One of the joys of living in North Texas is that you get to escape the brittle cold that’s common in winter throughout much of the country. Just the same, it’s still time to bring your potted plants and hanging ferns indoors for the season and say goodbye to all things summer, including all those annuals and perennials that thrive best in the heat.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you’re consigned to staring at a bare landscape all winter. In fact, there’s plenty of things that you can plant now — right up until the ground is frozen. Check out our suggestions below.

Plant Your Pansies Now

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Pansies are among the best flowers for winter color in North Texas. As long as you get them in the ground early enough to establish a solid root system before the first frost, these colorful flowers will keep blooming all season.

Pansies can easily bounce back from single-digit weather with just a mere six hours of sunlight per day, and their heady blooms come in a huge array of colors, including yellow, red, blue, white and deep purple — making them particularly versatile for landscape designs.

Add Snapdragons for an Eye-Catching Look

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A favorite of kids (and kids-at-heart) everywhere, snapdragons can provide tons of bright color for your winter garden. If you’re eco-minded, these flowers also make a great winter home for some of the area’s most beneficial insects.

Snapdragons don’t particularly like the heat, so expect them to die off once the summer comes back around. That makes them a great “filler” you can put in around your dormant perennials. Snapdragons are also great if you have a spot you like to fill with summer annuals but don’t want to leave bare all fall and winter.

Try Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

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If you’re only familiar with the kind of cabbage and kale that’s grown for salads, you’re really missing out: The ornamental variety is absolutely stunning in cold weather.

Hardy even when the temperature gets down close to zero, ornamental cabbages and kales are much too bitter for the average palate — but they make up for that failing with frilled leaves that turn gorgeous shades of pink, purple and red as the weather gets colder.

Get Maximum Color with Violas

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A close cousin of the pansy, the viola makes up for its smallish size by producing many more blooms per stem than the typical pansy. They also have a virtually unlimited color palette from which you can choose, making them an excellent choice whether you have a specific look you want to maintain in your yard or just want the maximum display of color.

Violas are easy to grow, and they’re gorgeous when planted in large masses. Since they rest low to the ground, they’re particularly good for planting around driveways and other areas where you don’t want tall plants obscuring your view.

Use Winter Honeysuckle for Holiday Flare

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Who needs snow when you have winter honeysuckles around? Most of the year, these plain green shrubs just fade into the background — until the cold weather hits. Just in time for the holiday season, small white blooms with a heady fragrance burst forth everywhere you see, adding an element of Christmas magic to your yard.

Keep in mind that honeysuckles can grow up to 10 feet tall and just as wide, so you need to either plan to do some aggressive pruning or give them plenty of space. Once they start blooming, feel free to cut the stems for vases and transport that beautiful fragrance inside your home.

Keep Your New Flowers and Shrubs Content

Winter gardens take far less work than summer ones, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect the landscape entirely. There are some basics you need to keep doing throughout the season, including:

  • Watering: You can turn off your sprinklers in winter, but you still need to check the soil for dryness now and then. Unless there’s a freeze coming, it’s okay to give your new plants a little water if the weather is dry.
  • Weeding: A little casual weeding now will pay off big-time in the spring. Check your flower beds for small sprouts and pull them out by hand to keep them from spreading throughout the season.
  • Mulching: Mulch or compost can help your garden grow and insulate the roots of your favorite shrubs from cold snaps.
  • Pruning: While you shouldn’t do any major cutting in the winter, it’s okay to prune away dead branches on your shrubs and remove any plant material that’s overhanging your driveway or walk.
  • Insulating: If a cold spell is on the horizon, it may be wise to use some frost cloth to protect the plants you’ve recently added (especially if they haven’t had very long to take root).

Don’t be afraid to pick the brain of your favorite local landscape professional for more ideas about how to make your winter landscape come to life. There are plenty of options out there!