Winter gardens can be full of colour, scent and interest, if you grow the right plants.


As well as the plants you choose, there are things you can do, over the growing season, to boost the winter performance of those plants, including feeding, pruning and watering.

If you have a greenhouse, don't forget to keep it insulated over winter – follow our tips on keeping the heat in your greenhouse. With the extra warmth, the plants inside will be better protected and you'll have somewhere to carry out winter greenhouse projects.

Keep reading to discover our tips for a great winter garden.


Remember to feed

Water and feed your plants that are going to provide winter interest during spring and summer. It can be easy to forget about them, but like most other plants they need ample supplies during the growing season to ensure they remain healthy and vigorous.

Sprinkling feeding granules beneath a skimmia bush

Clean your trees

Wash the bark of birch trees and others with ornamental stems to remove any green algae and dirt, so the tree trunks and lower branches gleam all winter. You can also winter wash trees to help control pests and diseases, like aphids.

Washing a birch trunk

Prune shrubs grown for stem colour

Annually prune dogwoods and willows grown as shrubs for their colourful winter stems. Older stems tend to lose their colour with age, so frequent renewal pruning will keep the plants looking vibrant.

Red winter stems of dogwood 'Sibirica' bushes

Feed pruned shrubs

Feed shrubs that are hard-pruned to produce coloured stems, to help fuel this vibrant new growth. In spring and summer, feed with blood, fish and bonemeal, and mulch with manure in spring.

Fiery orange and red stems of dogwood 'Winter Orange'

Choose your position

Position winter-interest plants where they can be clearly seen and enjoyed. Make sure this season's glory isn't hidden behind other plants, especially evergreens.

White-edged pink cyclamen blooms

Leave seedheads on

Leave the dried stems and seedheads on your border plants – they add architectural interest and are great for wildlife, too.

Phlomis seedheads
Dried phlomis seedheads, decorative in a garden border

Winter planting

You can plant in winter for instant interest. However, if the ground is too wet or frozen, use them in pot displays then plant them out in spring. Discover the best plants for winter containers.

A winter container display
A hedgehog emerging from a wooden crate shelter on a garden lawn

Ways to help wildlife in winter

  • Birds: Put out supplementary food everyday, including peanuts and fallen fruit and leave seeds on herbaceous plants and shrubs, and keep bird baths topped up.
  • Amphibians: Float a tennis ball or similar in ponds to stop them freezing over and create hibernacula or small piles of stones in a cool spot to provide shelter.
  • Insects: Create the nooks and crannies insects hibernate in by tying up bamboo and sunflower stems in a sunny spot and soak a clean sponge in a solution containing an equal mix of sugar and water.
  • Hedgehogs: Leave out cat and dog food for them. Check bonfires before lighting them – even better make them on the day they're to be lighted.