Winter is often regarded as a quiet time for flowering. However in mild winters we may see many stunning, vibrant plants begin to flower as early as December. An unexpected eruption of colour sprouting out from an otherwise bleak garden has the ability to lift anyone with winter dampened spirits. Find below our top five winter wildflowers for the upcoming cooler months.
This flowering tuber is a tough, resilient plant perfect for winter gardens. Despite this the cyclamen is well known for its delightfully quaint little scented flowers. The sophisticated five petal flowers display shades of white, purple or pink.
The flower stem twists and coils into a spiral after flowering, to bring the cyclamen fruit (which also doubles-up as a seed disperser) closer to the ground for bugs and insects to feast upon.
Cyclamen are a tad sensitive to both under and over watering. Therefore ensure the plant is placed in soil that has excellent drainage and is rich in fertile, organic matter. A spot in partial sun or full shade is the perfect place to plant cyclamen.
The hellebore, known also as the “Lenten rose” is a gorgeous winter flower. When it flourishes with beautiful softly shaded petals you’ll know immediately spring is near. Most hellebores have small maroon dots dispersed towards the lower portion of each petal. If you want a flower that stays blooming for a long period of time, this plant is your friend. The flowers you see in January will be the same flowers you see towards mid-spring; however they will fade slightly – sometimes to a lighter shade, sometimes darker.
The hellebore prefers shaded areas. Avoid planting the flower out in the full sun. If you’ve got a spot next to your house that’s usually difficult to plant, something that’s really dark and shady, that’ll make a good place for a hellebore.
Winter aconite is a clump-forming tuber that holds cheerful cup-shaped flowers. Their bright golden-yellow petals may seem familiar to you; the flower is a member of the woodland buttercup family.
The flowers of the winter aconite are temperature sensitive. They’ll remain tightly closed until the winter chill is over and temperatures return above 10°C. The flowers then proceed to spread open triumphantly in all their golden glory, allowing the brave early bees to feast on their delicious pollen.
Winter aconite flourishes in both direct sunlight and below deciduous trees. The plant will be happy in most soils but particularly loves moist, chalky earth.
Don’t prejudge the pansy by its name. This small but hardy plant is colourful winter to spring and wonderfully easy to grow. Whilst other flowers are freezing over, this fighter remains blooming even in light snow.
Pansies are a beginner gardener favourite. They require little maintenance and are resistant to disease. The iconic round flower has five distinct petals and is one of the oldest plants to be cultivated. They have a delightful ever so slightly minty flavour and can be used to decorate salads.
Pansies must be planted in full sun well before the first frost. This will give the roots time to develop and settle. They are hungry plants and will perform well when fed frequently. Take care when watering in winter as to prevent the soil beneath them freezing.
Okay we’ll admit this is a long shot! The snowdrop isn’t exactly the most colourful winter wildflower. However this unique bell-shaped flower deserves a mention, being the gardener’s signal that the worst of winter is over and spring is on the horizon. Its name is certainly appropriate. To many gardeners’ surprise, snowdrops may boldly emerge from the deep, warm depths of the earth even when thin, sparse patches of snow still cover the landscape.
Snowdrops are very hardy and thrive well in dappled shade. They’ll be very happy scattered between shrubbery and beneath deciduous trees. Snowdrop bulbs are perfect for planting in the autumn time, ready to burst out after the worst of winter is behind us. They prefer moist soil with lots of humus.
So that’s our run down of our top five winter hardy plants to survive the impending frosts – Happy planting! Feeling inspired? Check out National Garden Gift Vouchers who are also running a Herb Garden Competition. Find lots of wildflower inspiration for summer planting at our wildflowers hub page, along with plenty of growing tips.
Tony is Marketing Manager at the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), the organisation who administer the National Garden Gift Voucher Scheme. HTA are the leading trade association representing the UK garden industry. Tony is incredibly passionate about promoting gardening campaigns to children and non-gardeners to get the nation more green fingered and inspired to grow their own own food.