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Horticulture and Home Pest News
Horticulture & Home Pest News is filled with articles on current horticulture, plant care, pest management, and common household pests written by Iowa State University Extension specialists in the Departments of Entomology, Horticulture and Plant Pathology.

Gardening for Winter

This article was published originally on 4/5/1996
While winter is the farthest thing from most gardener's minds (though Mother Nature keeps firmly reminding us of its persistence this year), an attractive landscape requires careful planning for seasonal interest throughout the year. Since the Iowa landscape is dormant 4 to 6 months of the year, extending the attractiveness of the landscape and garden into the fall and winter can help make our winters a little more bearable. Winter gardening doesn't use the flowers and fragrances of summer gardening. Instead a variety of plants are used to add shape, color and texture to create eye-catching displays.

Evergreen trees and shrubs with various shades of greens and blues and interesting shapes are staples of many winter landscapes. Deciduous trees with interesting bark characteristics like paperbark maple or unusual branching habits like pagoda dogwood can also aid in providing winter charm.

Many herbaceous perennials also have interesting fall and winter appeal. Some have foliage like bergenia which turns maroon with the onset of cold temperatures. The foliage of grape-hyacinth emerges late in the season and persists through winter. Perennials like Achillea overwinter with a rosette of foliage close to the ground. Lavender, sage, thyme and other herbs hold their foliage late in the season. Yucca plants possess a unique character especially after a snowfall. Some ornamental grasses are grown specifically for their attractive seedheads in the winter.

The following list contains additional perennial suggestions for winter gardens.

BugleweedAjuga reptans
Rock CressArabis caucasica
European Wild GingerAsarum europaeum
Sea ThriftArmeria maritima
Basket-of-GoldAurinia saxatilis
BergeniaBergenia spp.
Snow-in-SummerCerastium tomentosum
BarrenwortEpimedium spp.
Lenten RoseHelleborus orientalis
Coral BellsHeuchera spp.
Evergreen CandytuftIberis sempervirens
Spotted Dead NettleLamium maculatum
Moss PhloxPhlox subulata
Bethlehem SagePulmonaria spp.
Autumn Joy sedumSedum x 'Autumn Joy'
Stonecrop SedumSedum spectabile
Lamb's EarsStachys byzantina
Foam FlowerTiarella cordifolia
Grasses with winter interest
Feather Reed GrassCalamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
Fall Blooming Reed GrassCalamagrostis brachytricha
Giant MiscanthusMiscanthus floridulus
Small Japanese Silver GrassMiscanthus oligostachyus
Chinese Silver GrassMiscanthus sacchariflorus
Silverfeather MiscanthusMiscanthus sinensis 'Siberfedher'
Moor GrassMolinia caerulea (all cultivars)
Switch GrassPanicum virgatum
Red Switch GrassPanicum virgatum 'Haense Herms','Rotstrahlbusch','Rehbraun'
Fountain GrassPennisetum alopecuroides
Little BluestemSchizachyrium scoparium
Cord GrassSpartina pectinata
Variegated Cord GrassSpartina pectinata ''Aureomarginata'
Prairie DropseedSporobolus heterolepsis
Ferns with attractive winter appeal
Ebony SpleenwortAsplenium platyneuron
Marginal Shield FernDryopteris marginalis
Christmas FernPolystichum acrostichoides

Most people desire a colorful landscape throughout the year. Thoughtful planning and careful consideration of various trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants can provide year round garden interest.



This article originally appeared in the April 5, 1996 issue, pp. 1996 issue, pp. 46-47.

Year of Publication: 
1996
Issue: 
IC-475(7) -- April 5, 1996