Planting for Winter Flowers
In Sydney we are fortunate to have a fairly mild winter, this means that plant choices are fairly wide. It is important to be mindful that some areas still experience frost so make sure to read your planting guides.
Winter is a great time for flowers plants - Yes, just because it is cooler it doesn't mean we have to miss out on flowers. And who doesn't love flowers in their garden!
There are so many to choose from and the list below is just touching the surface. What else can you think of that flowers beautifully in winter?
Snowdrops and snowflakes - Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis, meaning milk white flowers) and the similar-looking snowflakes (Leucojum) grow beautifully under deciduous magnolias and contribute to a wintry scene. These plants are very hardy, and the colder the weather, the longer the flowers last. They look best randomly placed in light shade, and can be planted through a border, under deciduous shrubs in a woodland setting or in grass under a tree.
Lavender - Lavenders are Mediterranean in origin, so are great for water-wise gardeners. They thrive in well-drained parts of the garden, and need minimal watering. Lavenders do well in exposed, sunny, open positions, and grow to one-metre, bun-shaped balls. They flower prolifically in winter — and because lavenders are native to windswept areas of the Mediterranean coast, they respond well to pruning and can become leggy (grow abnormally tall due to lack of light) and straggly without it. Conduct two good pruning a year, after flowering, to cut back, followed by a fertiliser, such as blood and bone, to encourage quick re-growth.
Winter rose - The winter rose (Helleborus) is not a rose at all, but a low ground cover with shy, nodding flowers, pretty spotted markings and papery texture. They are perfect to pick, good to float in bowls and last forever. They are perfect beneath deciduous trees such as magnolias, crepe myrtles and maples, where winter sunshine will encourage more flowers and the summer canopy will protect them from too much heat. After summer, prune off old leaves, allowing sunlight to reach the plant to encourage flowering in winter.
Fairy primrose - Primula obconica, better known as primrose, is lovely in winter. Thirty centimetre-high clusters of soft, lacy flowers come in white, pink, lavender and magenta and only last one season, from winter to spring. Plant them in pots for the house and garden to liven up bare spaces in winter.
Paper daisy - Another winter-flowering native which boasts thousands of starry-white flowers is the Rhodanthe paper star, a more compact form of the species. It loves well-drained soils and spilling over walls and covering the ground. Admired for its blue-grey foliage, papery-white flower petals and yellow centres, it may grow to 50cm. Particularly attractive when flowering, plant several close together for an impressive display.
Daphne - Who can ignore this sweet-smelling winter favourite? Give it a spot with morning sun and protection from cold winds. Sweet Daphne Odora comes from the wooded hillsides of China and Japan, and has clusters of small, starry, pale-pink flowers in winter. If you plant it in filtered sunshine, and moist, cool, humus-rich soil that is well drained and slightly acidic, your daphne should last 10 years. The variegated form is lovely, with a narrow white edge to the polished green leaf. Just make sure you don’t over-water and if you suspect disease, water with a professional Anti Rot remedy.
Do you need some advice about the best plants for your landscape? Speak to the team at Branching Out Landscape and Design.