10 Plants that Bloom in Winter

Witch hazel blossoms capped in snow.


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The cold gray days of winter can make even people with the most cheerful personalities wish for the bright colorful days of spring. Splashes of color can, however, be found in the garden in the winter, and more than just the greens of pine, spruce, and fir trees.

Even during a blustery winter, you can have the bright hues of red, purple, and yellow that pop and are accentuated during the frosty winter snowstorms.

Here are ten plants that bloom from late November till late March to keep that hope for spring alive.

  • 01 of 10

    Winter Hazel (Corylopsis pauciflora)

    Butter Cup Winter Hazel Corylopsis pauciflora with blue sky.

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    Winter hazel is a small deciduous shrub that, as the name suggests, literally shines in the colder months. It has beautiful translucent yellow petals on small blossoms that, if backlit, shine like stained glass. The dark gray stems and pale-yellow blooms create an interesting framework for the blossoms to cling to creating a very stark but elegant design against snowy and cold winter skies. On warmer winter nights the volatile essential oils in the plant are released on the wind and you are greeted with a spicy fragrance that you will not soon forget.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 8
    • Bloom Color: Pale Yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium moisture, well-drained
  • 02 of 10

    Winter Sweet (Chimonanthus praecox)

    Picture of winter sweet blossoms


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    The small yellow bell-like blossoms of winter sweet are so cheerful that the only
    thing that can make your smile any wider is the intoxicating smell of this winter-blooming shrub. When the flowers open completely, they are undeniably cheerful with a deep purplish or burgundy center that contrasts with the pale-yellow petals. These make an amazing cut flower for a winter arrangement for both visual and aromatic appeal.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 9
    • Bloom Color: Yellowish with purplish-brown centers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, fertile, well-drained
  • 03 of 10

    Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)

    Winter Jasmin in the snow


    Dragan Todorovic/ Getty Images

    Winter Jasmine is a deciduous flowering vine that blooms from November and right on through the season. In its native China, it is called Yingchun, or "the flower that welcomes Spring". Its bright yellow flowers are found on trailing, vine-like green stems. This makes it useful as a ground cover or for trellises. Winter jasmine gets its scientific name from the fact that it grows on bare or nude green stems, which are pretty themselves next to the yellow flowers. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 10
    • Bloom Color: Yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained sandy loams with regular moisture
  • 04 of 10

    Japanese Apricot (Prunus mume)

    Japanese Apricot Blossoms


    Jo Whitworth/ Getty Images

    If you are looking to ring in the New Year with a cheery splash of color, then the Japanese apricot is your tree. Prunus mume is a small deciduous species which explodes with beautiful little pink, white, or red blossoms in January and February like clockwork. Most Japanese apricot trees have an amazing aroma too, and they only reach a height of 20 feet, so even the shortest of us can get a whiff of their blossoms. There are over 250 named cultivars and this is a testament to how long the gardeners of Japan have been breeding this species. You will need to search for this plant some, as it is often difficult to find in nurseries, but you will most likely find the ‘W.B. Clarke’ and ‘Kobai’ online.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 9
    • Bloom Color:  Pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs:  Average, medium moisture, well-drained, acidic loams
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Winter Heath (Erica carnea)

    Pink Erica carnea flowers (Winter Heath) and snow


    Volha Halkouskaya/ Getty Images

    Winter heath is a beauty year-round, but it steals the show when it blooms in late November through early spring. The species has many cultivars, but all are evergreen shrubs that trail closely across the ground and make amazing low maintenance ground covers for full sun areas. Depending on the cultivar, winter heath will delight your eyes with heavy blooms of light pink to nearly purple all winter. If set against a freshly fallen snow the contrast of purple and white is breathtaking. 

    • USDA Growing Zones:  5 to 7
    • Bloom Color: Pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: sandy, acidic, medium moisture, well-drained loams
  • 06 of 10

    Japanese Plum (Eriobotrya japonica)

    Japanese Plum blossoms covered in the Snow


    antares71/Getty Images

    For those lucky folks living in the goldilocks zone that affords you the luxury of a mild winter, with temperatures no colder than 10o F, the Japanese Plum is an excellent tropical evergreen choice. It blooms a month earlier than the Japanese apricot and is small in size reaching no larger than 25 feet in height. When planting the Japanese plum consider pairing it with the Japanese apricot. If you combine these two trees in your landscape with a dwarf or intermediate striped bark Japanese maple, you can have a stunning winter and fall interest Japanese garden that pleases the eye for months on end.

    • USDA Growing Zones:  8 to 10
    • Bloom Color: White, Pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Grown in fertile, evenly moist, well-drained loams
  • 07 of 10

    Snowdrop (Galanthus spp.)

    Snowdrops blooming in the winter through the snow.


    Muzka

    Just as you are in the depths of winter and you do not think spring will ever come, through the cold ground comes the hope-bringing little Snowdrop. Galanthus has little white flowers that are only inches tall, with drooping white blooms that are as white as freshly fallen snow. Often naturalized in an area, they will spread profusely and wildly. Galanthus propagates both by self-seeding and offsetting bulbs to form large clusters of flowers. This spreading makes the snowdrop an excellent flower to plant under a wintering
    flowering tree to create a beautiful ground cover.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Bloom Color: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: average, medium moisture, well-drained soil
  • 08 of 10

    Witch Hazel (Hamamelis spp.)

    Witch Hazel 'Jalena' covered in snow in January


    Ellen Rooney/Getty Images

    Witch Hazel, literally bursts with color. This little shrub holds on to its seeds till they ripen, then, when it is ready, it explodes sending them out as far as 59 feet. While that is amazing in itself, as the seed pod prepares to explode the seeds start to spin inside the pod at an incredible 26000 times per minute. The colors of this plant often look like streaks of light from fireworks, coming in yellows, oranges, reds, and purples. Witch Hazel is also aromatic, and not the astringent smell most people are familiar with from the medicinal product. The aroma varies across the cultivars from spicy, to sweet, to floral. Witch hazel is the plant you need to light up your winters and give you that boost when you need it most.

    • USDA Growing Zones:  3 to 8
    • Bloom Color: Yellow sometimes tinged with orange or red
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs:  average, medium moisture, well-drained soils 
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

    Winter Aconite in the snow


    John Tinning/Getty Images

    Winter aconite is a terrific little plant that blooms late in the season, just before you would see the snowdrops appearing. It is a single small yellow flower that pops from the center of bright green bracts (grass-like leaves). The cheerful yellow works well with the white of the Galanthus and the two are often planted together in the same manner to compliment a small deciduous shrub or tree such as winter hazel or witch hazel. In the right conditions winter aconite will spread profusely and you will have a sea of yellow to lift your spirits.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Bloom Color: Bright yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils
  • 10 of 10

    Hellebore (Helleborus spp.)

    Close-up of Helleborus orientalis 'Snow-Rose'


    Ralf Menache/Getty Images

    In the shadiest of places, tucked under a tree, you might find a sign of color peeking out, reminding you that spring will be doing the same thing soon. This is what the perennial evergreen Hellebore does. Often mistakenly only referred to by the common name lenten rose, there are actually many varied species that full under this genus. They all enjoy the shade and the cool weather, and some will thrive even in snowfall. It is best, though, to keep them sheltered from the coldest temperatures by placing them under and around trees or shelters. Providing the right conditions means you will be rewarded with a beautiful specimen that flowers in a graceful gentle bow. And they can grant you shades in almost any color you can imagine.

    • USDA Growing Zones:  4 to 9
    • Bloom Color: White to pink to rose-purple with yellow stamens
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: organically rich, humusy, well-drained soils

No matter what space you have or color you are looking for, there is sure to be a plant suitable to brighten your winter season. Some of the plants mentioned above will quickly give you gratification while others will need to be nurtured a little more, but once they do, they will reward you for decades if properly maintained.