14 Winter Plants to Add Color to Your Yard (Even During the Dreariest Days of the Year)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.