Outdoor Winter Plants to Enjoy This Season

Outdoor Winter Plants to Enjoy This Season

Winter days in your garden can sometimes seem bleak without the colorful annuals and perennials that light up the spring and summer months. Thankfully, it's possible to spruce up your green spaces during this cold stretch. From winter shrubs to ornamental grasses, here are some outdoor winter plants that can bring new life to your garden.

Winter Shrubs

One of the best choices for winter landscaping is a winter shrub. You can choose from many varieties and types, including those that bear flowers. Winter-blooming shrubs flower each winter, leaving behind lush greenery the rest of the year to enhance your curb appeal. For example, gardens in milder regions can grow winter daphne, a small evergreen shrub that blooms delicately scented white and pink flowers in January or February.

Shrubs With Berries

Evergreen plants and shrubs that feature berries are famous for winter color. Much like winter-flowering shrubs, plants with berries add a pop of color during the coldest months and remain an enjoyable greenery throughout the rest of the year. 'Brandywine' viburnum, for example, features glossy green leaves and tiny white flowers throughout the spring and summer. As the autumn arrives, the leaves shift to a deep, wine red, and pink and blue berries emerge. Viburnum is a cold-hardy plant, so these berries can carry through much of the season in regions that experience relatively mild winters.

Ornamental Grasses

Grasses that stay above the snowy ground look particularly stunning when they catch the sun on their seed heads and conifers. Grasses come in different heights, colors and seed heads, so you can mix several in your landscape. Look for grasses taller than your average snow depth to get the best winter effect. The bright red of 'Purple Love Grass' eragrostis, for example, stands above the snowy ground and shines in the sun.

Winter-Blooming Flowers

Believe it or not, some varieties of winter-hardy flowers will bloom and thrive depending on your garden growing zone. Winter-hardy annuals, like pansies and 'Johnny Jump Up' violas, make great options for milder winter regions. Cold tolerant plants like the 'Brilliant Red' (Oriental) poppies are another resilient choice that actually relies on cold spells to germinate. Hellebore is a winter-blooming perennial that comes in a variety of hues, from pinks and purples to the more complex white and maroon petals of the 'Winter Jewels Painted Doubles' hellebore, which makes for a gorgeous showcase to your winter garden.

Bulbs

Bulbs are another great flower option for winter interest. If you live in hardiness zones 9-11, the bold fuchsia of the 'Hercules' amaryllis, for example, will add an eye-catching burst of color to your landscaping. The massive blooms can reach up to 8 inches across, with four to five giant blooms on each stem.

Leafy Greens

Your winter vegetable garden can play double duty and provide some color. Winter-hardy leafy greens, like kale, thrive through the cold temperatures and are available in ornamental varieties that can add color. 'Crane Pink Hybrid' ornamental kale, with its pink, rose-like center is a perfect example.

Trees

You may not have considered fruit as an option to add color to your winter landscape, but if you live in zones 9-11, it's an excellent choice that also provides produce. Citrus plants, like the 'Washington' navel orange citrus tree, offer evergreen foliage and fragrant flowers in the spring, but they really light up in fall and winter when the oranges ripen.

Dwarf varieties of evergreen trees, like the 'Dwarf Alberta' spruce, can add some greenery as hedging in zones 3-8.

Just because the days are short and cold doesn't mean you can't have some color in your garden during the winter. Outdoor winter plants can keep your green thumb working and your garden enjoyable all year round.

For more tips on caring for your garden in the cold season, check out Burpee's guide to preparing your garden for winter.

Written by Shahrzad Warkentin

Shahrzad Warkentin is a writer and seasoned gardener, with over 12 years of experience.  Besides her own home garden, she helps manage her kids' school garden.

January 19, 2022
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