• Best winter flowering plants for the Sierra foothills

    by  • January 6, 2012 • Garden, Winter

    Snapdragons in January
    Snapdragons in January

    It may seem past the point where you would want to do any planting here in the Mountain Community around Oakhurst. But there is hope for a little color especially in pots close to the house and sheltered flower beds under the eaves.

     

    Even some bedding perennials can bloom right now and not just because we’re having an Indian summer this January.

    Annuals for pots and sheltered beds 

    Tiny violas at the base of a camellia reseeded here

    Tiny violas at the base of a camellia reseeded here

    Pansies and Violas– These hardy flowers are cheery and perfect for pots. They are fine with cold and rain and even snow.  They’ll pop back up just fine when the sun comes up. I collect the seeds and sprinkle them in other pots because I know they sprout easily. Violas and pansies are relatively deer resistant.

    Stock– Stock is a relatively plain and ordinary flower, but oh, that fragrance.  Plant these near where you walk. I was surprised and delighted that a sprig or two in a vase on the desk had such a nice scent.

    Calendulas– Calendulas are available in more colors and varieties you ill find and often if you deadhead them will come up year after year.  They look best when planted close together.

    Primroses in January wait through winter to bloom

    Primroses in January wait through winter to bloom

    Primulas or Primrose– native to the Himalayas, these are hardy bedding plants suitable for mass planting by the front door or in a woodland setting where the soil is friable. The flowers are circular, and usually solid colors of yellow, white, or pink.

    Snapdragons in January

    Snapdragons in January

    Snapdragon  Also relatively deer resistant, are the snapdragons coming in many heights and color combinations. After the first bloom, keep deadheading and these will continue to grow, ready to bloom again as early as possible in Spring.  Be sure to show a child how the dragon mouth works!

    Winterblooming Bergenia blooming in February

    Winterblooming Bergenia blooming in February

    Perennials

    Winterblooming Bergenia  With flat, fleshy leaves as big as your hand, the low growing Bergenia, turns reddish in the Fall, then blooms with vibrant pink flowers on short stalks in January or February.  This useful plant is not fussy in any season and deer don’t touch it. So surprising it is to find the bright blooms amongst the low banks of snow.

    Bergenia mixed with Yellow sedum, Iris and Heuchera

    Bergenia mixed with Yellow sedum, Iris and Heuchera in January

     

    Bergenia bed  blooming in February

    Bergenia bed blooming in February

    Hellebores   Called “winter’s most captivating plants” by expert Graham Rice, these woodland perennials used to be left to the plant collectors. Now you can find them in local nurseries and new hybrids are easier to grow.  Hellebores have rose like blossoms and bloom early in the year hence the name Lenten Rose. Some bloom at Christmas, even breaking through frozen ground to do so.

    Copper Canyon daisy in November snow

    Copper Canyon daisy in November snow

    Copper Canyon daisy   This Mexican marigold, Tagetes lemmonii, is a large, hardy and late blooming flowering bush for the foothills.  Ideal because deer don’t touch it, CopperCanyon daisies don’t mind our cold winters. Bright yellow-gold blooms on tall stems are strongly fragrant.  You may not want to bring any indoors although they do make a long lasting cut flower,…a luxury in late Fall and Winter. They are available from Intermountain Nursery in Prather.

    Copper Canyon daisy in January

    Copper Canyon daisy in January

    About

    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.