Native Perennials for Winter Interest

A cheerful colleague who is an extremely knowledgeable gardener and pruner recently pondered native perennials with color that might be evergreen.  In the depths of winter, if you are like the two of us, you look for any signs of spring …an early rising bulb, a bud emerging on a branch, anything at all!

tn06jg8RQqGtm4FSdyTSiAWhich got us to thinking, there are native perennials that reliably hold their color through mid-Atlantic winters.  The one most frequently described as evergreen is Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides). Christmas fern fronds certainly stay green, though they mostly lie flat on the ground.

Another is the perennial I aways describe as a workhorse because it is just so easy — ‘Autumn Bride’ heuchera (Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’) For mid-February, not bad!

heuchera autumn bride winter

Speaking of heucheras, a number do quite well in winter. Here are several holding their color through snow, cold and wind.

Another perennial that is really great through winter is Silver sedge (Carex platyphylla).


These are planted in the 6″ between a sidewalk and fence … pretty tough spot yet they retain their blue color.

One of the promises behind nutsfornatives is to write only about plants I have direct experience with.  So, a caveat with this next one, native pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens). I first planted plugs of native pachysandra this past fall so have barely 6 months experience with it.


Noting, though, that while we have had several snows and extreme cold snaps, the native pachysandra is looking like it might be evergreen in our area.  The photo above was taken mid-February.

Do you want to increase winter color in your garden, and use more natives? You might want to try a couple of these!

For more information:

About Christmas Fern, check out this information from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

About “Autumn Bride” Heuchera, check out this info from North Creek Nursery.

A comprehensive list of native sedges; check out the sedges included in the North Creek Nursery Plant List.

About our native Pachysandra, check out this recent post.




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Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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