Fall and Winter Color in the Landscape

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If you’re saddened by the lack of color in your garden this time of year don’t fret! There are several plant species to choose from that will ensure color in your landscape through the long, cold months of winter. Pansies and violas are always a staple in the garden this time of year. Many folks seem to get burned out with planting pansies year after year. However, there are interesting new cultivars being released each year that exhibit different color arrangements. Be sure to check your local garden center for the latest releases. Also, continually deadhead your pansies to maintain their vigor throughout the winter and early spring. Deadheading is the removal of spent blooms. Snapdragons can be another great ornamental this time of year. Not quite as cold hardy as pansies, these will continue putting on a show until a severe cold snap and will bounce back during a winter thaw and as spring approaches. Snapdragons are cold hardy to Zone 7b and all of Franklin County is within Zone 7b.

If you’re not looking for showy flower color then there are two great types of Artemisia sp. that will be a great addition for your garden. Artemisia stelleriana sometimes called wormwood or dusty miller grows less than a foot tall and has silver-gray foliage. It produces yellow, button-like flowers in spring. The other is Artemisia X ‘Powis Castle’ which obtains a height of three feet and a width of six feet. The leaves are extremely dissected and have a pungent smell when rubbed. ‘Powis Castle’ benefits from light pruning in the spring to keep it a compact mound.

Whatever you happen to be planting you want to makes sure that your garden bed is prepared for these cold-weather beauties. Be sure to mix compost into the top six to eight inches of soil and also provide your winter garden with a slow-release fertilizer such as Osmocote or a similar brand which releases nutrients over an extended period of time; and don’t forget the mulch! Also, remember that plants need adequate moisture during the winter months too so keep that watering can handy.

For more information on horticulture and other topics please contact N.C. Cooperative Extension, Franklin County Center at 919-496-3344 or Colby Griffin, Commercial and Consumer Horticulture Extension Agent, at colby_griffin@ncsu.edu.