Evergreen Plants in Winter Gardens

Evergreen Plants in Winter Gardens

Last Updated on October 1, 2021 by Kimberly Crawford

Learn some guidelines for using evergreens in the garden to provide winter interest. Look at the types of evergreens available, and variety of uses for your landscape.

In the winter, evergreen plants move from the background elements we build the rest of our gardens around, to the primary players that are hugely important. A winter landscape without spots of green would be bleak indeed.

Casually dismissed at times, evergreens come in several categories which we will explore in more detail.

Juniperus virginiana

Be aware that even with evergreens, many plants change color during winter. Some plants turn sickly shades of brownish-green such as the eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) although not all individual plants will. Others, such as some azaleas and rhododendrons turn lovely reddish or yellow colors on leaves that last the season long.

Consider looking at evergreens from the following color categories:

  • Conifer Evergreen Shrubs
  • Broadleaf Green Foliage Shrubs
  • Variegated Foliage Shrubs
  • Colored Foliage Shrubs

Also, don’t forget that evergreen plants in the winter garden do not just come in the form of shrubs or trees. Many perennials will hold cover through the winter and are evergreen, or semi-evergreen.

Evergreen plants

Some of these plants include lavender, helleborus, many sedum varieties, coral bells (Heuchera spp.), yucca plants, some ornamental grasses and more.

creeping phlox - Evergreen ground cover

Evergreen ground covers include ajuga, creeping phlox, thyme, and creeping juniper. Vines that are generally evergreen include English ivy, winter jasmine and some honeysuckles. Check labels when considering a plant to see whether it is an evergreen or not.

Plan your evergreen designs as carefully as you plan your flower designs. Just as you want to consider what color flowers look good together, plan what foliage looks good together.

You will also need to think about proper balance in the garden when selecting your evergreens. Too many different variegated or brightly colored plants all together could make your garden appear busy and overwhelming, rather than exciting and inviting. Use boldly colored plants more as accents and carefully chosen focal points.

Use evergreens in the winter landscape to showcase and set off other focal point plants. For instance, planting a small stand of red-stemmed dogwoods in front of a row of cedars will allow the brilliant red stems to really stand out against the deep green of the conifers. Or use a few deep green hollies behind a golden-leaved (Ilex spp.) variety for a bright entrance area that will really stand out.

By learning to use evergreens in our garden properly we will have a winter landscape that provides us with plenty of color, interest and beauty all year. See all six ways to create winter interest with plants.

Evergreen Plants in Winter Gardens