Make Your Yard a Winter Wonderland

Winter is upon us, and the world outside our windows has become a lot more grey and dreary. When we approach a new design, it is not at all unusual for the client to request that we include plants that will look interesting all year round. For most, their mind will automatically turn to evergreens, but there are so many more plants that can light up the winter landscape in other ways. Additionally, many popular evergreens are actually not all that well suited to our soil conditions here in central Indiana, which leaves them susceptible to other disease and insect problems.

Here I'll list some of my favorite plants for winter that thrive in this region. In addition to the ever-popular evergreens, we'll also talk about trees and shrubs with unique twigs and bark, perennials with interesting seed heads and stems, and plants that bring berries and even blooms through the winter months. Several of these are native plants for Indiana, so I have marked them with an asterisk for easy identification. In cases where it lists a genus and then says "species and hybrids" you'll need to look up the specific plant in question to see if that one is native.


  • Ajuga (Ajuga reptans)

  • Arborvitae (Thuja species and hybrids)

  • Boxwood (Buxus species and hybrids)

  • Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)*

  • Coral Bells (Heuchera species and hybrids)*

  • False Cypress (Chamaecyparis species and hybrids)

  • Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)*

  • Inkberry (Ilex glabra)

  • Juniper (Juniperus species and hybrids)

  • Lenten Rose (Helleborus species and hybrids)

  • Pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens* and terminalis)

  • Serbian Spruce (Picea omorika)

Unique Twigs and Bark

  • Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia)

  • Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

  • Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)*

  • Japanese Kerria (Kerria japonica)

  • Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum)

  • Redtwig Dogwood (Cornus sericea)*

  • River Birch (Betula nigra)*

  • Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)*

  • Tortured Willow (Salix matsudana)

  • Trident Maple (Acer buergerianum)

Interesting Seed Heads or Stems

  • Astilbe (Astilbe species and hybrids)

  • Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)*

  • False Indigo (Baptisia species and hybrids)*

  • Karl Foerster Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster')

  • Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)*

  • Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)*

  • Panicle Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)

  • Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

  • Showy Autumn Stonecrop (Hylotelephium spectbile)

  • Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)*

  • Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)*

Winter Blooms and Berries


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