Winter Color for Your Garden

By Sandra Gray, Fort Bend County Master Gardener

Compared to other seasons, winter can be a tough time for color in our gardens. In our part of Texas, your garden might be a bit dreary if you don’t make a special effort to add color. However, it’s possible if you are flexible about what constitutes color. Here are some suggestions to perk up your winter garden. [Note: all plants in this article are Texas Superstar plants because they are hardy, do well in most parts of Texas, and are available at many local nurseries.]

Add some evergreens. Green is a great alternative to brown and gray in your garden. Thryallis (Galphimia glauca), a 4-6’ shrub, is evergreen in zones 9 and higher. It’s a reliable bloomer with yellow blossoms often 10 months of the year. ‘Tangerine Beauty’ Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), a vine that can grow to 15’, attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Its orange blooms occur throughout the growing season. Another vine for your fences and arbors is Butterfly Vine (Callaeum macropterum). It is not called Butterfly Vine because it attracts butterflies. In early winter, the yellow blooms from fall become salmon-colored pods that resemble butterflies and add color throughout early winter. Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) is a soft-tipped succulent with red flowers that attracts pollinators.

Add trees with colorful foliage or winter berries. Shantung Maple (Acer truncatum) is a great shade tree for smaller yards. In the fall, its foliage turns red and red-orange, which can brighten up your landscape in early winter. Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) is a larger shade tree that sports yellow and bronze foliage in the fall and early winter. Deciduous Holly (Ilex decidua), a small deciduous tree, has female trees that attract songbirds with bright red berries throughout winter – or until the birds eat them all.

Finally, add certain roses and winter annuals. It is not uncommon to see Knock Out Roses blooming in winter. Petunias, such as Tidal Wave™ Petunias, and other cool-season annuals can fill in until your spring blossoms return. Learn more about Texas Superstars at