Six plants you can put in a vase for winter (without water)

Plants to put in a vase for winter Green Fingered Blog
Marooned inside during the bad weather? Why not bring some of the garden indoors? Here are six plants you can take from your garden and pop in a vase to decorate your home in winter without needing to look after them. And they're probably not the ones you think...

I've been struggling to snatch more than a few minutes outside due to lots of rain and some very strong winds. Which makes me grateful for the plants I have over-wintering indoors, and the ones still growing outdoors that I've already picked and brought inside to put in a vase. 

In the coldest, wettest, darkest months, it helps to have as much of the garden indoors as possible! All the example shown are in vases without water. The plants mentioned work as dried stems and flowerheads, which means they need absolutely no looking after once you've got them on display!

Which plants can you put in a vase in winter?

Pampas grass

First up is the pampas grass, Cortaderia selloana. Much maligned due to it's lingering association with 1970s gardens, it is nonetheless a reliable and hardy grass, if a bit too big for most gardens, including mine. I can't bear to bin something when it's growing so well, even though I haven't really got an ideal spot for it. 

I have to cut it back every year to keep it contained but it does provide an attractive fountain of flowerheads in autumn. They last through winter until they get blown flat by the stronger winds. I've surrounded mine with other grasses to compliment it (or should that be detract from it?) and it kind of works. But it's always worth cutting down a couple of the plumes and putting them in a tall thin vase indoors over winter.

Cortaderia and miscanthus sinensis in a vase for winter Green Fingered Blog
Cortaderia and miscanthus sinensis


Paired with the cortaderia in the above picture I have Miscanthus sinensis. It's a more understated and slender grass but with flowering stems almost as long as the pampas grass so that they go together well. The Miscanthus adds an airy, floaty elemant against the bold fluffy heads of the cortaderia.

Pheasant's tail grass

I can't remember now whether this used to be called Stipa arundinacea, and is now renamed Anemanthele lessoniana, or the other way round. Let's stick to Pheasant's tail grass. The flowering stems are easy to pull away from the plant and provide an interesting effect when bunched together. Mine are in one of those strange angle bottomed bottles, making them cascade over the side of the shelf they are on, looking a bit like a water spray.

Pheasant's tail grass cascading from a bottle Green Fingered Blog
Pheasant's tail grass cascade from a bottle

My final three are currently all in the same vase:

Sedum spectabile

The wide flowerheads of Sedum spectabile are still looking good outside in the garden, with new growth developing beneath them. But they also carry on looking good when brought inside and allowed to dry out.

Allium christophii

I grow several varieties of allium in my garden, of which A. christophii has the largest flower heads. They can be left for a fairly long time in the garden, still looking good and providing food for the birds. This can detract from next years flowers though, and they tend not to last right through the winter, eventually succumbing to the wind and wet. 

Before they do, or as soon as they finish flowering if you want maximum growth the following year, cut the stems at the base and use them inside. They turn a nice golden colour when dry.

Eleagnus ebbingei

This is a large shrub which grows quite quickly and can be useful either as a screen or hedge or as a single specimen plant. It has small scented flowers in autumn, and dark green foliage which is an interesting silver grey colour on the underside. 

This turns an amazing silver, almost white colour when dried out, so works well indoors in a vase, gradually shining out as the green disappears and the silver becomes more prominent. It's a good one to offset whatever you put it with.  

Sedum spectabile, Eleagnus ebbingei, Allium christophii in a vase for winter Green Fingered Blog
Sedum spectabile, Eleagnus ebbingei, Allium christophii
So those are my six. I hope they give you some ideas for what you might grow this year, or what you might use in a vase from what you're already growing. Do you already have bits of your garden inside for winter display? Use the comments to share any interesting ideas, it would be good to hear about them.  


Home Matters Linky Party - Grab Button


  1. Ah, yes, Cortaderia. I have one growing in the front garden. It survived Eleanor and her predecessors and still stands proud. Despite the wet weather, the plumes still look good though will fall to a swipe of my hedgetrimmer soon. I don't garden for fashion; if a plant looks good and is a "doer" I'll make space for it. Even if, apparently, having a pampas in your front garden advertises the fact that you're what they call a "swinger".

    1. Totally agree that it only matters how the plant/garden looks, and not whether it's trendy. Fashions come and go, plants remain beautiful, even when they're not fashionable. I feel obliged to point out that my Cortaderia is in my back garden not the front!

  2. What a smart idea for your 6 on Saturday post!<3

  3. Prunings. After I prune my roses, I bring the branches indoors. Quite decorative. I have one with dark purple stems and that is especially lovely. In my eyes anyway

    1. Great idea, I will look to try that myself, thanks for sharing :)

  4. This is such a great idea for a blog post. You've shown how easily we can bring the garden in during the winter & not add to our winter chores. I'll definitely be scouring the beds next autumn for bits & bobs to decorate the house & remind me of what the summer gave to us. Enjoyed it a lot.

    1. Thanks Lora. But why wait until then? I bet there's something out there now you can bring in right away!

    2. You're absolutely right. I brought in an entire trug for holiday greenery, so there's undoubtedly something beautiful to put in a vase. Maybe starting w/clematis seed puffs!

    3. There you go! Clematis seed heads is a good one. You should post a pic when you've done it, on the GFB facebook page, it would be good to see it.

  5. This is a wonderful idea to bring the outdoors in during the winter. Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty