Trees, shrubs, ground cover, climbers, bulbs — we’ve got your winter garden plants sorted!
Some winter garden plants are attractive for their leaf color. Some for their hardy flowers. Others stand out because of the color of their stems and branches. Or for their displays of catkins or berries.
We’ve picked some of the best from all of these groups for you — putting different types of winter garden plants together will really make your space stand out.
Winter garden plants include trees, shrubs, bulbs, climbing plants and low-growing ground covers.
We’ve ticked all these boxes for you in our roundup below, so all you have to do is choose your favorites. These are 30 of the best winter garden plants.
30 Winter Garden Plants
1. Christmas rose, Lenten rose, Hellebore
Botanical name: Helleborus
The glossy, dark green leaves of hellebores cover the ground beautifully. The flowers are white, pink or even plum-purple-green with golden stamens.
They are excellent sources of nectar for bees early in the year. The flowers can stay gently drooping on the plant for months as if preserved.
2. Winter-flowering honeysuckle
Botanical name: Lonicera fragrantissima
Honeysuckle has a beautiful scent; this winter version is no exception. Also known as sweetest honeysuckle.
Add some fragrance as well as color with this winter garden plant. It is an excellent climber that will cover a trellis or a wall.
Botanical name: Malus
If you have space for a crabapple tree, they are definitely worth it. You will get the winter color of the apples, which will stay hanging on the tree into the colder months.
They are also great for making crabapple jelly with. Leave a few on the tree for the colors though. Birds love them too.
4. Witch hazel
Botanical name: Hamamelis
A striking winter garden shrub. Nothing else looks quite like witch hazel. It has explosions of colorful red to orange and yellow streamer-like flowers on bare branches.
It will grow to 15 feet. On cold days the flowers curl themselves up.
Botanical name: Galanthus
One of the prettiest winter garden plants, snowdrops will appear before many other flowers. There are hundreds of different varieties; snowdrop collecting is quite a big thing. Galanthus nivalis is one of the best choices for pure simplicity and beauty.
6. Winter aconite
Botanical name: Eranthis
Sunny yellow flowers brighten up the coldest of gardens.
These buttercup-like blooms are a welcome sight in winter. Plant together with snowdrop bulbs in shaded or wooded areas; they should flower at the same time.
7. Tiny Buttons Stonecrop
Botanical name: Sedum hispanicum
Stonecrops are useful plants: drought-tolerant, great for ground cover and low-maintenance. Many are also hardy, like this variety, and look great in the winter garden.
Sedum hispanicum will develop into a beautiful blue-grey carpet with reddish-purple tinges.
Botanical name: Cornus
The vibrant red stems of the dogwood plant bring cheer to a dull day. They are perfect winter garden plants.
Combining colorful stems like these with the evergreen foliage and winter flowers of other plants makes an attractive display. Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ is a top choice.
9. Japanese camellia
Botanical name: Camellia japonica
These hardy evergreen shrubs produce gorgeous flowers from winter to spring. They are a welcome splash of color
in the darker months. Amazingly there are 30,000 different varieties of Japanese camellias.
Botanical name: Crocus tommasinianus for late winter and early spring flowers
Gorgeous cups of golden-orange stamens that come in striking purples, mauves, whites and yellows.
Crocuses always look best planted in large groups. Bees love them too because they provide nectar early in the year – they sometimes even sleep in crocus flowers. How cute is that?
11. Winter jasmine
Botanical name: Jasminum nudiflorum
Winter jasmine often blooms in January, its bright yellow star-shaped flowers cheering up cold winter days. The flowers appear before the leaves on long willow-like branches. This hardy shrub looks great growing over a wall.
12. American holly
Botanical name: Ilex opaca
Another winter stalwart, the red berries of holly are of course a favorite at Christmas for decorating houses. Holly can get to 30ft high by 20ft wide, but it is slow-growing – about 6 inches per year.
13. Stonecrop, fat hen, ice plant
Botanical name: Sedum spectabile, also known as Hylotelephium spectabile
Not technically a plant that flowers in the winter, but the seedheads are beautiful when left on the plants throughout the colder months. They look delightful in ice and snow.
The groups of hundreds of tiny flowers are arranged a bit like broccoli florets. A brilliant plant all year round.
14. Winter-flowering clematis
Botanical name: Clematis cirrhosa
An attractive climbing plant that flowers in late winter and early spring. The Balearica variety is a beautiful plant, the creamy-white flowers speckled with magenta.
The foliage is evergreen and turns purple and bronze as the temperature drops. Stunning winter garden plants.
15. Oregon grape
Botanical name: Mahonia
Mahonia blooms in winter, with arching stems of yellow flowers. It’s a wonderful shrub to look at at any time of the year, with its impressive draping purple fruits and evergreen foliage. It can reach 20ft x 20ft.
16. Pussy willow
Botanical name: Salix caprea
The pussy willow tree is an attractive late winter and early spring feature in the garden. You can grow it as a large shrub or let it develop into a tree. The lovely grey silky catkins turn to bright yellow as the pollen ripens.
17. Kale, ornamental cabbage
Botanical name: Brassica oleracea
The purple, blue and green hues of brassica leaves look fantastic in winter. Use them as a backdrop to yellow, purple and white winter garden plants and the colors will really start to pop.
18. Japanese pieris, Japanese andromeda
Botanical name: Pieris japonica
This evergreen shrub is good to look at all year round. Pieris japonica ‘Red Head’ has bright red leaves in the winter, turning to green as the white flowers emerge in the spring.
They look like lily of the valley flowers; Pieris is sometimes known as the lily of the valley shrub.
Botanical name: Ilex verticillata
Another of the Ilex family, winterberry has masses of bright red fruits in the colder months. This type of holly is deciduous, and the berries stand out on bare branches.
There are quite a few different varieties. ‘Winter Red’ is a popular choice.
20. Winter heath
Botanical name: Erica carnea
Low-growing evergreen plants, winter heaths are excellent for groundcover. There are pink, white, purple and red versions. Combine with crocuses, scillas and dwarf irises for an eye-catching winter display.
21. Cyclamen, Persian violet
Botanical name: Cyclamen coum
The hardy flowers of Cyclamen could survive cold temperatures. Planting groups of white and green snowdrops, bright yellow winter aconites and purple cyclamen will produce a fantastic display of winter garden plants.
Botanical name: Scilla
Alpine squill or Scilla bifolia is one of the earliest bulbs to appear in the garden. Scilla siberica is also a wise choice for a late winter display. The flowers are an intense blue.
23. Violet, Sweet violet
Botanical name: Viola odorata
Deep purple flowers poke their heads above pretty heart-shaped leaves; the flowers themselves smell gorgeous. There is a lot to like about violets. They appear in the garden from late winter in shady spots.
24. Winter pansy
Botanical name: Viola
Some pansies will flower all winter in mild climates. Viola ‘Celestial Midnight’ has striking deep purple, burgundy and yellow blooms on evergreen foliage.
25. Spring snowflake
Botanical name: Leucojum vernum
A snowdrop-like plant that appears at about the same time as Galanthus, the spring snowflake’s white bell-shaped flowers hang down from elegant green stems. As with many winter-flowering plants, they grow from bulbs.
26. Black chokeberry
Botanical name: Aronia melanocarpa
You could say this is a plant for all seasons. It looks great all year round. The purple-red foliage towards the end of the year is teamed with showy black berries which will stay on the plant well into winter.
Botanical name: Veronica umbrosa
Gorgeous bright blue flowers emerge in masses on this low-growing groundcover plant. In mild climates, they appear in very early spring. Choose ‘Georgia Blue’ for hardiness. Smothers weeds very well.
28. Dwarf iris
Botanical name: Iris reticulata
Groups of deep purple dwarf irises interspersed with winter aconites and snowdrops will brighten any late winter day. These irises grow to about 5 inches tall; there are many different varieties to choose from.
Botanical name: Euonymus europeaus
A striking shrub. One of the best winter garden plants. The foliage turns a deep red while the fruits are bright pink, bursting open to reveal stunning orange seeds. Spindle definitely makes a statement. It can grow to 10ft tall by 8ft wide.
Botanical name: Euonymus fortunei
A plant to grow for its foliage. Great for choking out weeds. The golden and green leaves will spread like a carpet and provide color in the winter. We love the purple wintercreeper, Euonymus fortunei ‘Colorata’.