10 colourful winter shrubs to plant

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The winter garden can be surprisingly colourful - here's ten of the best shrubs for winter interest.

1 Camellia
Camellias are attractive all year round with healthy evergreen foliage. They’re excellent as hedges or background planting. Smaller growing varieties make great container plants.
The earliest to bloom are the sasanqua camellias, hardy and easy care with dense foliage and numerous single or semi-double flowers. The Paradise sasanquas are hard to beat for sheer volume of blooms. Later in winter the larger, more formal flowered camellias come into bloom and are valuable vase flowers when there is little else around. Likes well drained soil rich in compost. By planting a range of different camellias, you can have flowers in your garden from autumn till spring.
2 Coprosma
Glossy leafed coprosmas make a brilliant splash of low maintenance colour, with a wide range of compact shrubs to choose from. The likes of ‘Tequila Sunrise’, ‘Evening Glow’, ‘Pink Splendour’ ‘Fireburst’ and ‘Golden Glow’ are ever colourful but they turn richer, deeper shades in winter. Coprosmas are very quick growing and only need a light trim in spring to maintain shape. New growth is frost tender, so autumn pruning should be avoided. Likes sun and an annual trim.
3 Daphne
Daphne is adored for its fragrance. It will grow well in most climates provided it has well drained soil. Daphnes enjoy cool humus rich, lime free soil (like camellias). Yellow leaves usually mean poor drainage, but if yellow leaves persist in well-drained conditions your daphne may have an iron deficiency, which can be remedied with a dose of iron chelates. Part shade is ideal in a warm climate, but full shade will limit flowering.Likes part shade and well-drained soil.  Five-stars for fragrance!
4 Erica (heaths)
Ericas are famous for their showy winter flowers, which range from whites, pinks and purples through to hot oranges reds and yellows. There are varieties to suit most NZ climates, from the frost hardy European heaths to the South African forms, such as Erica cerinthoides ‘Can Can’. Th prerequisite for these colourful, low growing shrubs is free draining soil. Trim winter and spring flowering varieties immediately after flowering. Likes free-draining soil and sun.   Loves the cold.
5 Grevilleas
These Aussie natives are loved for their bright winter colours and fascinating flower forms. They also attract birds to the garden. Some grevilleas are large shrubs or wide spreading groundcovers. Others are very compact. Ideal in coastal gardens, most grevilleas are frost and drought tolerant once established. Likes free-draining soil and sun.   Bird magnet.
6 Hamamelis (witch hazel)
As tall deciduous shrubs, which flower best after a stiff winter chill, witch hazels aren’t for every garden, but where there is space, the spidery flowers on bare silver-grey branches are an arresting sight in winter and beautiful in a vase. A lovely perfume and colourful autumn leaves are extra benefits. Moist but well drained soil is best. Likes cold climates.
7 Leucadendron
Leucadendrons are colourful all year round, but particularly in winter. They are excellent for picking, lasting weeks in a vase. Tried and true ‘Inca Gold’ is a winter favourite in brilliant yellow with red edges and red stems. With trimming Inca Gold’ is easily kept to a tidy 1.5 x 1.5m. More compact varieties are ‘Julie’, ‘Harvest’, ‘Jack Harre’, ‘Mrs Stanley’ and ‘Bells Sunrise’. Leucadendrons need free draining soil. Most will tolerate frosts down to minus 5°C or more. Likes free-draining soil and sun.  Vase favourite.
8 Metrosideros Tahiti
Brilliant red pohutukawa flowers appear from late autumn through to spring, but flowers are not the only attraction of this excellent little evergreen. Its mounding dome shape always looks good, whether you plant just one or a whole row or bed of ‘Tahiti’. The foliage matures from silvery-olive green to grey, a stunning contrast to the flowers and their conspicuous rosy red buds. It looks great all year round and is a good choice for a pot. ‘Tahitian Sunset’ is a variegated form for those looking for an extra splash of colour. Likes frost-free conditions. Fantastic for coastal gardens!
9 Pseudowintera ‘Red Leopard’
This striking New Zealand shrub is colourful throughout the year with gold-green foliage heavily blotched with ruby red spots. It is cold hardy, wind tolerant and tough. Being compact and slow growing, it is ideal for containers or small garden spaces. Likes sun.

Sophora ‘Dragon’s Gold’
This excellent compact kowhai variety was discovered out in Cook Strait on Takapourewa (aka Stephens Island), a Tuatara sanctuary. ‘Dragon’s Gold’ rarely exceeds 1.5m tall, flowers when it’s only a year old and is the first kowhai to come into bloom in winter. Masses of golden-yellow flowers hang in clusters during winter and spring. Kowhai flowers are a favourite feast for tui and bellbirds. Likes sun for best flowering.


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Camellia Quintessence

Coprosma Tequila Sunrise

Daphne odora Alba

Erica Can Can

Grevillea Deua Gold

Witch Hazel

Leucadendron Inca Gold

Metrosideros Tahiti

Pseudowintera Red Leopard

Sophora Dragons Gold