Pink blossom of flowering quince

Alan’s favourite plants for winter colour

Take a look at Alan Titchmarsh's favourite winter showstoppers.

Don’t let your garden peter out in winter – give it a boost with some of these vibrant seasonal stars.

It’s easy to see this time of year as an off season, but there are lots of plants that come into their own in winter. It’s not just flowers, either – you can also grow plants with attractive seedheads, berries and evergreen colour, such as Hylotelephium spectabile, pyracanthas and hollies.

Don’t let your garden peter out in winter – give it a boost with some of these vibrant seasonal stars.

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It’s easy to see this time of year as an off season, but there are lots of plants that come into their own in winter. It’s not just flowers, either – you can also grow plants with attractive seedheads, berries and evergreen colour, such as Hylotelephium spectabile, pyracanthas and hollies.

As for pots and containers, check out our pick of the best plants for winter containers.

Keep on reading to discover Alan Titchmarsh’s top plants for winter colour.

With their delightfully dainty, nodding flowers, snowdrops (galanthus) light up a shady bed.

Heathers

The willingness of winter-flowering heathers (Erica carnea) to bloom in the darker months is impressive. Grow in a large sink or trough if you can’t fit them into your borders.

Flowers Jan-May

Height x spread 15-30cm x 20-45cm

Heather 'Springwood Pink'
Heather ‘Springwood Pink’

Winter jasmine

Frequently grown in gardens, Jasminum nudiflorum certainly earns its keep. The bare, arching stems of this wall scrambler are studded with starry bright yellow flowers to lift the spirits on the coldest days.

Flowers Jan-Mar

H x S 3m x 3m

Yellow, starry flowers of winter jasmine
Yellow, starry flowers of winter jasmine

Snowdrops

With their delightfully dainty, nodding flowers, snowdrops (galanthus) light up a shady bed. You can also naturalise them in grass, where the colony will grow year on year if you leave the foliage intact for a few weeks after flowering.

Flowers Jan-Mar

H x S 10-20cm x 5cm

A clump of snowdrops
A clump of snowdrops

Dogwoods

Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ is just about the brightest of the coloured-stemmed dogwoods. Its year-old shoots are a stunning blend of amber and pink. Prune dogwoods in early spring to encourage more new stems.

Stem colour Nov-Mar

H x S 1.5m x 1.5m

Bright pink and amber stems of dogwood 'Midwinter Fire'
Bright pink and amber stems of dogwood ‘Midwinter Fire’

Cyclamen

From vivid magenta through the pinks to pure white, the flowers of Cyclamen coum are so untypical of winter that they can’t fail to delight. Tough as old boots, thriving in dappled shade below trees and shrubs.

Flowers Dec-Mar

H x S 10cm x 10cm

Vivid pink cyclamen flowers
Vivid pink cyclamen flowers

Sweet box

The white, whiskery flowers of evergreen Sarcococca confusa might not be spectacular, but their fragrance will quite literally stop you in your tracks. Cut a few sprigs to bring inside and enjoy close up.

Flowers Dec-Mar

H x S 2m x 1m

Delicate white blooms hanging beneath sweet box stems
Delicate white blooms hanging beneath sweet box stems

Corkscrew hazel

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ is an entertaining shrub to have in winter, when its crazily twisted bare stems are adorned with dangling, bright sulphur-yellow catkins. Children love it, and that’s one of its greatest attributes.

Flowers Feb-Mar

H x S 3m x 3m

Yellow catkins of corkscrew hazel
Yellow catkins of corkscrew hazel

Ornamental quince

With its white, pink or rich red blossom, chaenomeles lights up a wall or fence in winter. Tie in the branches of this shrub to give as much coverage as you need, and use it as a green background for summer blooms.

Flowers Feb-May

H x S 1-2m x 1-5m

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Pink blossom of flowering quince
Pink blossom of flowering quince
Winter pruning
Winter pruning

Plants to prune in winter

Don’t let your garden peter out in winter – give it a boost with some of these vibrant seasonal stars.

It’s easy to see this time of year as an off season, but there are lots of plants that come into their own in winter. It’s not just flowers, either – you can also grow plants with attractive seedheads, berries and evergreen colour, such as Hylotelephium spectabile, pyracanthas and hollies.

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