Plants and shrubs that bloom outdoors in winter

Once crocus poke their heads through the snow, can spring be far away? The landscape becomes speckled with increasing flower color as the cool spring days slip into the summer. Even into fall, flowers can be seen turning their faces to the sun. Winter though is not often thought of as a time when blooms would appear yet nature does hold some surprising beauty for us in the form of small blooms, willing to open in colder weather.

Not all U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cold hardiness zones can see this wonder of blooming plants because there is a limit on how much cold they can take. The flowering plants and shrubs listed below include the USDA zones where they will bloom in winter. Click here to see the USDA cold hardiness zone map to locate your zone.

Plants
  1. Winter Pansy (viola) is probably the most colorful option for winter bloomers. Pansies grow to less than a foot in height. White, yellow, violet or a combination of those colors will bloom in early winter to late spring. Zones 6 to 9.
  2. Snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii) is probably the most popular winter bloomer. It grows from a bulb. White blooms appear in mid-winter on a plant less than one foot tall. Zones 6 to 9.
  3. Hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) is a perennial that grows to about 18 inches. It shows soft green, pink or white blooms in late winter. Zones 5 to 9.
  4. Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) is a 12-inch evergreen perennial that produces white or pinkish blooms in midwinter. Zones 4 to 8.

Shrubs
  • Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) produces fragrant, pale yellow blooms in mid to late winter. This shrub, unpruned, can reach a height of 12 feet. Zones 6 to 9.
  • Winter Heath (Erica x darleyensis) is a 6 to 12 inch evergreen whose purple-pink blooms will display in early winter. Zones 7 to 9.
  • Winter Heather (Erica carnea) is an evergreen reaching about 12 inches in height and producing deep pink blooms in early winter. Zones 5 to 8.
  • Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) grows to about 10 feet in height and produces yellow or reddish-orange blooms in mid-winter. Zones 5 to 9.
  • Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) grows to about 10 feet in height and produces yellow blooms in mid to late winter. Zones 7 to 10.
Tips

When planting winter bloomers, choose a location on the south or west side of your home so the plant is not hit by morning sun that can cause snow or ice to thaw too quickly.

Plant in a location where cold northern blasts are blocked, like close to the house or a solid fence, like brick or stone.