The Chicago area falls within the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone 5, and while there are many plants that simply cannot tolerate the cold winters, others certainly will – especially shrubs. Below, you can learn more about some of the most beautiful fruiting and flowering shrubs that will give your landscape some color or texture during the coldest winter months.
#1 – Black Chokeberry
Black chokeberry can add pops of color to your landscape – long after all your other plants have stopped fruiting and flowering. It exudes fragrant, pinkish white flowers in spring. In the late summer, these flowers reveal gorgeous black berries that last well into winter months, and contrast nicely with the bright pinkish-red foliage. The best part? You can even make jams and jellies with chokeberry for a wintertime treat!
#2 – Red Osier Dogwood
This is a medium-sized shrub that looks incredibly interesting throughout the year. In the summer, gorgeous foliage is often variegated for interest. Once foliage is gone in winter, the shrub reveals stunning red stems with brilliant, white berries that add texture and fun to any wintertime landscape. It grows as high as nine feet tall, and can get as wide as 12 feet, but gardeners find the Red Osier dogwood is easy to trim into shape.
#3 – Winterberry (Red Sprite Variety)
As its name would suggest, winterberry (namely, the Red Sprite variety) is a very small shrub that provides color and beauty all year round. It’s a holly bush that offers gorgeous greenish-white flowers in warmer months. Following, insanely bright red berries show in winter. If you’re a fan of birds (and who doesn’t love their sound in dreary winter months?), this is the shrub for you – birds that don’t migrate can’t seem to get enough of the winterberry fruits.
#4 – Oregon Grape Holly
The Oregon Grape Holly is a unique shrub that you won’t see very often, and makes an ideal conversation starter in your landscape! It grows best in the shade; up to six feet tall and five feet wide. In winter, the leaves turn a deep, dark burgundy. In spring, you’ll notice bright yellow flowers with a bit of fragrance. In summer, blooms fall away to reveal blue-purple berries. These will stick around until the cold sets in for good, and can be plucked and eaten or turned into delicious jam. How lovely!
#5 – Snowberry (Hancock Variety)
Finally, if you love bright colors, it’s hard to go wrong with the Hancock variety of the snowberry shrub. First, this shrub provides phenomenal ground cover, and is particularly adept at preventing weed growth. But its real appeal is made evident in late summer, fall and winter. Starting in late August, pink bell-shaped flowers will begin to sprout from the tips of the branches. Then, the flowers are delightfully replaced with white fruits with red speckles, that attract numerous bird varieties in fall and early winter.
Though Chicago winters can be downright cold, there are still plenty of shrubs known for their ability to produce flowers or fruit (even in January and February)! We hope you explore and enjoy all of these are great options, and if you need help planting or caring for your chokeberry, dogwood, winterberry, snowberry, or holly bushes and shrubs, Martin John Landscaping has the tools and expertise to keep your shrubs looking amazing all year. Happy landscaping!