The Q&A Archives: Wishing For Winter Color

Question: I have a small area under a tree at the edge of my driveway that is very visible. I planted some purple and yellow mums for fall color, but they have already turned brown and yucky. Do you have any suggestions on what I can plant there that will look nice this winter? Someone suggested flowering kale, but I don't know much about that plant.

Answer: Some of the most reliable plants for fall and winter color include pansies, ornamental kale, and chrysanthemums. Mums can tolerate cold weather, but will give up if their roots remain wet for long periods of time. If your mums have lost their glory, perhaps the soil drains too slowly to suit them. Amend the planting area with some organic matter to help it drain quickly, then plant winter pansies and ornamental kale. These plants will provide some color until about mid-February. Since the garden site is beneath a tree, be sure the plants get watered regularly if rain happens to be lacking (they're competing with tree roots for necessary moisture and tree roots almost always win the battle!) Good luck with your garden!

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