Stunning Winter-Flowering Plants for Brightening Up the Colder Months

'Lavender with Yellow Eye' Pansy
Photo: Justin Hancock

Believe it or not, you can have flowers in your garden, even through the winter. Of course, the choices increase as you head south, but you can still enjoy a few colorful blooms during the colder months in most areas. Add these shrubs, perennials, bulbs, and even a small tree to your garden to keep the color coming even through freezing weather.

01 of 14

Camellia

Close up of pink Camellia flower
Denny Schrock

A popular landscape plant in the southeastern United States and Pacific Coast areas, camellia is an excellent flowering shrub for hedges, borders, and lawns. Similar to rhododendrons and azaleas, this shrub is evergreen. Its beautiful flowers resemble small roses in shades of pink, red, yellow, lavender, or white. You can keep the show going from winter to spring by planting varieties with different bloom times.

Name: Camellia japonica

Growing Conditions: Part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 12 feet tall

Zones: 7-9

02 of 14

Witch Hazel

a branch of witch hazel covered with blooms
Dency Kane

Blooming from October to December, witch hazel is known for its fragrant, yellow flowers that have crinkled, ribbon-shape petals. This deciduous shrub is native to Eastern North America. In the fall, listen for the popping sound of its seed capsules discharging ripe seeds—the explosive sound can be heard more than 30 feet away.

Name: Hamamelis virginiana

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 20 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

03 of 14

Winter Hazel

Fragrant Winterhazel yellow flowers
Cynthia Haynes

Known for its fragrant yellow flowers, winter hazel is an easy-care, slow-growing shrub. Its tiny blooms hang in tassels from leafless branches in late winter. Closely related to witch hazel, it makes a good addition to shrub borders or woodland gardens.

Name: Corylopsis spp.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 8 feet tall

Zones: 5-8

Buy It: Corylopsis spicata 'Aurea' - Spike Winterhazel ($34, Quackin Grass Nursery)

04 of 14

Fragrant Daphne

Daphne flowers
Janet Mesic-Mackie

Just the sight and smell of winter Daphne can snap you out of the winter doldrums. Its profusion of sweetly scented rosy purple or white flower clusters appear for an extended time in late winter. Plant this small evergreen shrub close to an entry or patio to better enjoy its fragrance.

Name: Daphne odora

Growing Conditions: Part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 4 feet tall

Zones: 7-9

Buy It: Daphne odora Pink ($33, Wayside Gardens)

05 of 14

Winter Jasmine

Winter Jasmine
Cynthia Haynes

The hardiest jasmine, winter jasmine is a low growing, rambling groundcover. Its bright yellow flowers appear on leafless stems in midwinter. With branches that can grow up to 12 feet long, it will form new roots where it touches the ground and finds moisture. As a result, winter jasmine is a champion at stabilizing banks and covering slopes.

Name: Jasminum nudiflorum

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 15 feet tall

Zones: 6-10

Buy It: Winter Jasmine Flowering Shrub with Yellow Flowers ($18, The Home Depot)

06 of 14

Cornelian Cherry

cornelian cherry fall color and fruit
Dean Schoeppner

A deciduous, multistemmed shrub, Cornelian cherry is not a cherry at all, but a dogwood. It features tiny yellow flowers that seem to glow in the late winter sun, followed by bright red fruit in summer. It has the added benefit of being one of the most pest- and disease-resistant dogwoods.

Name: Cornus mas

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 25 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

Buy It: Cornus mas, Cornelian Cherry Seedling ($28, Cricket Hill Garden)

07 of 14

Pussy Willow

arranged pussy willow branches detail
Andy Lyons

Whether it's growing in your yard or displayed in a tabletop arrangement, the branches of pussy willow are always a beautiful sight. Rather than showy flowers, willows have catkins that appear on its bare stems in late winter and early spring. Make sure you buy a male tree so you'll get catkins that are pearl gray and silky rather than the female tree's smaller, greenish catkins.

Name: Salix discolor

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 15 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

08 of 14

Christmas Rose

Hellebores
Richard Hirneisen

Also known as Lenten rose, Christmas rose blooms in early winter in mild climates and early spring where winters are cold. Its cup-shape flowers have overlapping petals and bloom in shades of white, pink, red, purple, and yellow. This clump-forming perennial is also deer- and rabbit-resistant.

Name: Helleborus

Growing Conditions: Part shade to full shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 15 inches tall

Zones: 3-8

Buy It: Christmas Rose ($26, Amazon)

09 of 14

Winter Heath

glass decor with purple flowers in garden
David Speer

You'll be rewarded with masses of bell-like flowers in late winter when growing winter heath. This low-maintenance groundcover plant is tolerant of cold temperatures, snow, and harsh winds. There are dozens of varieties available in white, pink, red, and purple.

Name: Erica carnea

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 9 inches tall

Zones: 5-7

10 of 14

Early Miniature Bulbs

Galanthus snowdrops growing in test garden
Sandra Gerdes

Bring late winter blooms to your garden with miniature early-flowering bulbs, which only reach a few inches tall. For example, crocus blooms in bright colors such as purple, lilac, light blue, and golden yellow, and is hardy in Zones 3-8. Snowdrops, shown here, are hardy in Zones 3-7 and have white flowers with distinctive green markings. Siberian squill, hardy in Zones 2-8, produces bell-like, deep blue flowers shortly after snowdrops bloom.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

11 of 14

Winter Aconite

yellow blooming winter aconite
Denny Schrock

The buttercup-like, fragrant flowers of winter aconite appear in late winter, sometimes bursting up through snow. Its bright yellow flowers are one of the earliest nectar sources for pollinators, appearing before crocuses. This plant grows from tubers and will spread over time to form a carpet. It dies back to the ground after blooming, similar to spring-blooming bulbs.

Name: Eranthis hyemalis

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 4 inches tall

Zones: 3-7

12 of 14

Pansy

'Lavender with Yellow Eye' Pansy
Justin Hancock

A popular choice for containers and beds, pansy bursts into bloom in cool weather. In mild winter areas, pansies can be planted in fall for bloom throughout the winter and early spring.

Name: Viola × wittrockiana

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 8 inches tall

Zones: 6-10

13 of 14

Grape Holly

Grape holly Mahonia aquifolium
Cynthia Haynes

The fragrant, yellow flowers of grape holly bloom in late winter to early spring. Wildlife are attracted to its small purplish blue fruits that mature in late spring to early summer. Plant this broadleaf evergreen shrub in small groups in shrub borders and foundation plantings.

Name: Mahonia japonica

Growing Conditions: Part shade to full shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 7 feet tall

Zones: 6-8

14 of 14

Lily-of-the-Valley Bush

Pieris japonica 'Christmas Cheer'
Marilyn Ott

One of the best shrubs for brightening up your yard is lily of the valley bush. Also known as andromeda, this plant showcases cascading chains of bell-shape flowers that look a little like the flowers of the perennial lily of the valley. The small flower buds develop late summer into fall and add interest throughout the entire winter.

Name: Pieris japonica

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 12 feet tall

Zones: 5-8

Buy It: Pieris jap. 'Mountain Fire' ($26, Amazon)

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