Sick of winter gloom and ready for spring and summer sunshine? When we think about beautiful plants, flashy spring blooms and attractive fall foliage often come to mind. Winter isn’t a time we generally associate with attractive gardens but there are many species that can add reliable tone, texture, and contrast to your winter plant palette, especially in mild winter climates like California. Check out a few shrubs and groundcovers that are guaranteed to add a special something to your landscape in the dreary winter months!
Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Sheen’
Silver Sheen Kohuhu
This fast growing, upright shrub is often used for tall screens or sheared into a hedge. Pittosporum provides stable, year round interest with little maintenance. ‘Silver Sheen’ is known for its delicate silvery leaves that sparkle in the sunlight and elegantly contrast with its sleek, dark branches.
Sunset Zones: 9, 14-17, 19-24; evergreen shrub
Size: 12’-18’ H x 6-8’ W Sun: full to partial Water: medium
Branching from the base and rooting along its stems, this hardy succulent provides year round, low maintenance interest through its striking color and texture. With small, powdery, blue-green leaves, Blue Chalksticks is a great massing groundcover or can be used as an accent in a pot arrangement.
Sunset Zones: 16, 17, 21-24; succulent perennial
Size: 6″ H x 1’ W Sun: full to partial Water: low
Coleonema pulchellum ‘Sunset Gold‘
Gold Breath of Heaven
This compact shrub provides striking contrast with yellow-green foliage and feathery texture. Its delicate character is reinforced with small, pale pink flowers blooming in winter and spring. Plant for an alluring massing effect, a pop of contrasting color, or as an accent specimen.
Sunset Zones: 7-9, 14-24; evergreen shrub
Size: 1.5’ H X 4’ W Sun: full to partial Water: medium
Lomandra longifolia ‘Breeze’
Dwarf Mat Rush
Becoming a popular staple in many planting designs, Lomondra is an attractive, low maintenance, low water alternative to Liriope. Its narrow deep green leaves form an arching, rounded clump. Lomandra is striking when planted in large groups, highlighting the graceful way it moves in the winter wind.
Sunset Zones: 12-24; evergreen grass-like perennial
Size: 2’-3’ H x 2’-4’ W Sun: sun or shade Water: low
Ground Morning Glory
This soft, gray-green groundcover provides an eye catching accent between plants or pavers or in pots. Best known for its periwinkle funnel shaped flowers, these will bloom on and off year round, giving you some color and flower in winter months! Blooming is heaviest in summer and fall.
Sunset Zones: 4-9, 12-24; evergreen perennial
Size: 1.5’ H x 2-3’ W Sun: sun or shade Water: low
Blue Oat Grass
Blue Oat Grass is a reliable, clump-forming grass providing calming tones to your color palette. Its blue-green leaves are accompanied by tall, tan colored flower clusters in summer. A California native, Blue Oat Grass does best in well-drained soils and requires little maintenance once established.
Sunset Zones: 1-12, 14-24; evergreen perennial grass
Size: 2’-3’ H x 2’-3’ W Sun: full to partial Water: low
Arctostaphylos densiflora ‘Howard McMinn‘
Vine Hill Manzanita
‘Howard McMinn’ is an extremely reliable shrub to use as an accent or screen. Its smooth, dark red, architectural branching structure contrasts nicely with its bright shiny leaves and surrounding shrubs. This California Native has attractive urn shaped flowers that bloom in late winter attracting hummingbirds and butterflies.
Sunset Zones: 7-9, 14-21; shrub
Size: 5′-8′ H x 7′ W Sun: full to partial Water: low
Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard‘
Color Guard Adam’s Needle
This architectural plant is always striking with its creamy yellow leaves edged in deep green. But it’s even more dramatic in the winter when it wears a tinge of apricot. Use it as an accent or in large masses in the landscape. It is also a reliable specimen in a pot.
Sunset Zones: 1-24; evergreen succulent/cactus
Size: 3-4’ H x 4’ W Sun: full to partial Water: low
Article written by Mikaela Bernhardt
Please Share & Follow Us