winter landscape native missouri

Winter Plants That Thrive in Your Native Landscape

In Missouri and across different areas of the world, many people dread the winter months.  However, winter is a season that has its own unique beauty. For starters, when else do you get to enjoy the beauty of snow covering the landscape like a soft white blanket?  And while many attribute winter to death, to us it is a season of slumber preparing for rebirth in the spring.  Although many plants die in the winter, some thrive.  By adding winter plants to the landscape of your property, not only will you be accentuating the sometimes-overlooked beauty that comes with the season, but you will also be providing food and shelter to birds and other animals. 


Remember that not many plants thrive and flower during the wintertime which means food for birds and other animals is usually in shortage. Winter plants can help to provide sustenance to wildlife that visits your property.  In this article, the discussion will focus on the top plants native to Missouri that you can grow to improve your landscape aesthetics this winter. Before we highlight these ‘winter champions’ though, it is important to point out that no matter the season you choose to plant any kind of plants, you must take proper care of them if they are to thrive in their natural environment. For that reason, we will first look at the best ways to take care of your plants during the winter months.

A Simple Guide on Caring for Your Winter Plants

Plants, trees, and shrubs can be planted in the winter months as long as the ground is workable.  It is however advisable to finish planting at least 6 weeks before a heavy freeze so that they have an opportunity to establish a good root system. 

  • If you are planting trees or plants during the winter, first loosen the soil, remove any plastic covers which may have been around your trees while they were in the nursery then plant your trees making sure that only the roots are covered by the soil.
  • Before the snow freezes the ground around the plant, ensure that you provide enough water to the plant. Ensure that the water makes the soil moist, but not soggy around the base of the plant.
  • Adding mulch around the base of the plant provides added protection.  However, be sure the mulch does not touch the plant.  Instead, leave some space around the plant to keep off pests such as aphids. For trees that thrive in the winter, you can wait until the ground has started freezing to start mulching.
  • During this period, your plants will need all their strength to survive. For this reason, ensure that you remove unhealthy and dead plant parts.
  • If you have overgrown plants that flower and thrive during this period such as roses, prune excess branches but ensure that you do this sparingly.
  • Right before and after winter starts setting in, ensure that you regularly check for an infestation of pests and parasites. Should you notice an infestation starting to set in, take the appropriate steps to get rid of them so that your plants have the best chance for survival.

winter plants

Keeping the above tips in mind, we can now look at some winter plants that thrive in Missouri and how to take proper care of them.


Plants Native to Missouri That Thrive in The Winter

Although nature seems to be on vacation in the winter, some winter plants thrive in the cold weather.  Some of these hardy plants yield berries or flowers, despite the freezing conditions.  What a wonderful treat to have vibrant splashes of colorful flowers and greenery in the dead of winter.  Below we have listed six of these hardy all-stars.

1. Common Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginica)

Common Witch Hazel has uniquely beautiful flowers that are pale to bright yellow, and on the rare side have an orange to reddish tint. They have ribbon-shaped petals that bloom from mid to late fall.  Common Witch Hazel can grow up to 20 to 30 feet high and 15 to 20 feet wide.  It can also be trimmed to grow as a tree or a shrub and is recommended to plant in semi-shaded areas when used in home landscaping. 

common witch hazel

2. Prairie Onion (Allium stellatum)

The Prairie Onion is a species of wild onion that is related to the Lilly family.  This beautiful plant is very tenacious and can survive in very harsh weather.  The bulbs of this plant are edible, and they produce lovely pale pink to purple blooms.  This plant provides both beauty and sustenance.

prairie onion

3. American Beauty Berry (Callicarpa americana)

The American Beauty is an open habitat shrub that is native to the southern United States.  This beauty is oftentimes grown as ornamental in yards and gardens.  It produces large clusters of berries that are purple and provides food to wildlife such as deer and birds.  The berries of the American Beauty Berry can be consumed, in small quantities, by humans.  The berries are most often used in wines and jellies, and the roots of this beautiful plant are used in herbal teas.  As you can imagine, it makes for an exceptionally beautiful and unique addition to a landscape.

american beauty berry

4. Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis)

This plant thrives throughout the year with green and glossy leaves throughout all seasons.  The Hawthorn sprouts white flowers in the early summer before producing beautiful berries that can either be gold, red, or orange in the winter. Though it has thorns, the beauty of this plant makes it ideal for landscaping as well as making decorative wreaths for the holiday season.


5. Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

This plant can grow into a unique pyramid shape, conical or columnar shape. When blooming, Winterberry usually produces white flowers and during the winter produces berries that are red, white, orange, pink, or blue. What’s more, this plant has a unique history as the early Romans thought that it could be used to keep evil at bay.

winter berry

6. Eastern Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus)

The Eastern Wahoo grows uniquely because, in the early fall, it produces red capsules that look like earrings which eventually open up and produce beautiful scarlet fruits. This plant makes for an aesthetic addition to the landscape and the best part is that can survive through harsh weather whether it is sunny or wet.

eastern wahoo

Welcoming the Winter tide with Winter Plants

While winter may seem to be the end of your lush green and flowering landscape, as you can see, that is not entirely the case.  Adding winter plants to your landscape, that are suited for the area you live, can provide a rewarding show of greenery, colorful blooms, and vibrant berries.  If you aren’t quite sure or confident in creating your winter landscape, Down to Earth Services is here to help.  We are native plant specialists, and we thrive on designing and creating beautiful native landscapes that will provide beauty for years to come.  For more information on our services, or how to get started, give us a call at 816-207-7960 or contact us online!   



Things to Consider When Designing A Native Plant Garden

Native Plant Gardens are often considered wild, and messy with grasses dominating the landscape and wildflowers bursting through sporadically.  The question is, how do you tame the wild but keep the beautiful prairie?  Can it be done?   At Down to Earth Services, we believe that you can have a visually stunning native ecosystem with the proper design for your native plant garden.   


After all, there is nothing worse than designing a new garden and realizing it doesn’t look the part or doesn’t grow the way you want it to. This happens all the time for those who have never set up a new native plant garden.

Fundamentals for Your Native Plant Garden Design 

It’s time to learn how to design a native plant garden so it grows well. Here are six of the most important tips a gardener can follow for their setup.

1) Matching Plants to Your Location

Start with the basics, which means choosing the right plants for the site you will be planting in. 

Take a look at the landscape to get the lay of the land.  Is the area you are planting sunny or shaded?  What type of soil are you working with?  After you take a look at these three things, choose plants that will thrive in the climate that you are working with.  If the area is sunny, be sure to choose plants for your native plant garden that love the sun. These plants generally need at least 6 hours of sun to grow their best.  If the area is shady, choose native plants that love the shade.   


A beautifully designed native plant garden starts with the right plants for the climate.  For a maintenance-free landscape, be sure to select plants that grow in the same climate.  This is one of the most important things when designing a thriving native garden.  Choosing the right plants will determine if your garden flourishes with low maintenance or requires more effort than you expected.  Planting the wrong plants for your climate will not work.

grouping plants native plant garden

2) Designing for Succession Blooming

Most blooms do not last all year long, so it is important to choose your perennial plants based on the succession of blooms.  Select plants that bloom in the spring, summer, and fall.  By doing this, you will have a diverse garden with wildflowers coming into bloom while others are going out of bloom throughout the seasons.  You will want to be sure that you are designing your garden with bloom cycles in mind.  

You will want to have a good idea of how your native plants look in different seasons to determine the best placement for each plant.  You want to have your plants grouped in a way that they bloom seamlessly and add beauty to your garden.  For added movement, structure, and texture be sure to include different types of grasses.  Big Bluestem or “turkey-foot grass” creates a beautiful background or border for perennials and is a stunning bronze color in the fall and into the winter.  If you choose Big Bluestem, be sure to plant it sparingly so that it does not overtake your blooms.

3) Grouping Similar Plants Together   

While it can be fun to let our artistic side flow when designing your garden, don’t let it completely take over.  There are many practical reasons to group certain plants or flowers.  For the best possible results in your native plant garden, group plants that have the same or similar requirements for sunlight, soil, and water.  This will make it much easier to maintain your native garden.  


For aesthetics, be sure to use different textures in your native plant garden.  While blooming plants may provide a mesmerizing sea of color, contrasting textures and forms will add a unique element of beauty and contrast.  

4) Plant Height

Have you thought about the height of the plants?  This is a common mistake many beginners make. Be sure to choose plants that will not grow taller than half the width of the bed. 

native plant design

5) Designing the Contour of Your Native Plant Garden

When designing your native plant garden, the goal should be a naturalistic design.  By imitating what you see in specific landscapes in your community such as a prairie, or wetland, you can get an idea of what plants might grow well in the area you are planting in.  You will also be able to see what plants grow well together.  Something that many people overlook is plant size and the sequence in which they bloom.  Understanding what works well and where each plant should be placed will help you develop a beautiful and healthy ecosystem.  We suggest researching and learning about what native plants are the most dominant in your area to help decide which plants to choose as well. 

6) Weed Control

Weed control and maintenance of your native garden will require some initial dedication.  The most critical time for weeding is two weeks after planting.  Keep in mind that this is dependent on the season as well so if you are planting in warmer or dry seasons it could be longer.  Once your native landscape is established it should need only minimal maintenance.  


Be sure to research which plants need to be pruned, how often, and when, as well as making sure that you are weeding out any undesirable plants or plants that start to overtake your space. 


Final Thoughts

Designing a native plant garden can be challenging, however, your design does not have to be elaborate.  Consider limiting the number of different plants to 10 to 15 different species.  The secret to a beautiful and eco-friendly native plant garden is all about design, preparation, and planting based on the conditions of your space.  If you are willing to put in the time during the design phase, your result will be a native garden that is uniquely beautiful to your space.

native plant garden

At Down to Earth Services, we are native plant and landscaping specialists dedicated to the preservation and restoration of native plant communities.  We focus on the creation of regenerative and ecological landscapes with the mindset of solving problems and balancing design with nature’s intent for both function and beauty

If you need help designing, installing, or managing your native landscape, contact Down to Earth Services to schedule an appointment.  We look forward to hearing from you and in the meantime, we hope you continue to “Grow With Nature”!