Flowers that Bloom in Winter
Give your landscape a boost of color courtesy of flowers that bloom in winter. In much of the country, winter is the garden’s quiet season, and even a brief flourish of bloom is a welcome sight. In warmer regions, the list of flowers that bloom in winter embraces plants that can toss open blooms from December to spring.
Winter pansies are cold weather all-stars. These cheery winter blooming flowers can freeze solid and emerge from that state ready to grow and flower. Other bedding plant flowers that grow in winter include nemesia, snapdragon, sweet alyssum and flowering stock. Count on these frost-tolerant bloomers to bring color to winter landscapes in regions with warmer winters. In colder regions where winter keeps the landscape in a steady deep freeze, draft these flowers to fill fall containers and planting beds with strong color.
Lenten rose or Christmas rose (Helleborus) is a perennial flower that blooms in winter. Leathery, dark green leaves stand umbrella-like above winter mulch or snow. Most hybrids survive to Zone 5, but the hardy Helleborus niger withstands even Zone 3 winters. Lenten rose makes a perfect addition to a woodland garden or part shade border, blending artfully with ferns and sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum).
Deer and voles turn up their noses to Lenten roses, and flowers open in a rainbow of hues and forms. In warmer zones, expect blooms in January; in colder regions, it could be February to March. Don’t remove old leaves until blooms are ready to open. Those dead leaves provide winter protection to fragile flower buds.
There are a few bulbs that are winter blooming flowers. Dainty and delicate, snowdrops (Galanthus) are true spring harbingers. No bigger than a dandelion, they bravely push through snow and even ice to grace the garden with their dangling white bell blooms. These bulbs are hardy in Zones 3 to 7 and make their appearance as early as February in Zone 6.
Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) is another winter blooming flower that grows from a bulb. Like snowdrop, this tiny bulb bloomer often appears among late-winter snows, opening bright green leaves topped with cheery yellow blossoms. Plants top out at 6 inches tall. This bulb appears before crocus, typically in February in Zone 7. Winter aconite is hardy in Zones 3 to 7.
When placing flowers that bloom in winter in the landscape, focus on positioning them where you will see them. Think about the weather during your region’s winter. Except in the warmest zones, you’ll most likely spend the colder months indoors, so plant winter blooming flowers where you can easily see them from indoors.
Tuck annuals like winter pansies, sweet alyssum and nemesia into containers near entrances and on patios. Short bulb bloomers like snowdrops and winter aconite are a natural fit for planting beds along walkways. Taller perennials, like lenten rose, are also best viewed up close and personal. Plant them in beds where you can easily see them, such as on the way to the garage or near the door you use most.