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Plants That Bloom in Winter

Updated on January 07, 2017
The Dirt Farmer profile image

Jill volunteers at community gardens & learns about gardening through the MD Native Plant Society & MD Master Gardening Program.

Bulbs, herbaceous perennials, trees, shrubs—many plants bloom in winter. Here are a few to try in your garden.

Anemone blanda blooms from late winter into early spring.
Anemone blanda blooms from late winter into early spring. | Source
Spring snowflakes (Leucojum vernum) bloom in both winter & spring.
Spring snowflakes (Leucojum vernum) bloom in both winter & spring. | Source

Other Winter-Blooming Bulbs

  • Daffodil (Narcissus bulbocodium) Feb. to April
  • Dwarf Tulip (Tulipa humilis) Feb. to April
  • Giant Snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii) Feb. to May
  • Hardy Crocus (Crocus tommasinianus) Jan. to April
  • Iris reticulata, Feb. to May
  • Paper White Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus) Feb. to April
  • Scilla mischtschenkoana, Feb. to March
  • Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) Feb. to May
  • Spring Snowflake (Leucoum vernum) Jan. to March
  • Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) Jan. to March


WINTER-BLOOMING BULBS

Cyclamen coum, Scilla siberica & Anemone blanda

Plant winter flowering bulbs in late summer or early fall. Bulbs like hardy cyclamen, Siberian squill and Anemone blanda will give your garden visual interest from the early days of winter into spring.

Cyclamen

Cyclamen coum blooms in February and March, producing perky white, red or pink flowers on long, slender stems.

Hardy cyclamen prefers a dry, shady spot in the garden. Grown in clumps, it looks particularly fetching at the base of a tree or along a tall hedge.

Because cyclamen grows from corms rather than true bulbs, it should be planted not far below the soil surface, about 2 inches deep.

Siberian Squill

A relative of the English bluebell, Scilla siberica produces brilliant blue, bell-like blooms. Squill will flower for weeks at a time in February and March and grows particularly well in rock gardens and raised beds. White varieties are also available.

Squill will propagate on its own and should be divided every 4 or 5 years.

Anemone blanda

Anemone blanda is a low-growing plant that produces cheery, daisy-like flowers in white, blue and/or deep purple—just when the dreary winter landscape needs them most. It can begin blooming as early as January or as late as March.

Although quite hardy, anemone blanda doesn't mind a layer of mulch if the winter is particularly harsh.

Plant it in late summer or early fall. Anemone blanda performs best in moist, well-drained soil that contains plenty of organic matter.


Helleborus orientalis
Helleborus orientalis | Source

Other Winter Herbaceous Perennials

Bishop's Hat (Epimedium x warleyense)

Lungwort (Pulminaria)

Ornamental Vegetables (Brassica oleracea)

Stipa tenuissima

WINTER-BLOOMING HERBACEOUS PERENNIALS

Helleborus orientalis, Bergenia crassifolia & Physalis alkekengi 'franchetii'

Although herbaceous perennials ordinarily die down in winter, some are evergreen. Not only do the root systems of these plants remain alive from year to year, but their stems and leaves also live, even during the cold season.

Evergreen herbaceous perennials often have tough leaves with interesting textures and colors. Some, like Chinese lantern, elephant's ears and Lenten rose, produce winter flowers.

Lenten Rose

The Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) grows in compact clumps that produce long, hollow stems sturdy enough to survive the freezes and thaws of winter. These tough, thick stems in turn produce leathery leaves with dark green tops and undersides in a lighter shade of green.

Lenten rose flowers, as well as new leaves, emerge from the center of each clump. White, creamy yellow or pale green—sometimes dappled in light pink, the flower heads are shaped like shallow cups.

After blooming, Helleborus orientalis may be cut back. To propagate it, sow Lenten rose seeds in summer or divide the clumps as you would any herbaceous perennial in the spring or fall.

Source

Elephant's ears

Like the Lenten rose, Bergenia crassifolia grows in clumps. These clumps produce leathery leaves that turn yellow and orange as temperatures drop.

In late winter or early spring, elephant's ear plants produce deep pink flowers. Bell-shaped, they droop gracefully on their long, reddish stems.

Elephant's ears grows well in both full sun and partial shade. It makes a good ground cover and doesn't mind poor soil. In fact, its leaf color becomes more dramatic when it's planted in a full-sun location that has poor soil.

To propagate Bergenia crassifolia, divide it after it finishes blooming in May.

Chinese lantern

The Chinese lantern plant (Physalis alkekengi, var. franchetii) is a sprawling perennial with thin, green leaves. Its orange flowers, which dangle from light green stems, are shaped like Chinese lanterns and have a papery texture. Each contains a russet-colored, edible berry.

Established Chinese lantern plants grow from rhizomes, fleshy, fibrous roots, and they spread easily, performing well in all types of soil so long as it's somewhat moist.

In spring, after they've finished blooming, cut Chinese lantern plants to the ground. To divide them, dig up and separate the rhizomes as you would those of an iris, slicing off new "bulbs" with a sharp knife and discarding the old. Plant the young rhizomes close to the surface of the soil.

Ornamental cabbage, kale, cauliflower & other members of the Brassica oleracea family produce beautiful, tough leaves with wonderful texture & bold colors perfectly suited to the winter garden.
Ornamental cabbage, kale, cauliflower & other members of the Brassica oleracea family produce beautiful, tough leaves with wonderful texture & bold colors perfectly suited to the winter garden. | Source

WINTER-BLOOMING SHRUBS & TREES

Chimonanthus praecox, Cornus mas & Elaeagnus pungens

Many trees and shrubs are known for the beauty of their barks or their graceful shapes, both which lend interest to the garden in winter. Some, however, provide more than just structure and a bit of color: they produce flowers.

Wintersweet flowers in winter, producing lightly fragranced yellow blooms.
Wintersweet flowers in winter, producing lightly fragranced yellow blooms. | Source

Wintersweet

A winter-flowering shrub, wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) produces waxy yellow flowers with purple centers from midwinter into spring.

Wintersweet's flowers are not only ornamental. They have a lovely fragrance that's both light and spicy.

Chimonanthus praecox prefers rich, well-drained soil and full sun. It can grow up 12-feet high and 10-feet wide. Like viburnum, it has an upright growth habit and is easy to propagate through layering.

Cornelian cherry

The Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) can be grown as a large shrub or pruned into a small tree. It can reach heights of up to 15 feet and can grow to be about as wide.

In winter, its yellow flower clusters unfurl, releasing a sweet fragrance.

A carefree plant, Cornus mas grows well in most soils and requires little pruning if grown as a shrub. Plant it in a full-sun location for best results.

Other Winter-Blooming Trees/Shrubs

Heather (Erica + darleyensis)

Forsythia giraldiana

Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima)

Sarcococca sp.

Viburnum farreri & V. foetens

Viburnum tinus sp.

Elaeagnus pungens

Elaeagnus pungens is another hardy shrub that produces scented winter flowers. Unlike the Cornelian cherry tree and wintersweet, its blossoms are white.

There are many cultivars of Elaeagnus, and often they're grown more for their attractive leaves than for their winter flowers. E.p. 'Maculata,' for instance, has deep green leaves with bright gold centers.

© 2012 Jill Spencer

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    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi sgbrown! This year our anemone blanda was the first to bloom. Now they're peeping through snow--along with everything else! Hope you enjoy growing some of these plants. It's nice to see at least a few blooms even in the winter. Thanks for the votes, etc. --Jill

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Awesome hub! I love growing flowers and colorful plants. By planting some of your suggestions here, I can add color to my flower beds for a much longer period of time. I am pinning this for future reference and voting it up, useful and interesting. Great job! :)

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi Enelle. Although it may be too late for some bulbs, so long as the ground isn't frozen & a frost/freeze isn't impending, you can still plant hardy winter-blooming perennials. Of course, you may live in a very cold zone! Nice to hear from you. All the best, Jill

    • Enelle Lamb profile image

      Enelle Lamb 4 years ago from Canada's 'California'

      Sure wish I had found this hub earlier...too late to plant now :( but I will bookmark it for planting next year ;)

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi Kristine! Having lived in apartments for years & years, I know how you feel. To finally have a yard to design & care for is wonderful. (: Enjoy yourself! And thanks for reading. --Jill

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      Donna Kristine 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      This is a wonderful Hub! Your photos are fabulous. Now that I own a home I am learning to beautify it from the outside, and your Hub has given me more inspiration to do it even more.

      Blessings

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      @ ComfortB -- Appreciate the votes and the congrats. Getting HOTD is awesome! Thanks for your kind words, Jill

      Hi Peggy W. Good to hear from you! There's a caladium that's called elephant ears that some people, but not I, unfortunately, grow here in MD successfully. To me the black one is absolutely stunning. The bergenia is hardier, although perhaps not as striking. I bet your cyclamen are gorgeous. They're among my favorites, and I'll never understand why more landscapers don't use them. Nowadays, they seem to be more popular as temp. houseplants. Thanks for stopping by! --Jill

      @ tiffany delite -- I'm a flower lover, too. They really lift the spirits, don't they? Glad you stopped by. (: Take care, Jill

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      Simply beautiful! Love the collections. Love the images. Great hub. Voted up and useful, and congrats on winning the HOTD award!

    • tiffany delite profile image

      tiffany delite 4 years ago from united states

      a very informative hub with some absolutely gorgeous pictures! i love flowers, especially fresh flowers, so much. i sometimes buy some for myself just so i can have a fresh vase of flowers on the table. thank you so much for this hub...blessings!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Congrats on your HOTD award! Timely subject and I liked learning about a few different plants of which I was unfamiliar. Elephant ears grow year round where we live and I am looking forward to more cyclamen blooms in our garden this year from ones planted last year. Up and useful votes + sharing. Thanks!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi adrienne2. Thanks for your kind words & encouragement. Appreciate it! Take care, Jill

    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 4 years ago from Atlanta

      Hi Dirt Farmer, Your article on plants that bloom in winter is amazing. I never really stop to think about any plants that bloom in the winter. They are truly beautiful, the pictures are spectacular. Your article is very educational. Keep on hubbing my friend : )

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi Londonlady. You're father sounds like one charming man. (: Thanks for commenting. Take care, Jill

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi Londonlady. You're father sounds like one charming man. (: Thanks for commenting. Take care, Jill

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi bellartdesigns. It is amazing how many plants actually do bloom in winter--although usually the blooms aren't all that showy. Thanks for sharing the hub with your friends.

    • Londonlady profile image

      Laura Writes 4 years ago

      The Spring snowflakes are the prettiest smelling flowers! As a tradition, my dad always goes out and collects a bunch of wild ones and gives them to my mother right as they bloom. They are gorgeous flowers. Really nice hub, I appreciated the photographs.

    • bellartdesigns profile image

      bellartdesigns 4 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      Congrats! I live in Charleston, SC, and my friends LOVE the fact that ornamental cabbage grows here. I have sent your hub to a few who reside in Annapolis, MD, so they can see that there are many other choices. Nice hub!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi DzyMsLizzy! Do gophers eat narcissus bulbs? I didn't think anything at those! Will have to do some research. It would be a shame if you couldn't grow any bulbs at all! Thanks for commenting! It's always nice to hear from you. --Jill

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Beautiful HOTD The photos are stunning-the blue is a real eye catcher. I like the names of some of these flowers and winter plants as well: Elephant's ears, Lenten Rose, Spring Snowdrop, Chinese Lantern, and the Wintersweet. Very uplifting on this dark, rainy day. Great job, congratulations. Rated up/U/I/A/B sharing.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Congrats on HOTD! A very comprehensive article indeed!

      I think I'd have to plant in plant pots or other containers, due to the fact that we have ROBO-gophers here, and the bulbs and corms would only become a tasty treat for them!

      I don't know if they would go for the other plants or not. "Knock wood," we had no gopher problems in our vegetable garden....(say that in a whisper, please!)

      With the way the weather has been so crazy the last year or two: hot/cold/hot again--the plants are confused. Our Hydrangea, which should now be going to sleep, and the leaves starting to turn and fall, is instead putting out new leaves, and trying to bloom--and here it is, late October!

      I'm bookmarking this Hub, though. Voted up, useful, interesting, and awesome, for your gorgeous photos!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi StephanieBCrosby! Happy to be of service! (: Hope you find a few winter bloomers to grow in your landscape. Happy gardening, Jill

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      @ davenmidtown -- Nice to hear from you--and thanks! It's always awesome to have a HOTD. I've been sowing and resowing vegetables in the flowerbeds (radishes and turnips) mostly just for visual interest, although we have been harvesting, too. It's nice to see the spring green color of sprouts in the fall. Take it easy, Jill

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 4 years ago from New Jersey

      I am sure glad someone else did all the research! I always wanted to find an easy way to keep color in the garden year round. But I never got around to finding enough plants that I like to make this possible. So thanks. Very useful, beautiful and interesting.

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 4 years ago from Sacramento, California

      TDF: Well done, well written and a very strikingly beautiful hub. The photographs are amazing as always!!! I am glad you wrote this hub because it reminds people that there is more to be grown in a garden then just summer vegetables! Awesome! Congratulations on HOTD!!!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Thanks, Glimmer Twin Fan! It's a real honor to have a HOTD. (:

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Congrats on your HOTD Jill! Much deserved on another beautiful hub. I love the Hellebores so much. The are so gentle looking to me.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Thanks, Steph! Appreciate it.

      healthwealthmusic--Winter blooms really are a mood elevator--pretty signs of hope when it's cold outside. Take care! Jill

    • healthwealthmusic profile image

      Ruth R. Martin 4 years ago from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York

      I have not tried any winter flowering plants... these are beautiful! I tend to be a bear and hibernate as much as possible during winter cause I don't like the cold. Seeing a colorful flower outside my window during winter might help!

    • StephSev108 profile image

      Stephanie Marie Severson 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Great info! Congrats on hub of the day!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi mary615--Yep, you've got to have a winter in order to grow winter bloomers. They like & need that cold! Still, I'm sure you have lots of gorgeous tropicals to enjoy down there in SF. I'd love to be able to grow poinsettias in our flowerbeds. Have a good one! --Jill

      @ Your Cousins. I love the kale, too, and have set out both red and green this year. Because our winters are fairly mild here, it will look good for 2-3 years-- if I remember to pinch it so that it doesn't bolt. Good luck & happy gardening! --Jill

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi Nettlemere. Yes, I enjoyed your hub, "Plants That Grow in Walls." Lovely articles with great pictures. If only we had a wall, or even a stone path, I'd try it. Maybe some day! Thanks for stopping by.

      @ geetbhim-- Appreciate it! Thank you. (: --Jill

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Thanks so much for your good thoughts, Pavlo. Always nice to hear from you. (: Jill

      CZCZCZ! When I first started planting flowers for winter, I placed them in spots we could see when we looked out our windows. Seeing a touch of color and life when everything else is so drear--a real mood lifter! Take care, Jill

    • Your Cousins profile image

      Your Cousins 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I planted Narcissus bulbs for the first time last year and I was so happy with the results. I would love to try the kale. Voted up and useful.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I live in S. Florida, and our weather is so mild, I can grow many flowering plants in the winter. Some of the beauties you write about won't grow here; it is too warm.

      Great Hub with good info. I voted it up, etc.

      Congrats of winning the HOTD!

    • geetbhim profile image

      sangeeta verma 4 years ago from Ludhiana India

      Hi Dirt farmer!

      Congrats! for the hub of the day. Beautiful winter flower enjoy reading this useful article and awesome photos. Thanks for sharing.

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      It's always nice to have a bit of colour where possible in the garden in winter. My dad has recently had success with winter flowering wall flowers, smaller and not as showy as ordinary ones, but welcome none the less.

      lovely hub and well deserved HOTD.

    • CZCZCZ profile image

      CZCZCZ 4 years ago from Oregon

      Excellent article about plants that bloom in winter. As I look outside and see the deluge of rain that we are getting in the Pacific north west as winter is fast upon us, it is hard to think about blooming plants, but this was an interesting hub and congrats on getting hub of the day.

    • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

      Pavlo Badovskyi 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

      Congrats with Hub of the Day reward!! your hub deserves it!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Thanks, Eddy. Hope you have a good weekend, too. We're here waiting on a big storm to hit, although it has been downgraded from a hurricane. Still, it looks to be a rainy weekend and a rainy week ahead. Thanks for commenting! --Jill

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      A brilliant hub and thank you for sharing.

      Enjoy your weekend.

      Eddy.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi WannaB Writer--Glad the hub will be of use. I realize I left out flowering vines and am planning to add another section. Thanks for the feedback! Happy gardening, (: Jill

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      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I'm in the process of planning my winter and spring blooms now. So this is timely. Voted up.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi GoodLady. Indeed, there is something uncannily awe-inspiring about the blooms of winter. They look so tender, so fragile, yet they persist under harsh conditions like a miracle. Nice to hear from you. --Jill

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      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      What a beautiful hub. My favorite winter flower is and always has been the snowdrop. When I moved into my new house once years ago, in early January, my sister and I went into the woods of Herefordshire (where we both lived) and we dug up snowdrops and planted them by my door. Every year, in the snow and cold and the dark days they came out and were just so tender and pretty and loving.

      Nice hub and pictures. Voting. Pinning too.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hey Carol! Hope you do paint a few. You could do trompe l'oeil across a desk (to go along with your decoupaged one!) Take it easy, Jill

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Faith Reaper--I always think winter and early spring bulbs look too beautiful to be real, especially anemone blanda and crocus. Good to hear from you! Thanks for stopping by. --Jill

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi Annabelle Tyler! I'm a big fan of ornamental vegetables, too. They're real beauties!

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      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      What often draws me to your hub are your gorgeous photos. I am getting my paint brush out and going to attempt painting one of these beauties. I am bookmarking for when the planting bug hits. Voted UP.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Stunningly beautiful. These are the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen, and they grow in the winter----amazing. This is such a great hub, very insightful and full of beauty. Voted Way Up, except funny.

      In His Love, Faith Reaper

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      Annabelle Tyler 4 years ago

      Flowering kale/cabbage is such a beautiful addition to a fall or early spring garden. Great article!

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