Plants for a Winter Cutting Garden

Keep your vases full with cheery color during dark winter days.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of courtesy Janice LeCocq

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of All-American Selections

Lenten Rose (Helleborus hybrids)

Savor winter-fresh flowers indoors by growing lenten rose. Cut flowers when they’re fully open. If you wait until you can see seedpods starting to form, blooms will last even longer. Float blooms in water or cut stems for vases. Prep flowers for the vase by recutting stems inside, plunging into boiling water for 30 seconds, then placing into cool water for 6 hours. Average vase life: 5 to 7 days.

Camellia (Camellia)

The waxy rose-like blooms of camellia make outstanding color contributions to interior spaces during winter. Camellia blooms are notorious for poor vase life. Harvest flowers the moment they’re fully open. If you cut them sooner, they won’t fully open. When cutting entire woody stems, place in warm water overnight. Average vase life: 3 to 5 days.

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

Celebrate the season with berried stems of winterberry. Look for varieties with red, pink or gold berries. Cut stems as soon as berries color. If you want stems for Christmas arrangements, cover bushes with bird netting to keep birds from nibbling ripe berries. Remove only one-third of stems from each bush annually. Wait two years to cut stems from newly planted hollies. Average vase life: 14 to 21 days.

Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)

Bright yellow blossoms appear on green stems in mid- to late winter. Bring jasmine stems indoors to force at any point in winter. It takes about 14 to 21 days for buds to pop open. For best water uptake, first condition stems by plunging them into a bucket of deep, warm water for 4 to 6 hours. Average vase life: 3 to 5 days.

Winter Heath (Erica carnea)

Gather stems of winter heath when you spot half of the florets open on a flower spike. Choose varieties with blooms in shades of pink, white, purple, mauve, yellow or red. Cut stems as long as possible. For best water uptake, first condition longer woody stems by plunging into a bucket of deep, warm water for 4 to 6 hours. Skip this step if you’re just clipping short stems for a small vase. Average vase life: 4 to 7 days.

Mahonia (Mahonia)

Soft yellow blossoms blanket flowering stems in winter. Clip a few mahonia stems to fill a bud vase with cheery color and soft fragrance. Cut stems when about half of the flowers on a stalk are open. Average vase life: 4 to 7 days, longer in a cool room.

Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens)

Look to evergreens to bring some living color to indoor bouquets. Colorado blue spruce cultivars provide a splash of cooling blue that pairs well with bright holly berries or pink winter heaths. Cutting stems counts as pruning, so harvest thoughtfully. Place stems into warm water for a few hours prior to arranging. Average vase life: Up to 14 days indoors.

Daphne (Daphne)

Sweetly fragrant, waxy flowers appear on winter daphne. Clip stems when half of the buds in a flower cluster are open. Harvest stems thoughtfully—each cut affects plant shape. Average vase life: 10 to 14 days.

English Holly (Ilex aquifolium)

Variegated holly stems can hold their own in a bouquet, and more so when they’re covered with bright red berries. Clip stems when berries are fully colored. Extend vase life by storing stems overnight in a deep bucket filled with warm water. Average vase life: 5 to 14 days.

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)

Lovely white to blush pink blooms reveal starry flowers filled with a lovely perfume. Cut star magnolia stems for forcing indoors when buds are plump. Otherwise, clip stems in late winter just before flowers are fully open. Extend vase life by dipping stems into boiling water for 30 seconds and storing overnight in a deep bucket filled with warm water. Average vase life: 4 to 7 days.

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia)

Fringe-like flowers open along bare branches in mid- to late winter. The golden blooms of witch hazel exude an enticing fragrance that’s more readily savored indoors with warm temperatures. Cut stems for forcing as buds swell. Otherwise, wait until buds open before clipping stems. Extend vase life by storing stems overnight in a deep bucket filled with warm water. Average vase life: 4 to 7 days.

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’)

Clip branches of this oddly twisted shrub to add texture and movement to indoor arrangements. Cut stems to any length at any point in the season. Place cuts carefully to enhance the shape of the shrub. Average vase life: 14 to 21 days.

Ornamental Millet (Pennisetum glaucum)

Harvest the bottlebrush seed heads of ornamental millet in fall, before frost, and dry by storing upright in vases or hanging upside down. Use the dried seedheads to add vertical interest and strong color to winter bouquets. Average vase life: Indefinite.