Thursday, 16 January 2020

The best plants for seed heads in winter

Most people grow certain plants because they have nice flowers or pretty leaves, but not many people choose plants for their seed heads in autumn and winter, or even think about if a plant has winter presence before they buy or sow it. Luckily, many of the plants with nice seed heads also have nice flowers so you get two for one. To be able to appreciate the seed heads it is also important not to cut the plants down after flowering but leave them until late winter to provide structure and interest in the winter garden. Birds, especially goldfinches, love to land on the seed heads in winter to eat the seeds, they often even prefer these seeds to my bird feeders. Insects use seed heads to shelter from cold weather. And frosted seed heads on a cold winter morning are a sight to behold.

Without all the seed heads my allotment would be very boring in autumn and winter

If you are unsure of what plants to grow in your garden for winter interest below is a selection of plants with nice seed heads.


Echinacea purpurea with Allium sphaerocephalon and grasses
Echinacea purpurea has very long-lasting seed heads which are good for birds
One of the best plants for seed heads is Phlomis russeliana
The pretty seed heads of Veronicastrum virginicum
Great for goldfinches: Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum), a biennial plant
Eryngium giganteum is a biennial plant which normally self seeds
Eryngium planum looks great on a frosty morning
Monarda fistulosa, wild bergamot, has long-lasting seed heads
Inula magnifica looks truly magnificent, even in autumn and winter
Inula magnifica and Veronicastrum virginicum
Digitalis ferruginea has a good winter presence

Grasses: Ornamental grasses might not be to everyone's taste but they look brilliant in autumn and winter after mainly playing a supporting role in spring and summer. Their airiness and movement, often combined with nice autumn colours, adds that certain something which lets a winter garden truly come alive. So if you want to create a garden which still looks good in winter you need to add grasses as well. Below is a selection of some suitable grasses.

You cannot go wrong with Miscanthus sinensis, some have nice autumn colours as well
Miscanthus nepalensis has very pretty seed heads
Panicum virgatum, many varieties have nice autumn colour too
The seed heads of Calamagrostis brachytricha are sparkling on a cold morning in autumn

If you want to add some of these plants to your garden there is still plenty of time. Many can be grown from seed as well.

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The best plants for seed heads in winter

Most people grow certain plants because they have nice flowers or pretty leaves, but not many people choose plants for their seed heads in a...

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