More Plants for Winter Interest

More Plants for Winter Interest
Quite a few trees and shrubs can provide interest to the landscape during the winter months. The species with picturesque shapes or exfoliating, colorful bark are examples.

Japanese Maple

Japanese maple is an open, airy, rounded, slow growing, small tree. Under good growing conditions, it can reach 20 to 30 feet in height. However, it is mostly 10 feet or less. The species is hardy to zone 5, although the hardiness of the cultivars and varieties can vary somewhat.

The beautiful form of the tree is in clear view once the leaves drop in the fall. The branches create a horizontal plane.

The Japanese maple is named for the palmately lobed foliage of the species. Some cultivars of Japanese maples have finely cut foliage. In some cases, the leaves are colorful throughout the growing season. In the fall, the foliage turns yellow to scarlet or orange. In some cultivars, the twigs can be red, particularly in the winter months.

Filtered shade is best for the Japanese maple. It prefers a rich moist soil. This plant is resistant to oak wilt fungus. For the most part, Japanese maples have few problems and require minimal care.

A sheltered spot from wind and full sun is generally best. These make great accent or patio trees. Lots of cultivars are available.

The Stewartias

The stewartias are special trees with very colorful lovely bark. They are ideal as specimens or patio trees. The shrubby ones can be used in mixed borders.

There are both native and introduced species in cultivation. Some of the natives are hardy to zone 5. The plants are some of the most beautiful deciduous trees around.

Stewartias can provide at least three seasons of interest in the landscape. The white flowers open in spring and resemble those of the camellias to which they are related.

In the fall, the leaves are a source of purple to reddish-orange fall color. Once the leaves droop, the bark is exposed to view. The flaking bark of the Japanese stewartia is quite spectacular

The bark of the native stewartia species also provides winter interest. This native is only 10 to 15 feet in height with a matching spread. It brings scarlet to orange fall color.

The slow growing plants need an acid, rich soil. Some of these can be hard to transplant. So, use container grown plants if possible. Virginia stewartia is native to the Southeast and hardy to zone 7. Mountain stewartia is native to the Appalachian region and hardy to zone 6 or so

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