Did you know you can brighten a cold winter landscape with just a few winter-blooming plants? Winter flowers do more than brighten up an icy wonderland-they bring light and color to our very souls.
It can be easy to get caught up in the warmer months of spring and summer but the winter garden should not be neglected! Add color to late fall and early winter with a few strategic plants that love to bloom when the temperatures are cool!
These gorgeous cold-loving flowers will take the chill out of your icy winter, a reminder that even more flowers and foliage are just a few months away.
And, the sight of a few beautiful booms in the midst of icy snow is nothing short of magical.
Best Winter Flowers
Here are the best winter plants that flower in December-March. Research your USDA hardiness zone for accurate planting- warmer climates will have more winter flower options.
1. Winter Jasmine
Fragrant yellow flowers adorn winter jasmine in mid-winter. This spreading vine thrives in full sun, and as an evergreen shrub drips with yellow flowers. The long-lasting blooms are easy to grow and maintain. This fast-growing perennial plant can be trained to vine over a trellis, creating a colorful winter oasis.
Despite their delicate appearance, violas are a hardy winter flower, offering bright pops of color in cool weather. These tiny, fragrant flowers adorn rich green foliage and come in hundreds of color variations.
Give violas fertile soil and plant them in containers for an extended winter bloom. This flexible plant can be grown as an annual or perennial and tolerates part shade to full sun.
Pansies are charming cold-weather flowers that thrive in partial shade. They need rich, well-drained soil to thrive. In colder zones, plant pansies in containers and keep them close to the house for insulation against frost. These fragrant flowers have a light scent and come in many beautiful color combinations!
(Pansies also make a great addition to the fall garden).
4. English Primrose
English primrose thrives in cooler temperatures with partial sun. These gorgeous flowers arrive in early March and brighten the garden beds with bold yellow, purple, pink, and red hues. As woodland flowers, they are often found growing under the canopy of trees but can thrive in window boxes, flower beds, and containers.
There are many varieties: some work well as ground covers or in rock gardens.
5. Lenten Roses
One of the earliest winter flowers to bloom, Lenten rose offers a bounty of colorful flowers in the dead of winter. Also known as Winter Rose or Hellebore, these winter bloomers are available in pastels of pink, white, and yellow set against vibrant evergreen leaves. Hellebore do well in part shade and full sun, and they need fertile, well-draining soil in order to thrive.
In early March, crocus bulbs flower in colorful clumps of lavender, white or pink flowers. Crocus are among the first flowers to offer blooms in late winter and can even bloom in snow. These cold-tolerant perennials come back every year and bloom for about three weeks before fading into the spring soil. Plant the corms in loose, well-draining soil in an area that gets full sun.
7. Witch Hazel
Witch Hazel is a highly adaptive tree that unfurls its bright yellow (or auburn) flowers during the cool weather months of November through March. The fragrant blooms last up to 8 weeks, and this versatile plant is adaptable to sun and shade. Choose a variety with flowers in winter to add color to your cold-weather garden.
With their dainty down-turned white flowers, snowdrops bring vibrant blooms to the cold winter landscape.
As their name implies, you may even see them peek their heads up through the snow! These low-maintenance flowers are planted as bulbs in the spring and take two seasons to establish. Give them full sun to part shade and well-draining soil. Avoid soggy soil, or the bulbs will rot!
9. Japanese Pieris
Japanese Pieris sports gorgeous greenish-red foliage and large clusters of drooping white flowers that form in fall and bloom in early spring. Give Pieris moist, well-draining soil that is slightly acidic and thrives in partial shade.
I had found memories of evergreen pieris-several grew alongside our 1940s farmhouse when I was young!
You can’t go wrong with a gorgeous shrub that offers vibrant flowers in winter! Featuring glossy leaves and layered petals in bold red, white, and pink, camellia is a stunning shrub. Look for the camellia Japonica variety, which blooms during the coldest parts of winter. These cold- hardy shrubs do well in shaded areas. (Camellias need acidic soil and great drainage; learn how to plant them here.)
There are many gorgeous varieties of Camellia flowers- take a peak at this guide for some gorgeous options!
While daffodils are known for being spring flowers, some varieties will bloom in the final days of winter. We recommend planting a combination of these bright yellow flowers so that you can enjoy daffodil bulbs for several months. As perennial flowers, daffodils will come back every year and even self-spread. Learn how to plant daffodil bulbs in the fall here.
12. Hardy Cyclamen
Cyclamen are often grown as houseplants, but the hardy variety will thrive outdoors. These perennials offer heart-shaped silver-green foliage and romantic pink, white, or red flowers that bloom in late winter.
Cyclamen grow best in climates with cool and moist summers. Plant the tubers in loose, well-draining soil in the fall.
Forsythia burst to life in bold mustard yellow, signaling the end of winter and the beginning of spring. This hardy shrub can bloom as soon as early March in warmer zones. Full of color and vibrancy, forsythia is incredibly easy to grow. Cut back forsythia immediately after blooming as they set their flowers on old wood—plant forsythia in full sunlight with fertile soil.
While technically not a flower, we had to include holly in this list! Featuring bold red berries and rich green leaves, holly is low-maintenance and easy to grow. Traditionally used during the holiday season, the female berries begin to mature and ripen at Christmastime. Holly does best in full sun with slightly acidic soil.
15. Winter Heath
Winter heath is the perfect choice if you are looking for an evergreen ground cover. This hardy, low-growing shrub boasts hundreds of pretty pink blooms in early winter.
In mild climates, snapdragons can sometimes bloom in winter. With their cheery dragon-shaped faces, these short-lived perennials are perfect for pots and containers. They thrive in full sun to partial shade.
Indoor Plants That Bloom In Winter
Houseplants are an excellent way to get more winter flowers in your life during the coldest months of the year. Here are a few of the most popular indoor plants that bloom in winter:
17. Thanksgiving cactus
Thanksgiving cactus can bloom in late fall to early winter, bringing neon-colored flowers to their holiday table! These easy-to-care-for succulents thrive in bright, indirect light and need a loose soil medium with great drainage.
18. Christmas Cactus
Ever popular but hard to find, Christmas cactus offers a firework display of blooms to brighten up your winter world. Like Thanksgiving cactus, Christmas cactus need at least 12 hours of darkness in the fall to set their blooms.
A popular holiday gift, poinsettia will bring radiant blooms to warm up the frosty weather. Water these easy-to-care-for holiday plants thoroughly, then allow the soil to drain. Learn how to care for poinsettia here.
If you like to watch bulbs unfurl in beautiful colors right inside your own home, try growing amaryllis. These tropical plants hail from South America but can be forced to bloom indoors in colder climates. Cut off the flower stalk after it blooms to save your bulb for next year!
How To Design A Winter Garden
Here are a few tips on how to design a winter garden with blooms to hold you over until spring:
- When designing your flower beds, stagger 3-5 winter blooming plants in your garden.
- Plant your winter flower in groups of 3, 5, or 7. These numbers are aesthetically pleasing and will make the biggest visual impact.
- When designing your flower beds, stagger winter plants alongside flowers that bloom in different seasons.
- Consider filling a border with early blooming daffodil bulbs and hellebore. The yellow blooms will be stunning, and the hellebore foliage will hide the daffodil leaves when they fade!
- Fill containers with pansies, primroses and snapdragons for loads of beautiful winter color!
Some of the best annual flowers are pansies, primroses and snapdragons! These flowers do well when given mulch or tucked close to the home for a little added warmth. Add hardy foliage like ornamental cabbage or ornamental kale for lots of winter color and texture.
The best small winter flowers are violas, pansies, and primroses. Bulbs such as daffodils, hyacinth and crocus can also be planted in containers.
For added protection, set containers near the home. Mulch around the base of the plants for added warmth and protection against frosts!
Some flowers can be left outside over winter, but many will die when freezing temperatures set in. The zone you live in and the temperatures specific to that zone, will impact how flowers do in your specific zone.
Some common flowers that thrive outside over winter are hellebore, daffodils (late winter), violas, primroses and pansies.
Research your specific zone and micro climate to get a better understanding of which plants will thrive over winter in your area.