The 10 Best Shrubs to Create a Cozy, Enchanting Vibe All Winter Long

PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here.

Your garden’s beauty doesn’t have to fade when summer’s flowers are a memory. With a little planning, you can enjoy your landscape year-round. An easy way to add winter interest to your garden is to plant low-maintenance shrubs that look good when the rest of the landscape is brown and dormant. Shrubs also provide habitat and food for birds and wildlife during the dreariest time of year. And many shrubs offer a bright spot of texture and color—even in winter—when you look outside your window on an otherwise gray day.

Before you fall in love with any shrub, read the plant description so you know it will survive winters in your USDA hardiness zone (find yours here). You also need to pay attention to a plant’s mature width and height; that quart-sized pot may not look like much now, but you’ll create a maintenance nightmare if you plant it too close to your house. Make sure to give it plenty of room to spread so you can enjoy its natural form as it matures.

By late fall or early winter, it’s too late to plant new shrubs in most of the country. But nurseries allow you to order for spring and ship when it’s time to plant in your hardiness zone next year. So, pick out the perfect shrub now, daydream of spring planting later, and enjoy creating a garden that’s beautiful in every season. Here are our picks.

10 Shrubs You Should Never Prune in the Fall

The 10 Best Winter Shrubs

best winter shrubs red twig dogwood
Flowerphotos/Contributor/Getty Images

1. Red Twig Dogwood

The stems of this shrub are green in spring and summer, then turn bright red in autumn when the foliage drops. What’s more, Dogwood branches offer amazing color and contrast to an otherwise faded winter landscape, and they’re stunning against a field of snow. They can become quite tall and wide, so plant them as an accent, rather than as a foundation shrub, or look for smaller varieties that top out around 4 feet tall.

best winter shrubs hydrangea
Star Tribune via Getty Images/Contributor/Getty Images

2. Hydrangea

Hydrangeas come in a wide variety of sizes and colors, so read the plant description to know what type you’re buying. They offer beautiful, lacey flowers which appear in early to mid-summer, which then turn papery in fall and remain intact on the plants through most of winter.

best winter shrubs winterberry
Photo courtesy of Proven Winners

3. Winterberry

Winterberry is a type of native holly that drops its leaves in the fall. It’s incredibly cold-hardy, and its jewel-like berries, which can be red or gold depending on the type you buy, remain on the stems all winter long. It’s gorgeous contrasted against snow. Make sure you buy a “male” pollinator and plant nearby to ensure you’ll get berries.

best winter shrubs beautyberry
Photo Courtesy of Proven Winners

4. Beautyberry

Beautyberry is an under-appreciated shrub, but it offers a lovely form and beautiful small flowers in late summer that yield hundreds of stunning purple berries in fall. Some types can become quite sprawling, so look for newer better-behaved varieties that won’t take up as much space. The berries will persist well into winter (if your local wildlife doesn’t eat them all).

best winter shrubs japanese holly
Photo Courtesy of Proven Winners

5. Japanese Holly

This attractive evergreen holly has shiny leaves in deep green or golden-yellow. It comes in many different forms, including upright varieties that look great in containers flanking a doorway or ground-hugging types that make excellent edging for walkways.

best winter shrubs firethorn
DEA/M. CERRI/Contributor/Getty Images

6. Firethorn

This evergreen shrub, also called nandina, has lovely leafy foliage, often with a reddish caste when the leaves are young. It offers tremendous year-round color and texture for warmer regions of the country.

best winter shrubs witch hazel

7. Witch Hazel

This cool native shrub has gold or orange fringe-y flowers that appear on the bare branches in January or February. The wispy flowers have personality plus, and some types are fragrant, too.

best winter shrubs daphne
Flowerphotos/Contributor/Getty Images

8. Daphne

Daphne is a lesser-known shrub that should be part of every warm region garden. Shiny, evergreen leaves offer a backdrop for fragrant pink, lavender or white flowers in late winter to early spring. This shrub also keeps a nice rounded shape without pruning.

best winter shrubs inkberry holly
Photo Courtesy of Proven Winners

9. Inkberry Holly

Inkberry holly is the ideal alternative to boxwoods, which sometimes struggle with disease or winter damage. The tiny evergreen leaves of this shrub provide lovely year-round texture, and they’re also faster growing than boxwoods.

best winter shrubs snowberry
Photo Courtesy of Proven Winners

10. Snowberry

Also called coral berry, this tough native shrub has pretty pink flowers in late summer that become eye-catching pink berries (which birds love) in the fall. Branches of coral berry make a long-lasting cut flower.

purewow author

Freelance Gardening Editor

Arricca Elin SanSone is a gardener with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to PureWow, she writes for Prevention, Country Living, Veranda, The Spruce and many other...