While summer is the perfect time for beautiful exotic annuals to brighten up our Houston gardens, there are so many vibrant flowers and plants we can enjoy through winter as well. Summer plants seem to get all the hype and attention, but winter plants are arguably just as spectacular— they’re just more chill and low-key about it. Think of it this way: summer flowers are like the Beyoncé of the plant world, and winter flowers are the Solange! If you’re unsure of what flowers to plant in the fall in Texas, these gorgeous plants are perfect for adding a little color and liveliness to the landscape all through winter.
8 Beautiful Houston Winter Plants
Gardening season is far from over—it’s just hitting its second wind! Dig up all those spent annuals left behind from summer so you can fill those spaces with these sensational Houston winter plants.
Snapdragons: Judging by their vibrant display of colors and exotic appearance, you’d think these flashy flowers were made for the tropical sun, but they’re actually much better suited to our mild winter temperatures. There are many different color variations of the snapdragon, whose distinctive dragon-shaped flowers grow in clustered racemes. We particularly love the bicolored varieties like “Bi-Colored Orange,” which sports an utterly fabulous orange and yellow ombré petal display.
Pansies: There’s something so undeniably adorable about these winter-tolerant flowers, available in an endless variety of colors, from rich jewel tones to sunny citrus shades. They don’t grow too tall, so they make great additions to your window boxes and container displays. If their eye-catching colors aren’t reason enough to love them, they’re also edible! So long as you don’t spray them with chemicals, you can safely snip off these cute little flower heads and press them into cookies and cakes, or even toss them into salads.
OrnamentalCabbage: It might sound strange, but honestly, ornamental cabbages are like, seriously beautiful. These winter cruciferous vegetables have layers upon layers of blue-green and purple frilled leaves that swirl around, kind of like a giant rose. They never look out of place in container arrangements or nestled among the flowers in the garden. Make sure you water them thoroughly and consistently to prevent the heads from splitting.
Cyclamen: One of the most dazzling winter annuals, cyclamen are showy flowers with a similar color range to orchids (white, magenta, lavender, and red) and attractive silver-marked foliage. These beauties favor the shade, which is great news if you have some shadier spots to brighten up. Another winter-friendly feature of cyclamen is they don’t mind a little “cuddle”—pack them close together for the highest-impact display.
Camellias: We absolutely love these evergreen shrubs, because their blooming season can last as long as half the year, and there are so many exciting varieties to choose from. Some have flowers that are so satisfyingly spiraled and perfect, others have more of a ruffly carnation look about them, and others have a cup shape similar to the anemone. So long as you plant camellias in partial shade and well-draining, slightly acidic soil, they are relatively fuss-free winter plants.
Calendula: If you directly sow your calendula seeds in fall, they should sprout up in winter, showing off their sunny orange and yellow blossoms. There’s a lot to love about this winter flower: they repel garden pests, attract pollinators, and can even protect the soil with its dense network of roots, acting as a living mulch to prevent weed growth and regulate soil temperature. Plus, it’s edible and has incredible medicinal properties, so it’s often mixed into healing salves, teas, and essential oils to help fight off fungal infections, heal bruises, and soothe irritated skin.
Alyssum: Alyssum is an ideal groundcover for Houston winter gardens. The plant spreads quickly, covering the area in delicate pale flowers that smell divine. Alyssum thrives in cooler temperatures, and will happily fill up containers or borders in the sun or partial shade. Keep in mind that alyssum has a real appetite (but who doesn’t at this time of year?). Especially when kept in containers, it needs frequent fertilizer and evenly moist soil.
Dianthus: These ever-popular winter flowers are also called “Pinks,” not because of their color (though most varieties are, in fact, pink) but rather because their zigzag-edged petals look like they’ve been trimmed with pinking shears. They have an intoxicating scent similar to cloves and cinnamon, so don’t be surprised if you suddenly start craving chai lattes after adding dianthus into the garden. Most types of dianthus don’t exceed eight inches tall, so they make a fantastic border plant along the edge of your garden beds. Use a trowel to loosen up the soil before planting them, because packed, water-logged soil will cause them to wilt.
We’re so lucky to have a never-ending gardening season here in Houston, so you may as well make the most of it by keeping the blossoms coming all year round! Visit Plants for All Seasons to see all these and more winter-tolerant plants and flowers to add to your landscape this season.