5 Shrubs For Winter Color

How to add color to the winter landscape

March 18, 2014

It’s no surprise that your yard looks dull and colorless in the winter—but it doesn’t have to. Fortunately, there are easy-to-grow shrubs for all climates that show off their best features in winter. It’s worth keeping the winter months in mind when shopping for plants.

‘Elegantissima’ Redtwig Dogwood

Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’
Providing brilliant color in the autumn and winter months, the bright red twigs of ‘Elegantissima’ really shine—even on dull days. For the rest of the year, the dark green leaves are edged in white. And this sturdy dogwood can handle our coldest winters, too. Best in sun. Cut back hard in spring.
4 feet tall by 3 feet wide; hardy to USDA Plant Hardiness Zone


Mediterranean Crown Vetch

Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca
This little gem can be in flower at almost any time of year in mild climates, but it’s in late winter and spring that its neat clusters of yellow, peach-scented, pealike flowers are at their most prolific against prettily lobed, slightly bluish leaves. Ideal in the southwest in sun and well-drained soil.
3 feet by 3 feet; Zone 8

‘Jacqueline Postill’ Nepalese Daphne

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’
Primarily a West Coast plant, though worth trying in the southeast, this is the hardiest variety of an intoxicatingly fragrant evergreen. Each flower has purplish red buds that open to white flowers yet retain the dark coloring on the backs. Upright in growth. Often regrows well if cut back by frost.
8 feet by 3 feet; Zone 7

‘James Roof’ Wayleaf Silktassel

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’
A choice, vigorous form of this West Coast native with 8-inch, slightly red-tinted, grayish green winter catkins covering the plant and handsomely set against leathery, evergreen foliage. It happily tolerates a few branches being cut for the house, where it lasts well. Good on a wall or fence.
10 feet by 8 feet; Zone 8

‘Arnold Promise’ Asian Witch Hazel

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’
Unlike many Asian witch hazels, ‘Arnold Promise’ features the valuable combination of bright, spidery winter and spring flowers, a strong fragrance, and fiery fall color. Developed at Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum, ‘Arnold Promise’ matures into an attractive vase-like shape. Best in humus-rich soil in sun or partial shade; dislikes alkaline soils.
10 feet by 8 feet; Zone 5

Photos: © Gardenphotos.com

Next Up From Rodale's Organic Life

Where Backyard Birds Go During Winter
Fix up your yard to be hospitable to year-round avian visitors.
What The Heck Does Well-Drained Soil Actually Mean?
We get to the bottom of this common gardening term.
STOP: Before You Toss That Cracked Garden Hose—Fix It
Even large holes can be repaired without a lot of expense.