Some plants not only look attractive when they are in flower in spring or summer, but have attractive seedheads, too. Left on the plant, they add interest in autumn and winter. Many are attractive to wildlife, too, providing much needed food and shelter in the colder months, and look great in dried flower arrangements.
The old growth can be chopped down in late winter or early spring, when new growth begins to emerge at the base.
Here are 10 of the best plants for seedheads.
Rudbeckias light up the garden in late summer and autumn, in shades of yellow and orange, before leaving distinctive black seedheads. Here, the spent flowers of Rudbeckia fulgida look beautiful against a backdrop of golden ornamental grasses.
Erygium (sea holly), such as Eryngium varifolium, pictured, bears distinctive, powder blue flowers. In autumn, it forms equally distinctive seedheads.
Sedums (Hylotelephium) are great for the front of the border and combine beautifully with other late summer and autumn plants such as asters, rudbeckias and ornamental grasses. Once the show is over, the flat forms of their seedheads comes to the fore.
It’s best to leave the seedheads on hydrangeas over winter, as they give protection to the delicate shoots forming below. Deadhead when the new growth starts in spring.
Teasels (Dipsacus fullonum) make a statuesque addition to the back of a border when in flower and are adored by bees. The conical seedheads are a favourite with birds in winter.
Love-in-a-mist, (Nigella damascena) has an airy, ethereal form when in flower in summer, and this quality is retained in winter. It’s a hardy annual that is easy to sow from seed.
Alliums are a key part of any border in spring, with their lollipop-like purple or white flower heads on tall, strong stems. Their seedheads are attractive, too, and look good in a vase. Alliums have a tendency to self-seed, so if you don’t want more plants, remove the spent flowers.
Heleniums, such as Helenium ‘Sahin’s Gold’ shown here, bring russet tones to late summer and autumn borders, and have distinctive black flowerheads afterwards.
All ornamental grasses look wonderful over winter, in shades of buff and brown. They bring light and movement and look especially good when covered in hoar frost. They look especially good grown in groups or drifts and combine well with late-flowering perennials. Cut back ornamental grasses in spring.
Globe thistle (Echinops)
Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’ seems to almost glow in the border, and is very popular with wildlife. The round flowerheads combine well with other flower forms, and lead to very distinctive seedheads.