy hedge or buffer screen. 

 Camellias: Camellias are a large group of winter interest plants and are divided up into Late Fall thru Winter-flowering and Late Winter thru Early Spring Flowering varieties.

Shrubs with Colorful Bark

Yellow Twig Dogwood: In the winter landscape, the yellow buds of this Dogwood shrub standout, especially when grown against a dark-colored background or when displayed in a snowy landscape. Sometimes called Cornus sericea.

 Red Twig Dogwood: Red Twig Dogwood is a winner due to its fiery red stems in the winter. In the summer, the flowers give way to beautiful porcelain blue berries that are adored by birds. When the days begin to shorten and the temperatures begin to fall, delicate tones of red and purple are displayed in the leaves before they drop. The best thing, it's deer-resistant.

 Midwinter Fire Dogwood: The Midwinter Fire Dogwood shrub is an all year round show stopper. In the spring it has interesting foliage that is a warm blend of pale yellow to a faint red, giving it a unique look. In the winter, the bark is a fiery kaleidoscope of yellow to red shades.

Shrubs with Winter Berries

Sparkleberry Holly: Sparkleberry Holly, or Winterberry, has bright red berries appear in early fall and persist through winter. New foliage emerges showy red in the spring.

 Viburnum Blue Muffin: Viburnum Blue Muffin one of the most versatile Viburnums available today. It's more compact than other Arrowwood viburnums, and it fits easily into even the smallest of residential landscapes.  It then produces hundreds of intense blue berries in late summer and fall. The berries not only add interest to the winter landscape but attract songbirds to the garden.

This is just a small list of winter interest shrubs.  If you need help making choices or just want to discuss other plants available, you can contact one of our plant specialists and we'll be happy to help out. 

When can I plant winter interest shrubs?

Shrubs can be planted just about any time of the year. One of the best times to plant shrubs is in the fall through early spring. Planting in the fall, allows the shrubs to establish a healthy root system during the colder months, without requiring regular watering. Planting in early spring will kick start your gardening season providing year-long enjoyment. 

Until Next Time, stay warm and enjoy the winter landscape. 

- Woodie

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