By Keri Byrum
Winter is one of my favorite seasons for gardening in the Gulf Coast. Cooler temperatures and lower humidity allow us to grow many flowers specific to this season. Here are five plants that handle a light frost and keep on flowering:
Snapdragons. Varieties range from 6 inches to 2 feet tall, so they can fit almost anywhere. These upright plants add a great vertical element and handle cold very well.
Violas. With a rainbow of color choices, these low-growing plants bloom all winter. Violas are best in full sun, but healthy plants bloom even in light shade. They complement other flowers and plants really well, so feel free to tuck them into open spaces around the garden or into containers.
Ornamental cabbages. Perhaps they aren’t flowers, but these cabbages sport unbeatable bright colors. The color intensity increases as temperatures drop, so you never have to worry about covering plants on a cold night. Look for different textures, from frilly to very rigid, to add additional interest.
Sweet alyssum. These 6-in-tall plants are perfect for the front of a flowerbed or in a container. The small but profuse flowers look great and have a sweet fragrance. This is one species I always like to plant in large groups: Planted singly they can fall over, but in masses they support each other and create a carpet of flowers.
Geraniums. This winter consider trying a geranium with beautiful leaves. Combined with traditional geraniums these stand out as a punch of color for the entire season. Geraniums are robust plants and need space to reach their full potential. I remind myself of this when spacing geraniums at planting time.
These five flowers keep your garden colorful all winter. Hardy to occasional frosts, these plants do not need protection from cold weather and can make winter one of your favorite seasons.