Plants for winter colour.

If you are looking for plants which will flower during winter. There are now a number to choose from. The plant everbody thinks of is the Christmas Rose (Helebores). These have been around for a long time but recent improvements mean that there is a great variety of colour and mixes. The plants spread eventually but take a long time to do so. They like deep, well drained soil, so choose their site carefully and leave them in all year. They will retain their leaves which are quite pretty.

Pansies are, perhaps, the most popular of winter flowers. There are now a number of varieties which flower during winter, giving you a great selection of colours. However, be careful that you choose the right variety, as many pansies flower during summer, not winter.

Perhaps the most trendy flower at the moment is Ballis Perennis. This is a small daisy-like flower which bloms very early in the spring, and will keep flowering. I have some which started flowering last February and is still producing flowers. There are two distinct types – one produces daisy like flowers and the other produces what I assume to be double flowers. They look a bit like domes and are pink with whits tips.

Winter aconites (Eranthus lyemalis) are a very old pplant which was always popular in cottage gardens. It looks a bit like a buttercup and, given the right conditions will spread all over the place becoming almost invasive. It thrives in heavy loam soils, but will also grow in other soils.

One of the lesser known flowers is Hepatica. This is a perennial and has a number of varieties in shades of whire, red and purple. Its flowers lok like Cosmos, although of course its foliage does not.

Apart from these plants, there are a number of bulbs which flower in winter or very early spring. Of course snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) is among them. You should remember when buying these, that they do not grow well from bare bulbs. Always buy the bulbs ‘in the green’. That means with leaves attached to them. This can make them a bit expensive to buy at first (and the bulbs may not do anything for the first year!) but persevere. They should reward you with flowers the second year and, given reasonable conditions – no moving them- they will flourish and give larger and better displays year on year. If you do feel the need to move them, do so whilst they still have leaves, immediately after they have flowered.

Cyclamen will also give you a good display of flowers. They dislike exposed conditions (I have some under my Raspberries which works quite well as the raspberries are cut down in the late summer/early autumn so allow the cyclamen room to do their thing. If you do not do anything with them, cyclamenn will send out long curly shoots which will develop into new corms (a bit like strawberry runners but they are very curly). They come in a variety of pinks and reds and of course white. Many people have cyclamen in pots in their house over Christmas. When you have finished with them indoors leave them in a coler environment, then in spring plant them outside. They should grow well. The leaves on cyclamen often do not appear until after the flowers have blomed.he leaves in themselves are worth keeping the plant for, they have beautiful patterns and are roughly heart shaped.

There are a number of Heathers (Ericas) available which will give you winter colour. However, check your soil for acidity as most Ericas like lime free soil.

Above are a few of the flowers available for winter colour. I am sure I have missed a great number. If you have a particular favourite, I would be interested to hear about it. I’m always on the lookout for new plants.

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