January Hues Giving You the Blues? Add Color to a Frosty Landscape

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Winter Interest Shrubs & Grasses Add Cheer to Zone 5 Gardens

Mid-winter in Maine leads many gardeners to dream of spring while looking out at a somber landscape. But cold temperatures don’t have to mean a lackluster yard. There are plenty of opportunities for Mainers to integrate color and interest in their winter gardens. Many shrubs, trees, and grasses take Maine winters in stride, putting on a show of blooms, bright stems, and colorful accents through freeze, frost, and snow cover. Here are a few of our favorites.

Winterberry

winterberryWinterberry (Ilex verticillata) is a must for Northeast gardens. When blooms are a distant memory, winterberry puts out bright red holly-like berries that brighten up the fall view. This deciduous plant loses its leaves in late fall, but the burst of berries sticks around long after the raking is over. Plant both male and female to ensure fruit; plant in spring or fall.

Arctic Fire Dogwood

artic-fire-dogwoodPlant this multitalented shrub in your garden, and let it surprise you when it drops its leaves to reveal branches of fireball red. An excellent eye-catcher for a snow-covered and otherwise dormant garden, the fiery twigs of the Arctic fire dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) produce berries in the winter months (for which birds will thank you) and white blooms in the spring. Plant in full or partial sun in spring or summer.

Witch Hazel

witch-hazelA popular deciduous shrub, Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) provides bloom-deprived Mainers with bright orange, red, and chartreuse foliage that announce the fall season. Flowers embellish the late fall with blooms that unfurl during the day and provide a lovely fragrance. Choose from diverse color options ranging from yellow to red depending on the cultivar, and reserve a spot in your backyard that will accommodate its 15 to 20-foot height.
 

False Cypress

false-cypressThose looking to add a splash of bright golden color to the winter landscape will do well to include a False Cypress (Cupressaceae) in their garden. This shrub forms a shaggy mound of thread-like foliage that brightens up many a green-dominated yard. There are several hundred cultivars, variants, and related species, including those with Zone 5 hardiness. “Golden Mops” are a colorful choice that will fit a more compact space.
 

Grasses

japanese-blood-grassThose seeking winter interest will enjoy adding grasses to their garden to provide stature and movement throughout the harshest winters. Look to Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus) to broaden your color palette. Container gardeners love this grass for summer, perhaps forgetting that it thrives in Zone 5. The dark purple leaves provide contrast and deliver fall berries to boot. Color lovers should also give Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata) a try to accent a small space garden. Its tips redden as it matures, providing blood red color by fall. Reaching 12-18” tall and spreading 24-35” wide, varieties are available that are hardy in Zone 5.

Ready to get planting?

Find these and other winter stunners at a garden center near you.

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2 thoughts on “January Hues Giving You the Blues? Add Color to a Frosty Landscape

  1. Winter is the perfect season, the ideas you have mentioned in this article is really good , these will surely add beauty to garden . Thanks for sharing this article.

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Lemon Queen Sunflowers - Helianthus annuus

Annual

 

Short Description

Beautiful butter yellow flowers blossom mid-summer to frost! Typically grow to more than 5 ft. tall. Expect 70 days to flower.

Growing Guidelines

  1. Around the last frost date, sow seeds directly into the soil.
  2. Plant seeds 1" deep and 6" apart.
  3. Water well after planting.
  4. Apply a 3"-4" layer of mulch to conserve water and keep down weeds.
  5. Thin seedlings to 1 ft. apart to allow 2 to 3 ft. between plants.

Care and Feeding
Plant in full sun. Sunflowers are drought-resistant, but they'll grow better if you water regularly from the time the flowers begin to develop until they're mature. Thriving in most soils, these flowers will become massive if given ample fertility, space and water. Harvest blossoms for continued flowering.

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Calendula Mix-Calendula officinalis

 

Short Description

Fruition has hand-selected this variety to have a brilliant diversity of colors with dozens of gorgeous, petals on each blossom.

Growing Guidelines

Direct sow (recommended)

  1. After the last frost, sow directly outside in the garden.
  2. Plant seed 24 to 36 inches apart in all directions.

Transplant method

  1. A cool-season plant, calendula can be started indoors in flats, under grow lights 6-8 weeks before the last frost for early season flowering.
  2. Seeds germinate in 5-15 days.

Care and Feeding
Plant in full sun to partial shade. Easy to grow and remarkably drought tolerant, calendula also thrives in containers and will readily naturalize when let go to seed.

Transplanting Tips

  1. Purchase a good seed starting soil like Espoma Organic seed starting mix or Coast of Maine.
  2. Use a small greenhouse tray(tray with a clear plastic dome) to germinate your seeds.
  3. When it's time to transplant into the garden, use a fertilizer like Espoma Flower-tone or Espoma Plant-tone.

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Purple Queen Anne's Lace

"Dara" Daucus carota

 

Short Description

Gorgeously laced 3-5" umbels in shades of burgundy, lilac, mauve & white on long, strong stems perfect for cutting, adored by pollinators. Related to our native carrot, Queen Anne's Lace.

Growing Guidelines

Direct sow (recommended)

  1. In early spring, after late frost, sow seeds directly in soil.
  2. Plant 1 seed 1/8" deep and 2" apart.
  3. Expect 2 weeks for germination.
  4. When seedlings are 2-3" tall, thin to 1 plant every 9-12".
  5. Support may be needed if fertility is high or if your garden is windy.

Transplant method

  1. Chill seed at 40 F 1-2 weeks prior to sowing 1/8" deep, 2 seeds per cell 4-5 weeks before planting out.
  2. Expect germination in 1-2 weeks.
  3. When first leaves appear, transplant into larger containers.
  4. Harden off & transplant with 9-12" between plants after last frost.

Care and Feeding
Plant in full sun. Expect 65-75 days to maturity. Dara has an exceptionally long vase life; harvest when 80% of an umbel's flowers are open & no pollen has shed. Enjoy 7-15 heads per plant on swaying 35-50" stalks.

Transplanting Tips

  1. Purchase a good seed starting soil like Espoma Organic seed starting mix or Coast of Maine.
  2. Use a small greenhouse tray(tray with a clear plastic dome) to germinate your seeds.
  3. When it's time to transplant into the garden, use a fertilizer like Espoma Flower-tone or Espoma Plant-tone.
Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Marigolds

Annual

Care and Feeding

Transplant Only: Sow 4 weeks before last frost shallowly, 2 seeds per cell and thin to 1, keeping soil surface moist until emergence. Transplant to larger containers when true leaves appear. Harden off and transplant outside when the danger of frost has passed with 12" between plants. Deadhead for blossoms all season.

  • Sowing Date: Indoors before last frost
  • Seed Depth: 1/4 inch
  • Days to Germination: 4-7 days at 75-80°F
  • Days to Maturity: 60
  • Plant spacing after thinning: 12 inches
  • Height: 12 inches

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Organic Mexican Sunflower (Torch Tithonia)

Annual

Care and Feeding
Direct Seed (recommended): After final frost, sow every 8" and thin to one every ~2'. Light required to germ, so barely cover seed. Full sun is best. Any (even poor) soil is suitable. Harvest flowers when 90% open for bouquets.

Transplant: Sow indoors 2-3 weeks before last frost, transplanting after frost with spacing below.
 
  • Sowing Date: After frost; Late May- early June
  • Seed Depth: 1/2 inch
  • Days to Germination: 7-14 days
  • Days to Maturity: 85
  • Plant spacing after thinning: 2 feet
  • Height: 5-7 feet

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Cosmos

Annual

Care and Feeding

Direct Seed (recommended): After last frost, shallowly sow 4 seeds/foot & thin to 1/foot when first true leaves appear. Wider spacing = thicker stronger stems.

Bouquets: harvest when petals first open. Deadhead for blooms all season.

Transplant: Shallowly sow 4 weeks before transplanting after last frost at below spacing. Transplant your cosmos for earlier blooms and more full-size plants per pack; direct sow for blooms throughout the season and simplicity of sowing.

  • Sowing Date: After frost, late May to early June 
  • Seed Depth: 1/4 inch
  • Days to Germination: 7-10
  • Days to Maturity: 65-70
  • Plant spacing after thinning: 18-24 inches
  • Height: 3-4 feet

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.