Colourful outdoor plants are a must for every garden at this time of year, and those which flower during the Winter months and around the festive season are particularly special. While we obviously can’t guarantee that they’ll be in bloom on the big day, we’ve put together our top plant suggestions (some of them most aptly named!) which will give you the best chance of enjoying fabulous flowers outdoors at Christmas time…
Hellebores – Christmas Rose
With its dark, leathery green foliage and radiant flowers, the Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) has wonderful snow-white flowers from November to March and is at home in beds, borders, pots and containers. The plants are fully hardy and although the beautiful flowers may look delicate and plants may droop a little when it freezes, they remain completely unaffected by snow and frost and soon perk up when the temperatures recover. Lenten roses (Helleborus orientalis) are also available, which offer gorgeous flower colours from yellow and apricot, to pink and dark purple.
- Christmas roses like a sheltered position and will thrive in a sunny spot – they can also tolerate partial shade and will produce fewer flowers in full shade
- they do not like to be moved once planted
- they prefer moisture retentive soil which doesn’t dry out
- plants use a lot of energy flowering during a cold period – extra plant food once a fortnight helps with the production of new buds during the flowering season
- remove old leaves and stems which have become unattractive at the start of March and you should be rewarded with a flush of new foliage.
Sarcococca – Christmas Box
Perfectly at home in beds, borders, pots and container, the Christmas box is a wonderful, Winter-flowering dense. evergreen shrub with lustrous, dark green leaves and sweetly scented, pure white flowers from December to March – and it’s the flowers, or rather their scent, that really make this shrub spectacular. To enjoy the fragrance of other Winter-flowering shrubs such as with hazel and Winter-flowering honeysuckle, you need to get extremely close to the blooms to detect the scent – not so with the Christmas box flowers, which is so generous with its beautiful, sweet, vanilla-like fragrance that it can, quite literally, stop you in your tracks.
- Sarcococca prefer shade, and will be happy in any situation from partial shade to deep,dry shade
- they are fully hardy, resistant to pollution and unfussy plants which can cope with almost any kind of soil
- as quite slow growers, they will never challenge your beds and borders for space
- try them in pots and containers with Winter-flowering heather for an unusual but effective Winter display
- they rarely need pruning, but if you do want to tidy them up, this should be done in Spring after flowering has finished.
We are most familiar with camellias flowering in Spring, but the wonderful camellia sasanqua varieties produce their beautiful, showy blooms during the Autumn and Winter months, which makes them invaluable at a time when colour in the garden is not easy to come by! Flower colours range from the pure white of ‘Narumigata’ through various shades of pink to the stunning red of the aptly named ‘Yuletide’ – and as well as producing gorgeous flowers, they’re evergreen, which means they’ll also look good all year round too.
- like all camellias, they are acid-lovers so if you don’t have acid soil, either plant them in pots of ericaceous compost or add this to the planting hole
- although hardy, they need protection from the early morning sun to prevent bud ‘burn’ and they don’t like cold, dry wind so are best grown in a sheltered spot
- camellia sasanqua ‘Winter’s Snowman’ produces either semi-double or anemone-form blooms – and sometimes both on the same plant!
- some varieties, such as ‘Plantation Pink’ and ‘Versicolour’ have strongly upright, open habits and so can easily be trained as wall shrubs
- keep them healthy and happy by applying a balanced liquid fertiliser in mid-Spring and again in June.
We have a great range of Winter-flowering plants available in-store – so add some wonderful colour to your garden this Christmas!