Native Plants With Winter Interest

By Mary Pellerito

Looking out at my predominately brown winter landscape, I want to add some plants that will provide some winter interest next year.   For a native plant lover, I appreciate color and texture in the winter garden, but I also want to see wildlife in the garden, for a garden is not a still-life painting.  It is a living piece of art that I share with the wild creatures living in my area.  Here are some native plants I am considering:

Switchgrass ‘Heavy Metal’ (Panicum virgatum)
Switchgrass is steel blue in color and adds winter interest.  Switchgrass also providea forage and habitat for pheasant, quail, grouse, wild turkey, and song birds with its plentiful seeds and tall cover.

Ground Cover
Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) is an evergreen ground cover that produces multiple red berries that last into winter and are a food source for a variety of birds, in particular partridges, hence the common name.  It grows 2-4 inches in part sun to part to full shade in moist woodland locations.

Photo via


Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
Bright red fruit mature by late summer remaining on the plant into mid-winter. The red fruit of winterberry is eaten by small mammals and more than 48 species of birds.  All hollies tend to be dioecious, meaning the plants are either predominantly male or female. To ensure an abundant crop of fruit, locate a male plant in close proximity to the female plants.


Hawthorns (Crataegus) grow 16-49 feet tall and provides red berries in winter that attracts more than 20 species of birds. The tress also offer great cover and protection for nesting birds, due to their thorns.

Similar Stories: