19 Winter Plants to Add Color to Your Yard (Even on the Dreariest Days of the Year)

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The gardening season doesn’t have to end after the first frost. Many annuals, perennials and shrubs show off in January and February, even in the coldest climates. To enjoy that splash of color, plant these beauties now before the ground freezes in your part of the country. And read the plant tag or description before buying to ensure a plant will survive winters in your USDA Hardiness zone (find yours here). Then, start digging! With a little effort now, you’ll be able to enjoy these winter plants even on the shortest days of the year.

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winter plants snowdrop

1. Snowdrop

Also known as galanthus, these teeny white and green flowers with drooping heads appear in late winter. Sometimes snow still is on the ground, giving these darling plants their name. They’re perfect in rock gardens or along the edges of walkways. Plant the bulbs in fall before the ground freezes.

winter plants hellebores

2. Hellebores

These absolutely stunning flowers, also called Lenten roses, unfurl in mid to late winter (often around the time of Lent), depending on your climate. They look fragile but are actually hardy perennials that withstand even the toughest winters. They’ll often appear when snow still is on the ground in cold regions.

winter plants pieris japonica
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3. Pieris Japonica

Hundreds of tiny, bell-shaped flowers dangle from delicate stems on this lesser-known evergreen shrub. Pieris starts blooming in late winter and lasts for weeks, so it’s a lovely addition to plant beds along the foundation of your house or in your garden.

winter plants witch hazel

4. Witch Hazel

The quirky, wispy-looking yellow flowers of witch hazel appear on naked branches in mid-winter, even in the coldest climates. There are several different types, so read the plant tag or description to be sure you’re purchasing a winter-blooming variety.

winter plants cyclamen

5. Cyclamen

Cyclamen is a showy, popular houseplant, but it’s also a pretty ground cover in mild climates. Plant them beneath deciduous trees (ones that lose their leaves) so they’ll get winter sun and summer shade.

winter plants winterberry

6. Winterberry

This native deciduous holly, which sheds its leaves in fall, is loaded with dazzling bright red berries all winter long. Birds love it. Look for a dwarf variety so it won’t become too big in your yard. You’ll also need to plant a “male” pollinator plant to set fruit.

winter plants crocus

7. Crocus

Just when you’ve given up on spring, these cup-shaped flowers appear, popping up through the snow in late winter. They come in cheery shades of pink, yellow, white and purple. Hint: They’re tasty to rodents, so you may find the flowers popping up parts of your garden where you did not place them (rodents tend to move them and replant!). To keep pests at bay, try planting the bulbs in the fall, layered underneath less-tasty bulbs such as daffodils, which rodents tend to ignore.

winter plants primrose

8. Primrose

These flowers look delicate, but they’re actually incredibly cold-hardy. They’re one of the earliest perennials to bloom in late winter or early spring. Read the label to make sure it’s a primrose variety that will survive your winters.

winter plants ipheion

9. Ipheion

These charming, sweetly scented flowers offer late-winter or early spring blooms. The diminutive flowers, also called starflowers, were popular in colonial gardens. Plant the bulbs in masses for best effect.

winter plants red twig dogwood

10. Red Twig Dogwood

If you’re looking for drama, red twig dogwoods are striking specimens, especially contrasted against a blanket of snow. The intense red color lasts all winter, and it’s an incredibly cold-hardy shrub, too.

winter plants pansies and violas

11. Pansies and Violas

These charming annuals look like they have tiny, funny “faces,” and they come in an array of colors, from lemon yellow to amethyst. They can handle light frosts, too, so they’ll keep blooming from fall through winter in mild climates. And even though they’re annuals, some types drop tons of seeds so that they’ll pop up again when spring returns.

winter plants mahonia

12. Mahonia

This attractive evergreen shrub has frond-like leaves and dramatic sprays of bright yellow flowers in late fall or early winter. Read the plant tag to make sure mahonia will survive winters in your climate.

winter plants winter aconite

13. Winter Aconite

This lesser-known winter bloomer has frilly foliage and buttercup-like blooms that pop up through the snow. They’re not particularly tasty to rodents and deer, so they’re a good choice if you’re always battling hungry rodents in your garden. Plant the bulbs in clusters in fall for best effect.

winter plants scilla

14. Scilla

Petite star-shaped flowers in blues, pinks, whites and purple are charming planted in masses along walkways or in rock gardens. It’s an old-fashioned plant that your grandma may have called “squill.” Plant the bulbs now in fall for blooms in late winter or very early spring.

winter plants camellias
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15. Camellia

With over 100 varieties of this stunning flower, the key to making sure you have a garden full of lively camellias throughout the colder months is to stagger your planting. Species such as the camellia sasanqua tend to bloom in mid-fall to early winter, while others, the camellia japonica for example, will come to fruition in mid-winter to spring.

winter plants nandina
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16. Nandina

If you’re looking for a plant that’ll add to your holiday décor, look no further than the Nandina. Nicknamed “heavenly bamboo,” this beautiful shrub will not only be an eye-catching addition to your driveway during the holiday season, but it’s also hassle-free and low maintenance post-festivities. All you need is to water it as needed and add some mulch (about three to five inches will do the trick, says Home Guides) to protect its roots.

winter plants 17
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17. Blue Holly

We can’t talk holiday festivity flowers without bringing up blue holly. This plant lights up the winter landscape with bright red berries set against evergreen foliage with a blue sheen. Just be sure to pick up both a male and female plant in order for cross-pollination to occur (and berries to form).

winter plants leucojum
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18. Leucojum

While these delicate bulbs closely resemble snowdrops, they actually grow to be twice as tall. These fragrant perennials are the ideal plant to add to your garden since they can withstand most garden critters. Though they fully come to life in the spring months, they’ve been known to bloom while there’s still snow on the ground.

winter plants ornamental cabbage
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19. Ornamental Cabbage And Kale

Not all cabbage is for eating (bummer). Some of it is for simply making your garden that much more aesthetically pleasing, which we can appreciate. While these two plants are strikingly similar, you can easily tell them apart because the ornamental cabbage has smooth leaves, while the ornamental kale has the ruffled leaves. These decorative annuals are sworn nemeses with summer heat, so start planting them in the late summer when the weather is much cooler.

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