Plan Ahead for a Colorful Winter Garden

Evergreen plants and a few colorful winter performers are all your landscape needs to cast a colorful glow in the colder months. See our list of recommendations.

Missing warm color in the garden this winter? Don’t let the brown bring you down. When planning a garden, it’s important to consider seasonal interest. Be conscious of your plant selections and make decisions based not only on spring and summer color, but also on fall and winter color.

If your yard is already planted, you may be wondering what can be done to liven it up. I personally like using evergreen plants along with colorful winter performers.

Vibrant Fruit

Try using small trees and shrubs that bear winter fruit:
prairie flame-leaf sumac (Rhus lanceolata)
fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica)
evergreen sumac (Rhus virens)
Barbados cherry (Malpighia glabra)
chile petin (Capsicum annuum)
possumhaw (Ilex decidua)
yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria)
Winter birds love the fruits of these small trees and shrubs and their presence will bring a dynamic and beautiful element to the garden.

Stalwart Evergreens

Some of my favorite evergreen species are:
cenizo (Leucophyllum spp.)
mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora)
damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)
agarita (Berberis trifoliolata)
Yucca species
Be sure to research the plants you want to bring into your yard before you go to the nursery to make sure they’ll work for your landscape. Things to consider are light and moisture requirements, location, etc.

Colorful grasses

You may want to add a mass of native grass. An excellent choice is little bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium). This grass has green to silver-blue leaf blades during the growing season and warms up in the fall and winter to a beautiful rusty, copper color. The inflorescence plays nicely in sunlight and it’s a larval host plant for several of the skipper butterflies. Before European settlement, little bluestem and other large native bunch grasses dominated much of Texas and provided forage for the American bison. Plant it in the garden, as it was most likely there before your home or lawn was.

Whether you came from a place where the winter color was evergreen, dreary, or white and black, the winter colors in San Antonio can be green, red, purple, and yes, maybe a touch of brown.

Picture of Sarah Galvan
Sarah Galvan
Sarah Galvan has been passionate about gardening since she was a child. She’s an arborist, herbalist, Texas master naturalist, a former SAWS conservation consultant and holds native landscape certification. Galvan worked as a native landscape designer where she focused on supporting native bird and pollinator populations. When she’s not answering gardening questions or working on her biology degree, Galvan enjoys hiking, kayaking, bird and butterfly watching, and competing in plant identification competitions.
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