Part of creating a great garden is making sure there’s interest and eye-catching features no matter the season. Many homeowners make the mistake of planting only for spring or summer blooms, only to be left with a barren scene come fall and winter. While a focus on foliage is an excellent strategy for building a beautiful winter garden, customers may be surprised to learn they also have winter-flowering plant options.
Flowering shrubs are the “it plant” when it comes to gardening trends. Homeowners don’t just want their shrubs to act as a green backdrop anymore, but rather a dynamic part of their garden. They’re also looking to attract wildlife, birds and pollinators. When helping customers to choose the right shrubs, be sure to suggest varieties that bloom and fruit at different times of year.
One such showy winter-blooming option is Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’, also called emu bush or valentine bush. This compact shrub is perfect for smaller urban gardens or the front of larger borders. Growing to only 4’ tall and wide, it also makes a great container specimen. Plants are also evergreen and the small oval silvery-green leaves turn a red hue in winter. Masses of red or hot pink tubular flowers emerge in winter through early spring and are irresistible to hummingbirds. Once established emu bush is a heat hardy, drought tolerant shrub.
Another winter bloomer is the ‘Ruby Glow’ Tea Tree, Leptospermum scoparium.
Known for their use as medicinal plants, tea tree makes a beautiful evergreen specimen in the landscape. The deep green needle-like foliage contrasts perfectly with the large double red waxy flowers of ‘Ruby Glow’. ‘Ruby Glow’ is a tried and true variety and is a favorite of many California gardeners. Plants can bloom at different times through the year, with most blooms occurring in fall to spring.
Offering winter-blooming shrubs is a great way to attract customers back to the garden center during the slower season.