DOUG’S GARDEN BLOG – Hardy Perennials With Winter Interest

FALL IS FOR PLANTING — Just because it is now late October and we are beginning to have some cooler days and nights, it doesn’t mean your gardens or containers need to look lifeless now. KEEP PLANTING!!!

Here is a list of my top 5 favorite perennials for winter interest. As you read my favorites please take note that some of these perennials are evergreen through the winter.


Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’ – Autumn Fern has always been loved as a tough evergreen fern. Matter of fact, I have four planted in my gardens. It is one of the most attractive ferns for the garden, as the leaves are dark glossy green throughout the summer and winter. Then, the new leaves emerge each spring with rich bronzy-red leaves that later turn to bronze and then green again. Plant in part shade to light sun.

YUCCA filamentosa ‘COLOR GUARD’

This plant takes the “yuk” out of Yucca. In my opinion, it is by far the showiest variegated yucca on the market, showing bright yellow centers throughout the year.  In the winter the yellow will add a tinge of pink.  It is drought and deer tolerant.  Very versatile, it can be used in containers, flower borders, or desert gardens.  Plant in a mostly sunny location.


Sometimes referred to as Lenton rose or Christmas rose. This evergreen perennial is unpalatable to deer and voles. You can use this perennial in mass plantings, ground cover, or mixed borders. Also, it makes a great container plant for those containers that have winter interest. The flowers appear in mid to late winter and will last until May. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from. You want to plant in well-drained organic matter soil in part sun to shade location. One tip to share: cut the foliage back in the fall to make blooms show off better.


Sometimes referred to as Coral Bells. I love this perennial. There are so many varieties to choose from that have beautiful leaf colors ranging from dark burgundy to light chartreuse. All heucheras will have a small spike flower that adds more interest to this evergreen perennial. It has an array of uses and is great in container gardening. Heucheras are low mounding in their growth habit. Plant in well-drained organic soil in a partially shaded location. Once established, heucheras are drought tolerant. More people kill heucheras with overwatering.


Commonly referred to as Russian Sage. This is NOT an evergreen perennial. But is still one of my all-time favorite perennials. Russian Sage offers great winter interest with its silvery-blue stems sticking up in the air and adding movement in the landscape with the wind. Russian Sage has a beautiful, light blue flower in the late summer and early fall that complements its finely cut silvery foliage. This light blue flower is great with fresh flower arrangements. Plant in full sun and is very drought tolerant.

Those are my top five perennials. This list has not changed much over the years.


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7 thoughts on “DOUG’S GARDEN BLOG – Hardy Perennials With Winter Interest”

  1. Thank you for these great suggestions, Doug. Which of these do you feel might be deer tolerant? Are there any that are definitely not deer tolerant?

    I’m a little confused about the Russian Sage. You said it is not an evergreen perennial but it is perennial? And it does not die back overwinter?


    • Linda,
      Thank you for taking the time to read the blogs and then send us your comments. Much appreciated!!
      Hellebores are definitely deer tolerant. No question. A beautiful evergreen perennial that blooms in the winter and very early spring.
      Yucca ‘Color Guard’ is deer tolerant because of its sharp, prickly ends.
      Fern ‘Autumn Brilliance’ is an excellent fern that stays evergreen in our region and is deer tolerant.

      As for the Russian Sage… it is a woody perennial that is not an evergreen. In the winter there are just stems sticking out of the ground which makes winter the time to trim back, if needed.

    • Kathleen,
      Good Morning. Because I live in Virginia and not Maryland I am not sure what the state of Maryland classifies as native. My advice would be to contact the Maryland Native Plant Society for the needed information. Also, the Maryland Native Plant Source in Ellicott City, Md has a website and phone number to contact. The number is 410 – 313 – 2707. I applaud you and your community for wanting to plant native plants. Good luck, Doug Hensel

  2. When will you get in the Blue Prince Hollies? We bought 3 Princesses, but they won’t get fruit next year if not pollinated in the spring.
    The 3 we purchased (Clarksburg location) are 30-36” high.
    Thank you!

    • Beth,
      Good Morning.
      I am sorry to report back to you that we have sold out of the Blue Prince Hollies for the fall. My advice would be to check around your area with all garden centers to see if you can find a Blue Prince this fall. If not, then you do have the late winter / early spring season to find and plant one in order to get the needed pollination. Good luck, Doug

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