How to Grow Winter Flowering Shrubs - Plant Care & Tips

By NorwichGardener Team   /   2024

Winter flowering shrubs is a great addition to any garden. They provide color and interest during the cold winter months when other plants are dormant. There are many different varieties of winter flowering shrubs, so you can find one to fit any garden style.

How to Grow Winter Flowering Shrubs - Plant Care & Tips

Also called

  • Daphne
  • Hellebore
  • Jasmine
  • Witch hazel
  • Winter jasmine

Common Knowledge

  • When choosing a winter flowering shrub, consider the plant's hardiness, as well as its flowering schedule.
  • Some winter flowering shrubs, like camellias and azaleas, can be quite finicky when it comes to temperature and light exposure.
  • If you live in an area with very harsh winters, it's important to choose a winter flowering shrub that can tolerate the cold.
  • Snow and ice can be damaging to winter flowering shrubs, so it's important to choose varieties that are resistant to these conditions.
  • Many winter flowering shrubs require regular pruning in order to keep their shape and size in check.
  • Some winter flowering shrubs, like hollies, produce berries that can provide food for wildlife during the winter months.
  • Many winter flowering shrubs are also excellent choices for foundation plantings or as border plants.
  • Be sure to give winter flowering shrubs plenty of space to grow, as some can become quite large.
  • Most winter flowering shrubs prefer moist, well-drained soils.
  • Some winter flowering shrubs, like witch hazels, are considered to be invasive in some areas.

Related plant:
Winter Shrubs

Planting Process

  1. For winter flowering shrubs, first step is to choose a location. Select a spot that gets plenty of sunlight during winter months.
  2. Prepare the soil by digging a hole that is twice the width and depth of the shrubÂ’s root ball.
  3. Place the shrub in the hole and backfill with soil, tamping it down gently as you go.
  4. Water the shrub deeply immediately after planting.
  5. Apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of the shrub, making sure to keep it several inches away from the trunk.
  6. Water the shrub regularly during the first growing season, keeping the soil moist but not soggy.
  7. Fertilize the shrub once per year in early spring with a balanced fertilizer.
  8. Prune the shrub as needed to control its shape and size.
  9. Protect the shrub from winter weather by covering it with a burlap cloth or other breathable material.
  10. Enjoy the winter flowers!

Related plant:
Midwinter Fire Dogwood

Soil Condition

About soil condition, flowering shrubs in winter should be well-drained because they are growing in cold weather and often frozen. If the soil is too heavy, the water will not evaporate and the roots will rot. It is also important to have good drainage so that the water does not stand on the roots and freeze.

Light requirement

Just like other plants, winter flowering shrubs need sunlight to grow. They use sunlight to produce food for themselves. The amount of sunlight a winter flowering shrub needs depends on the species. Some species need full sun, while others can tolerate partial shade. If you are not sure how much sun your winter flowering shrub needs, check the plant label or ask a nursery worker.

Good Temperature

The temperature conditions in winter can vary greatly from one region to another. In general, however, most winter-flowering shrubs need a period of chilling to flower properly the following spring. This means that they require temperatures of below 45 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of at least two months. Many winter-flowering shrubs come from regions with cold winters, such as Europe and Asia. Some of the more popular winter-flowering shrubs include the forsythia, quince, and witch hazel.

Ideal Humidity

Ideal humidity condition for this plant is 50% and above. The plant grows best in loamy, well-drained soil. If the humidity is too low, the plant will suffer from drought stress. If the humidity is too high, the plant will suffer from root rot.

Fertilizer Requirement

Regarding fertilizer, this kind of plant doesn't need too much. You can actually harm them by using too much. A light feeding in early spring is all they really need. As for the roots, they need to be kept moist but not soggy. You can improve drainage by mixing some organic matter into the soil.

Light requirement

Pruning is an important part of keeping winter flowering shrubs healthy and looking their best. The following tips will help you get the most out of your pruning: 1. When to prune: Fall is the best time to prune most winter flowering shrubs. This gives the plants time to heal and produce new growth before the cold weather hits. 2. How to prune: Start by removing any dead, diseased, or damaged wood. Next, cut back any leggy or overgrown branches. Finally, shape the shrub by pruning away any straggly or misshapen growth. 3. What to prune with: A sharp pair of pruning shears is all you need to get the job done. 4. After you prune: Apply a thin layer of mulch around the base of the shrub to help protect it from the cold weather.

Plant Propagation

Propagation of winter-flowering shrubs is best done in late summer or early fall. Hardwood cuttings taken from the desired plant are the best way to propagate these shrubs. The cuttings should be taken from new growth that is about 6 to 8 inches long. The cuttings should be cut at a 45-degree angle just below a node. The nodes are the bumps on the stem where the leaves are attached. The bottom 2 inches of the cutting should be removed and the remaining 4 to 6 inches should be placed in a rooting medium. The rooting medium can be a mixture of sand and peat moss or Perlite. The rooting medium should be moistened before the cutting is placed in it. The cutting should be placed in a plastic bag to hold in moisture and then placed in a bright, indirect light. The cutting should be checked periodically to make sure the rooting medium is still moist. Once the cutting has rooted, it can be transplanted into a pot or into the ground.

Growth Rate

Usually, the plant growth rate is relatively slow. However, there are a few exceptions such as the Japanese quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) and the winter sweet (Chimonanthus praecox) which both have a fast growth rate.

The Problems

Common problems for this kind of plant are dieback, leaf scorch, and bud blast. Dieback is caused by the plant not being able to produce enough food to support the growth of new leaves and buds. This can be due to a number of factors, including drought, excessive heat, or a nutrient deficiency. Leaf scorch is caused by the leaves being damaged by the cold weather. This can cause the leaves to turn brown and fall off. Bud blast is caused by the buds not opening properly in the cold weather. This can cause the flowers to be small and misshapen.

Basics of Growing

  • Make sure to choose a winter-flowering shrub that is suited to your USDA hardiness zone.
  • Before planting, amend the soil with organic matter to improve drainage.
  • Choose a location in full sun for best results.
  • Space plants according to their mature width to prevent them from crowding each other out.
  • Plant winter-flowering shrubs at the same depth they were growing in their containers.
  • Water the plants thoroughly after planting and keep the soil moist but not soggy.
  • Fertilize the plants once a month with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.
  • Prune winter-flowering shrubs after they bloom to encourage new growth and blooms.
  • Protect the plants from wind damage by staking them or planting them in a sheltered location.
  • Be sure to water the plants regularly during the winter months to prevent them from drying

Alternative Plants

  • Winter flowering cherries
  • Winter flowering camellias
  • Winter flowering heathers
  • Winter flowering pansies
  • Winter flowering cyclamen
  • Winter flowering jasmine
  • Winter flowering hellebores
  • Winter flowering witch hazel
  • Winter flowering clematis
  • Winter flowering roses

Source:
Winter Flowering Shrubs - Washington State University
Winter Blooming Shrubs - arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu
Tips for preparing landscape trees and shrubs for winter

Richelle Author Photo
Reviewed & Published by Richelle
Submitted by our contributor
Shrubs Category