The 21 best plants and flowers for winter garden colour

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Fill your winter garden with scent, colour and silhouette! Don’t let the garden go bare and dormant over the cold months. These winter-flowering plants will brighten up your pots and flower borders.

Heather

heather-winter-flowering-plant-erica

Winter-flowering heather is a brilliant plant for low-growing texture. It also looks fantastic in pots. It comes with pink, white and purple flowers.

Japanese quince

japanese-quince-shrub-pink-flowers-winter

Also known as chaenomeles, this is a hardy woody shrub with thorny branches that bears cup-shaped flowers in winter and early spring.

Winter aconites

winter-aconite-yellow-flowers

These have lovely yellow flowers and are suited to growing underneath deciduous trees and shrubs. They prefer rich, moist soil.

Pansies

Pansies

Winter-flowering pansies are a gardener’s staple – ideal for filling pots and window boxes for a flash of colour to be seen from indoors.

Cyclamen

Cyclamen

Cyclamen are winter heroes that can be brought to flower from autumn to spring. The flowers come in red, pink and white shades and look fantastic in pots or planted under trees.

Helleborus

helleborus-pure-white-petals

Hellebores are often known as the Christmas Rose because they can flower in midwinter. Look out for H. Orientalis varieties in white, green and even dark red.

Dogwood

Dogwood

Cornus is a small woody shrub grown for its colourful bare stems in winter. Look for C. alba sibirica for red stems and C. sericea ‘Flaviramea’ for yellow bark.

Viburnum

viburnum-tinus flowers in winter december

There are a huge range of viburnum plants for winter colour. Look out for evergreen varieties like V. tinus and V. burkwoodii. Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is also brilliant with strongly scented pink flowers.

Witch hazel

Witch hazel

Witch hazel is grown for the wiry flowers it bears along the branches. Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ has red flowers, ‘Jelena’ is coppery coloured and ‘Pallida’ is best for yellow.

Mahonia

Mahonia

A stunning range of evergreen shrubs commonly known as barberry. They bear sunny yellow flower spires above rich green leaves.

Winter-flowering cherry

Winter-flowering cherry

Prunus subhirtella autumnalis is an ornamental cherry tree that bears pale pink flowers from late autumn to early spring.

Snowdrops

snowdrops

Snowdrops can be the first flowers to open in the new year and grow happily under trees and shrubs. Look for Galanthus nivalis for a woodland style, and elegant G. ‘Magnet’ for flowers that dance in the breeze.

Winter jasmine

Winter jasmine

Winter jasmine (jasminum nudiflorum) is a scrambling plant with yellow star-shaped leaves that can be trained easily with wires or trellis as a climber. Perfect for archways or just scrambling over low walls.

Daffodils

daffodils-in-spring-bulbs-lawn-naturalising-how-to-yellow-flowers

Some daffodils come up so early they can bloom in winter. Look out for Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ from January onwards, and ‘February Gold’ that flowers slightly later.

Crocus

crocus-flowers-spring-bulb-in-lawn-naturalised-in-grass

Crocus flowers are a sign that winter is fading and spring is coming. Their upright, cup-shaped flowers look great in pots and borders, and poking up among the lawn.

Chionodoxa

Chionodoxa

Glory of the Snow can flower even when there is snow on the ground. Grow C. luciliae for star-shaped blue or pink flowers with white centres.

Daphne

Daphne

This shrub has intensely fragrant flowers in winter and early spring. Look for D. odora and D. bholua and grow near gates and doorways.

Clematis cirrhosa

clematis-cirrhosa-freckles-winter-flowering

Cirrhosa is a winter-flowering evergreen clematis. C. cirrhosa var. purparescens ‘Freckles’ flowers first with creamy bell-shaped flowers and speckled petals. Also try the Mallorcan C. cirrhosa var. Balearica.

Iris unguicularis

Iris unguicularis

Also known as the Algerian iris, these plants produce perfumed violet flowers with yellow and white patterns.

Skimmia japonica

Skimmia japonica

These are evergreen shrubs that produce panicles of creamy flowers and red berries. You need a male and female variety for berries – ask your supplier.

Sarcococca

Sarcococca

Sweet box is well-named. Its intense fragrance can be detected from across the garden. It produces tiny perfumed creamy flowers in winter followed by shiny black berries.

Even more winter garden colour ideas

Evergreens don’t have to be green! Look for unusual leaf colour like blue spruce, Juniper Blue Star or yellow and gold conifers. Frilly pink ornamental cabbages look great in containers while photinia and euonymous light up borders.

You can also try berrying shrubs like holly, cotoneaster and pyracantha.

Plus check out the best plants for spring, for a display from early spring right through to late spring.


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2018-10-25T14:15:16+00:00

8 Comments

  1. Julie October 9, 2017 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    These flowers all look beautiful, I have always been a sucker for heather to be honest. Thanks for a great article.

  2. Kate December 2, 2017 at 3:21 am - Reply

    Thanks for this. I’m going to look for some of these this week!

  3. Elisabeth April 19, 2018 at 11:21 am - Reply

    I really like the post, thanks. These are some really great options for a winter garden.

  4. Riya August 29, 2018 at 10:49 am - Reply

    I loved the simplicity of this article! Thanks so much for posting. Flowers are so beautiful.

  5. James August 30, 2018 at 2:25 am - Reply

    I really appreciate the writing in this piece. Thanks for the flower pictures, David.

  6. Ruell August 30, 2018 at 3:20 am - Reply

    Awesome! Does this also mean you can sow them in September?

    • Will August 30, 2018 at 3:22 pm - Reply

      Hi Ruell,
      Thanks for your comment. Not all of these can be sown in September unfortunately. Japanese Quince, Daphne and Winter aconites for example, must be sown around Spring. Crocus, heather and pansies can be sown in late September.
      I hope this helps!

  7. Julie September 25, 2018 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for the information. I was looking for something to put in a pot for some color during the winter months. I believe this has given me several very good Idea’s. It was also very easy to find. Thank you .

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