7 Plants For Winter Color

When it is winter it does not mean that you have to do away with color in your garden.  There are many flowers, shrubs, and trees you can grow to get a pop of color in your garden.  Granted some plants need to be planted in the fall, so if you did not get to do it this year, be sure to add it to your gardening plans for the coming year. 

Here are our top picks of plants to add to your garden to get some color in cooler temperatures:


Camellia is a beautiful flowering evergreen shrub, which has a long blooming season.  They are very popular in the southern part of the US.  This shrub is planted in either the spring or fall.  Depending on the variety you plant, you can enjoy flowers from late fall to mid-spring.   Plant Camellias in moist well-drained soil that is preferable acidic; once established the shrub is drought tolerant.  They prefer to be in partial sun to shade. The pretty flowers are available in white, coral, shades of pink or red and a variety of color combinations. The flowers come in different shapes with some resembling anemones.  There are also single, semi-double, formal double, rose-like double and peony look blooms. This shrub lasts a long time, some living for more than 100 years.  Hardiness zones 6-10.

Holly Bush

Holly Bushes go back to ancient times where they were used for decorative and ceremonial purposes.  These plants have pretty dark green leaves with prickly edges.  Hollies can grow from 1 foot to over 70 feet.  The plant produces pretty berries (usually red), which are not edible for people but help sustain birds and small mammals in the winter after they have gone through a freeze and thaw process.  In order to produce berries, you will need a male and a female holly plant. The female is the only one to produce berries. In order to produce berries, the female plant needs to be pollinated from a bee, which carries pollen from a male holly plant. I remember my father, mentioning this to me as we had 2 holly bushes in our backyard, which grew quite large. These plants like full sun and well-drained acidic soil. To encourage leaf production, prune the plants in late summer through the fall. Hardiness zones 3-11.

Japanese Maple

My brother has one of these trees in front of his house and it is striking.  There are hundreds of varieties of this tree, which is known for its leaf shape and weeping branches.  As its name suggests the Japanese maple is native to Japan but it is also found in other parts of Asia including Korea, China, and southeastern Russia. Their compact shape, weeping and trailing habit and the ease with which they are cultivated make them a popular choice in many gardens. It grows best in partly sunny conditions and is tolerant of a variety of soil conditions. Its leaves are green to red or purple and if you’re really ambitious you can try to make a bonsai out of them. Most Japanese Maples do well in hardiness zones 5-8.

Lenten Roses

Lenten roses (hellebores) are late winter – early spring flowering perennials and belong to the buttercup family of flowers and are not actually roses.  The rose-like flowers are found in shades of green, ivory, pink, purple, and red. The flowers are found with single and double blooms. It is a shade-loving perennial and has evergreen foliage.  The plants grow approximately 12 inches high by 18 inches wide.  In late winter, flower buds begin to emerge above the foliage and then 1-3 inch flowers unfold.  These pretty flowers can be used in a winter wedding bouquet. The plants self-sow easily and are low-maintenance. Hardiness zones 4-9.

Ornamental Cabbages and Kales

Ornamental cabbage and kale; also known as “flowering” cabbage and kale are very popular annual winter plants. While they are edible, they have a bitter taste and are mainly used as a garnish.  The large rosette-shaped plants come in shades of green, pink, purple, red, and white add color during a dull time of year.  These plants are a nice replacement to summer annuals. Ornamental cabbage and kale can grow approximately one foot wide and 15 inches tall. They lend a completely different texture to a winter landscape bed. Once the plants are toughened by cooler night temperatures they can survive most cold winters.


Snowdrops are one of the first flowers to bloom early in the year and they are also known as Galanthus.  These tiny white flowers hang down like a “drop” prior to opening. These flowers are grown from bulbs and they prefer cold to moderate winters. If you live in Florida or Southern California, they will not grow.  These small bulbs are deer and rabbit resistant.  Pick a site with moist but well-drained soil to plant them. They will do well with the sun or partial shade such as under a tree or shrub. Even the shady side of your house would work. Snowdrops return reliably year after year. Make sure to plant the bulbs during fall to give them the chilling period they need to bloom.  This plant is poisonous for humans, cats, and dogs.  Hardiness zones 3-9.

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is a large shrub or small tree with fall blooms.  The fragrant yellow flowers appear in late winter to early spring.  The plant has attractive foliage in all growing seasons with bright green leaves in the spring followed by striking gold foliage in the fall which changes to a yellowish-orange.  The tree prefers moist soils but is tolerant of a variety of conditions.  Witch hazel is a unique plant as the flowers, ripe fruit, and next year’s foliage buds appear at the same time. The plant does best in full sun or partial shade and can grow 15 to 30 feet high with a similar width. It is also low-maintenance. Hardiness zones 4-8.

Let us know your favorite winter plants that add color to your garden in the winter.

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