Winter time in the Pacific Northwest isn’t normally associated with colorful plants. Our yards are usually a combination of greens and browns. However, that doesn’t have to be the rule. Make your yard stand out in the winter by incorporating some of these eye-catching plants.
1. Camellia sasanqua
This winter flowering Camellia blooms in Portland from late October into February. Colors range from white to red and every version of pink in between. The flowers are sweetly scented, smaller than Japanese Camellias and hold up to winter rain better than Japanese Camellias. Plant in a shady area. Try the ‘Yuletide’ cultivar for blooms around Christmas. Grows 8-10’ tall, 6-8’ wide.
2. Edgeworthia (Paperbush)
In late winter, Edgeworthia’s white buds open to reveal clusters of soft, buttery yellow blossoms, sometimes starting as early as January and lasting through March. It also has distinctive, attractive bark. Edgeworthia papyrifera is slightly smaller and has more delicate flowers and branching. It reaches about 5′ tall and 6′ wide. Keep out of the intense afternoon sun, it does best where it receives bright, dappled light or morning sun.
3. Hamamelis × intermedia (Witch hazel)
These spidery, fragrant, flowers bloom from January to March on bare branches before the spring foliage emerges. ‘Pallida’ is noted for its abundant bloom of yellow flowers, quality foliage, pleasant fall colors and attractive form. It grows to 12 feet tall and wide. Best flowering is in full sun.
4. Cornus sericea (Red-Twig Dogwood)
The red upright stems of this shrub make it a stand-out beauty, especially in winter! Its berry-like fruits will draw birds to your garden in numbers. This is a PNW Native and a good plant for rain gardens or wet conditions. The ‘Midwinter Fire’ cultivar has gold branches in the center which radiate to burning red tips. Grows 5-6’.
5. Galanthus (Snowdrop)
These small, easy-to-grow bulbs emerge and bloom in late winter and are a sure sign of spring. Their dainty, nodding white flowers are pretty enough, but take a second and look inside the petals for a bonus display of understated beauty. They will naturalize easily, slowly expanding into colonies. Plant in full sun to part shade.
6. Helleborus hybrid (Lenten rose)
The blooming of hellebores is a favorite late winter reminder that spring is right around the corner. Their flowers provide color and interest in the shade garden when other plants are dormant. In addition, their leaf structure is interesting enough to make them a foundation of the shade garden year-round, even when their flowers are spent. Their most impressive feature is their five-petal bowl-shaped flowers which appear from late winter into spring in colors as diverse as apricot, yellow, green, metallic blue, slate, dusky pink, maroon and white.
7. Cyclamen coum (Hardy Cyclamen)
The Hardy Cyclamen is a no-fuss perennial, blooming in winter to early spring and receding in summer when other plants are ready to take center stage. They will grow particularly well under deciduous trees where exposure to the sun is full in early spring but gradually changes to part shade as the trees leaf out. They will naturalize well to form large colonies. Grows in full sun or light shade.
8. Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon Grape)
This bird-friendly, PNW native is Oregon’s state flower. Although its bright yellow flowers bloom in spring, the leaves take on striking shades of bright red to burgundy in fall and winter. It will grow to 5 feet tall and likes shady areas.
9. Euphorbia ‘Rudolph’
An evergreen with charming winter interest, ‘Rudolph’ has blue-green foliage which develops brilliant red accents as the weather cools. In the spring, sprays of chartreuse and red flowers appear on this compact and worry-free perennial. Plant in full sun to part shade. Grows to 3 feet by 3 feet.
10. Erica carnea (Winter Heath)
Heaths are compact evergreen shrubs with needle-like foliage and small drooping bell-shaped flowers which bloom in winter. The flower colors come in shades of red, pink or white. The plants blend together especially well when planted in masses and they grow to about 1′ tall by 2′ wide.