A winter garden is a lovely sight. Instead of a drab, barren landscape, you can have beautiful and interesting plants that strut their stuff all winter long. That’s especially possible in zone 8, where the average minimum temperatures are between 10 and 20 degrees F. (-7 to -12 C.). This article will give you plenty of ideas for your zone 8 ornamental winter garden.
Zone 8 Ornamentals for Winter
If you’re interested in planting ornamentals for their flower or fruit appeal, then the following plants should work well: Witch hazels (Hamamelis species and cultivars) and their relatives are some of the best ornamental plants for zone 8 winters. These large shrubs or small trees bloom at varying times in the fall, winter, and early spring. The spicy-smelling flowers with elongated yellow or orange petals stay on the tree for up to a month. All Hamamelis varieties require some chilling during winter. In zone 8, choose a variety with a low chilling requirement. A colorful alternative is the related Chinese fringe flower, Loropetalum chinense, which comes in pink and white-blooming versions with winter leaf colors from green to burgundy. Paperbush, Edgeworthia chrysantha, is a 3 to 8 foot (1-2 m.) tall, deciduous shrub. It produces clusters of fragrant white and yellow flowers right at the ends of attractive brown twigs. It blooms from December through April (in the U.S.). Winterberry or deciduous holly (Ilex verticillata) sheds its leaves in winter, putting its red berries on display. This shrub is native to the eastern United States and Canada. For a different color, try inkberry holly (Ilex glabra), another North American native with black berries. Alternatively, plant firethorn (Pyracantha cultivars), a large shrub in the rose family, to enjoy its abundant orange, red, or yellow berries in winter and its white flowers in summer. Lenten roses and Christmas roses (Helleborus species) are low-to-the-ground ornamental plants whose flower stalks push up through the ground in winter or early spring. Many cultivars do well in zone 8, and they come in a wide variety of flower colors. Once you’ve chosen your flowering zone 8 ornamentals for winter, complement them with some ornamental grasses or grass-like plants. Feather reed grass, Calamagrostis x acutifolia, is available in several ornamental varieties for zone 8. Plant this tall ornamental grass in clumps to enjoy its showy flowerheads from summer through fall. In winter, it sways gently in the wind. Hystrix patula, bottlebrush grass, displays its unusual, bottlebrush-shaped seed heads at the ends of 1 to 4 foot (31 cm. to 1 m.) tall stems. This plant is native to North America. Sweet flag, Acorus calamus, is a great plant for the waterlogged soils found in some zone 8 areas. The long, blade-like leaves are available in green or variegated forms. Growing ornamental winter plants in zone 8 is a great way to liven up the cold season. Hopefully, we’ve given you some ideas to get started!
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Ilana Goldowitz Jimenez is a scientific and agricultural writer with a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Cornell University and a PhD in Chemical Biology and Infectious Disease from Harvard University.