With bare trees with no leaves in site and the ground covered with the possibility of snow. That doesn’t mean your garden should turn into wasteland come winter. Conifers and pines can be quite amazing during the winter months but they are so common. However, don’t limit your landscape only to these for winter interest. A well-planned garden should provide year-round aesthetic interest and entertainment.
Although there is a minimal number of colourful flowering plants that can withstand harsh winters, bright colors can still be obtained in the form of berry plants. Nothing can compare to the vibrant color of berries in winter. Even if some not edible, they do look tantalizing. Berry palates range from bright red, yellow, orange to pale blue and purple and white, so there is something for everyone. Additionally, there are many berries that will also attract a variety of birds to your garden. Fortunately, there are a plethora of berry hardy beauties to provide much-needed punctuation to a drab winter landscape. Consider planting some of the following:
The American Cranberry bush (Viburnum trilobum) is hardy to zone 3 and reaches heights of 10 to 12 feet tall. Although it has red fruits, some cultivars produce yellow fruits. In spring, this shrub grows in clusters of white flowers.
For an interesting contrast, plant Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum) whose berries are bluish-black in color and form clusters of black berries. They are popular with birds and have clusters of small white flowers in spring.
The Symphoricarpos albus (Symphoricarpos albus) is adorned with an interesting white berry. The plant is hardy to zone 3 and grows 3 to 5 feet tall. This little one grows well in shade and sun and tolerates almost all types of soil. Plant it in contrast with the purple-red berries of the Coralberry shrub (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus). Like Snowberry, this shrub loves both shade and sun and is very easy to grow. It is also known as the Indian black currant.
Consider planting Cranberry Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster apiculatus) if you are looking for an eye-catching ground cover. It is hardy to zone 4 and matures at a low elevation of 1 to 3 feet. This large groundcover explodes with red berries and also shows small pink flowers in spring too. Other low-growing cotonesters include Bearberry Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster dammeri) and Rockspray Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis).
Beautiful blue-gray berries adorn to the northern blueberry bush (Myrica pensylvanica). It is hardy to zone 3 and grows to a height of 4 to 10 feet. This shrub is extremely hardy and easy to grow in most conditions and requires partial sun. It is also tolerant of salt.
Do you want an attractant for all bird lovers? Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) grows 8 to 10 feet tall and is hardy to zone 3. The berries can be either yellow or red. Our feathered friends adore this wonderful addition to their winter garden. Birds love these berries, so there is a risk that they will eat them all before winter is over. However, if you like to have birds in your garden, this will do the trick.
A giant addition would be Winter King Hawthorne (Crataegus viridis) which grows 20 to 30 feet tall and is hardy to Zone 4. This tree sports bright red berries and features clusters of white flowers in the spring. Washington hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum) has properties similar to those of the winter king.
Who can forget American holly (Ilex opaca) which is hardy to zone 5 and has a mature height of 20 to 25 feet tall. This tree displays small white flowers in spring. This red berry tree also has many cultivars, such as “Xanthocarpa”, that flash golden yellow fruits.
However, if you want to end up with a big colossal berry bearing, the eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), with its vibrant powdered blue periwinkle berries, stands 40 to 50 feet tall. This tree is hardy to zone 3. Females parade these beautiful berries (in fact they are cones that look like berries) that are very popular with birds.
Let me warn you about the black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) with its beautiful dark purple berries. It may seem like a nice addition, but it is considered invasive in many areas and should be avoided. I will write am article on the chokeberry over the coming weeks!
This is not an exhaustive list; it is simply intended to get your creativity flowing. There are many other varieties of winter berries and fruit plants. The important thing to keep in mind is that winter does not have to be equated with a boring and uninspired garden. With just a little planning, your garden can turn into a vibrant and colorful winter wonderland that will provide a safe haven for wildlife!
If you have any recommendations for great berry plants to grow in your garden then please share below!