Colorful Winter Trees: Taking Advantage Of Winter Conifer Color

Conifer Trees In The Snow
colorful conifers
(Image credit: Perytskyy)

If you are thinking that conifers are “plain-Jane” green all year long, think again. Trees with needles and cones generally are evergreen and do not lose their foliage in autumn. However, that doesn’t mean they’re boring. They can be extremely colorful, especially in winter.

If you are looking for colorful winter trees, conifers make the list. Planting colorful conifers for winter gives you year-round wind protection as well as subtle charm. Read on for some colorful cold-weather conifers to consider adding to your landscape.

Bright Winter Conifers

You count on deciduous trees to liven up the summer garden. They offer lush leaves, flowers, and fruits that add interest and drama to the backyard. Then, in autumn, you can look forward to fiery fall displays as leaves blaze and drop.

The winter landscape can be bleak, though, if most of your backyard trees are deciduous. The leaves have fallen and the plants, although dormant, could pass for dead. Plus, all your roses and cheery flowers are gone from the beds.

That’s when conifers come into the spotlight, offering texture, color, and pow. Winter conifer colors can light up your backyard if you plant the right trees.

Colorful Conifers for Winter

A few conifers lose their needles in winter, like the dawn redwood and bald cypress. These are the exception rather than the rule. Most conifers are evergreen, which automatically means that they can add life and texture to a winter landscape. Green isn’t just one shade, it’s a wide range of colors from lime to forest to emerald shades. A mixture of green hues can look stunning in the garden.

Not all conifers are green either.

  • Some are yellow or gold, like Gold Coast juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Gold Coast') and Sawara false cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Filifera Aurea').
  • Some are blue-green or solidly blue, like Fat Albert Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens glauca 'Fat Albert'), Carolina Sapphire cypress (Cupressus arizonica 'Carolina Sapphire'), and China fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata 'Glauca').

A mix of green, gold, and blue needles will liven up any backyard in winter. 

More than a few conifers change colors with the seasons, and these make especially colorful winter trees.

  • Some junipers, such as Ice Blue juniper, are blue-green in summer but take on a purple cast in winter.
  • A few pines meet winter’s cold by getting gold or plum-colored highlights. Take a look at Carsten’s Wintergold mugo pine, for example.
  • Then there’s Ember Waves arborvitae, a golden needle tree that develops glowing orange or russet branch tips as winter deepens.
  • The jazzy jewel Andorra juniper boasts brilliant green and gold variegated needles in summer that take on bronze and purple hues in winter.

In short, if you are tired of your monotone winter landscape, it’s time to bring in some colorful conifers for winter. Bright winter conifers create a display that takes your backyard through the coldest months in high style.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.