Our favourite December garden plants

Birch, cornus and box balls

There’s an array of plants that can bring colour to your garden this month, in different forms, from vibrant bark to beautiful flowers. Here, we share our favourites to add colour and interest, through the cold months ahead. There’s something for every space, whether you want a pot to brighten a patio or a statement tree to bring years of pleasure. Our choices include recommendations from the Gardeners’ World team and familiar faces from across the gardening industry.

Find more December inspiration:

Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’

Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’, with highly scented flowers that stand out in winter sunlight

Chosen by Frances Tophill, Gardeners’ World presenter

It flowers from autumn right through to early spring on its leafless branches and looks magnificent in winter sunlight. The flowers Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ bares are also highly scented, making it a really special. There is something about a little blossom tree in full glory when everything else is completely unadorned, that always seems magical to me.

Camelia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua – a vibrant choice for a winter container

Chosen by Flo Headlam, Garden Rescue Presenter

I have a small Camellia sasanqua, with pale pink flowers and a delicate scent, growing in a container. It’s absolutely joyous right now.

Camellia x vernalis ‘Yuletide’

A festive camellia that will work in a pot or at the back of a border

Chosen by Nick Bailey, Gardeners’ World presenter

Most camellias leave me cold, but this sasanqua form has beautiful single crimson blooms and perfect glossy foliage, giving the plant a fresh healthy look when the rest of the garden has faded. It’s great in a pot or as a border backer.

Birch trees

Birch trees on a bright winters day are hard to beat, with their striking white bark

Chosen by Toby Buckland, director of Toby’s Garden Festival

The birch tree that grows right next to our house is the star of our garden in December. The white bark sparkles on frosty mornings and, thanks to the festive fairy lights wound around the branches, at night too. As winter deepens, so does the purple shade of the twigs making them stand out against the bleached-white branches. By February, the twigs are the colour of ripe plums – a sure sign that spring is around the corner.


A year-round star in the garden, but a frosty yew is a particular favourite

Chosen by James Alexander-Sinclair, BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine columnist

This is a plant that is as good in December as it is on a hot June afternoon. Yew (Taxus baccata) is one of the most versatile plants in my garden. Architectural, bird friendly and very amenable. There may not be flowers, but a frosty yew in winter is a glorious sight: ice rimed and glittering against that deep dark green foliage. Like silver necklaces on a velvet gown.

Winter honeysuckle

Lonicera fragrantissima packs a punch in December, with its sweetly scented flowers

Chosen by Kay Maguire, BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine reviews editor

Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) is an unassuming plant for most of the year – a deciduous shrub with young, purple-flushed leaves. But from December, when the branches are almost bare, small creamy white flowers burst into bloom. The flowers are pretty but it’s their sweet scent that grabs you. Uplifting on the dullest winter day they last until early spring – plant it close by, so you can smell it whenever you’re outside.

Clematis cirrhosa purpurascens ‘Freckles’

Clematis cirrhosa purpurascens ‘Freckles’ provides winter interest in a small garden

Chosen by Catherine Mansley, GardenersWorld.com deputy editor

In a small garden like mine, it can feel difficult to accommodate plants for winter interest – once I’ve squeezed in all my spring and summer favourites, there’s not much space left. But even the smallest spaces usually have a sliver of bare wall or fence, which this clematis can scramble up. It’s evergreen, so perfectly innocuous most of the year, and its subtle flowers are an unexpected delight when you walk past it in the depths of winter.


With a wide variety of foliage colour to choose from, heucheras are a great addition to winter pots

Chosen by Isabelle Palmer, founder of The Balcony Gardener garden design

Prized for their bold foliage in a rainbow of colours, there are evergreen heucheras that are still putting on a show in winter. They are best at the front of a border or path edge, where they provide superb ground cover – they also make a great filler plant in containers and window boxes. Keep them on the dry side in the winter to deter the roots rotting.

Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’

Dogwood, with their bright stems, make a striking addition to a winter garden

Chosen by Lily Middleton, GardenersWorld.com content creator

When strolling around a garden on a chilly winters day, I love the splash of colour that dogwood provide. Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ has particularly striking, deep red stems, making an impact in an often otherwise bare border.



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