Landscape Plants that can Brighten up a Winter Landscape

Posted: January 2, 2013

When most people think about color in their landscapes, they‘re thinking about spring and summer flowers, but there are some plants that can add wonderful colors and interest to your landscape in winter...

You might want to consider adding the following plants to your landscape before next winter.

Red-Stemmed Dogwood is a wonderful shrub that produces white clusters of tiny flowers in May, porcelain blue fruit, brilliant red-purplish fall foliage and deep red stems that are quite showy in winter, snowy landscapes.   Pruning older, gray stems out of this shrub will help maintain its size and shape as well as maintain the red color of stems.

Winterberry Holly is a deciduous shrub that produces long stems that are covered with red berries from August through winter.  It can grow between 6 and 9 feet tall.  It can be a real knock out in the garden all winter long.

Witch Hazel is large shrub (5 to 9 feet tall) that produces yellow or reddish yellow flowers in mid winter.  Long wavy, strap-like petals appear on bare branches.  Plant this shrub near entries and patios.

Ornamental grasses such as Maiden, Switch, and Feather Reed Grass all add texture and color to winter landscapes, as well as screening.  

Scarlet Firethorn or Pyracantha is broadleaf evergreen that is a member of the rose family.  It produces large, umbel-like flowers ranging from white to pale rose to rosy purple in mid-May.  It holds brilliant orange fruit in clusters which last throughout the winter.  This shrub can be espaliered and trained to grow against a wall or fence in a landscape setting.

American Cranberry is large deciduous, rounded shrub that can grow to 15 feet tall with maple-like, lobed, dark green leaves that turn shades of red, yellow and purple in autumn.  It produces large clusters of red berries that persist into the winter and provide food for songbirds.

This winter try to find some of these interesting and showy plants in landscapes and create a list of plants you can add to your landscape this coming spring planting season.   For more information on selecting shrubs for Pennsylvania landscapes visit 

By Vincent Cotrone, Extension Urban Forester