Chase away those winter garden blahs with some color

by Wendy Priesand, Master Gardener

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Ready to add some instant color to your winter landscape? Consider brightening your yard with winter annuals.

Whether looking for bedding plants or adding to your container gardens, there are many wonderful cool-season plants readily available at your favorite nursery.

Some excellent choices of plants grown as annuals (grow for just one season) for our area include pansy, snapdragon, petunia, hollyhock, annual or Drummond phlox, stock, statice and ornamental kale and cabbage.

Another hardy choice for our area is dianthus. Most types of dianthus are perennial though some varieties like parfait pinks or sweet William are biennial or annual. The dianthus in my garden has been happily growing and re-blooming for the last three years.

Winter color
White and purple petunias hanging in baskets and snapdragons and dianthus planted in bedding bring some winter color to the yard at the home of Nassau County Master Gardener Wendy Priesand.

 

All of these plants love our cool winters and can even withstand an occasional frost, though you will need to cover them if there's a threat of a deep freeze.

Once you've selected your favorite plants according to color, light and watering requirements, take a few minutes to prepare the soil properly.

Combine organic material like compost and a balanced slow-release fertilizer, and mix into soil to a depth of 2-3 inches.

Space plants according to instructions that came with plants, digging a hole a little wider and no deeper than the container that the plant was growing in.

Firm the soil around the plants' roots, and water lightly. Once the whole area is planted, add a thin layer of mulch, keeping the mulch away from the base of each plant.

Water again, and keep moist until the plants are established, about 1-2 weeks. Thereafter, water only when soil is very dry as plants need less water in the winter.

Enjoy your winter gardening, and don't forget your containers and hanging baskets around your patio. Your yard and your holiday spirits will thank you for the added color.

Master Gardener volunteers are trained by county horticultural extension agents and are required to serve 75 volunteer hours the first year and 35 volunteer hours annually in subsequent years to maintain their certification as Master Gardeners.

 

Beverly Stormoen

Master Gardener Wendy Priesand lives in Yulee and is an active Master Gardener volunteer with the Nassau County Extension Service and the University of Florida/IFAS.