24 Colorful Plants to Keep in the Winter Garden

Introduction to Winter Gardening

Winter doesn’t have to mean a sad, brown garden. Plant your gardens carefully to have a colourful, exciting wintertime respite from the season. While hundreds of species die back in the winter months, thousands of others look good and even thrive during the coldest days and nights.

Benefits of Keeping Colorful Plants in the Winter Garden

Colour in your winter garden is enjoyable to see. It’s also an excellent way to support birds and other wildlife looking for food or seeds, and pollinators like bees and hoverflies if you plant flowers while also keeping up the activity of planting, mulching, weeding and other skills you have learned while gardening all year round. Plus, all the well-known mental health benefits are a great reason to try gardening and engaging in nature during winter.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Winter Plants

If you want to select plants for a winter garden and not waste your time and money, you need to find out your hardiness zone, how much light you have, and the soil condition. It is easier to let plants thrive over the winter if you select species well suited to your environment.

24 Colorful Plants Suitable for Winter Gardens

Evergreen Trees and Shrubs

Holly (Ilex)

  • Its shiny green leaves and red berries enliven up winter terrains.

Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)

  • This deciduous shrub bears yellow flowers on leafless leaves, a pleasant sight in the dead of winter.

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis)

  • When the witch hazel blooms in late winter or early spring, its spidery flowers smell as sweetly as citron blossoms in shades of yellow, orange or red.

Winter-flowering Perennials

Hellebore (Helleborus)

  • Hellebores, also called the Christmas rose, yield lovely white, pink, purple, and even green flowers.

Snowdrop (Galanthus)

  • These diminutive bulbs are usually the first plants to bloom in late winter, with nodding white flowers that announce the rebirth of spring.

Winter Aconite (Eranthis)

  • Winter aconites have bright yellow, cup-shaped flowers and green strappy leaves. They add much-appreciated cheer to the winter garden.

Winter-flowering Annuals

Pansies (Viola)

  • Colourful pansies are good companions for winter containers or borders. They retain their colour throughout the cold.

Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum)

  • Cyclamen are deciduous plants that produce pretty flowers in pink, red or white and can bring a touch of elegance to the winter garden.

Ornamental Kale (Brassica oleracea)

  • The often colourful and frilly leaves of ornamental kale add beauty to winter gardens and the table.


Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

  • This deciduous shrub produces clusters of bright red berries that linger through the winter and feed for birds.

Firethorn (Pyracantha)

  • Firethorn comes prized for its red, orange or yellow berries that come out in the autumn and will last until winter.

Beautyberry (Callicarpa)

  • She has been known to clothe herself in beautyberry, layering its clusters of brilliant purple berries onto the shrub’s branches when they appear in the winter.

Ornamental Grasses

Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis)

  • Upright and textural with its plume-like growth habit, feather reed grass can add interest and movement to a winter landscape.

Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca)

  • Blue fescue can be used as a neat clump of blue-green or blue-grey foliage for year-round interest, especially in winter.

Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa)

  • This ornamental grass has verdant or golden, arching foliage that softens winter gardens.

Winter-flowering Bulbs

Crocus (Crocus vernus)

  • Crocuses are some of the earliest bulbs to flower; their flowers carpet the ground in purple, yellow or white.

Snow Crocus (Crocus chrysanthus)

  • Snow crocuses are even earlier, thrusting up from April snow with their happy yellow, white or purple flowers.

Iris Reticulata (Iris reticulata)

  • These diminutive iris produce blooms of delicate blue, purple or yellow, the first flowers of spring to flower.

Winter Vegetables with Colorful Foliage

Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris)

  • Swiss chard has stems that can be red, pink, orange, yellow or white, adding colour and nutrition to the winter garden.

Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)

  • Kale leaves are frilled, a jazzy alternative colour to the palate of winter, green, purple or blue.

Red Mustard (Brassica juncea)

  • Red mustard: With deeply lobed leaves infused with purple or maroon, red mustard is a welcome addition to winter salads.

Maintenance Tips for Winter Gardens

Giving your winter garden a little extra moisture, especially during a dry spell or when the wind blows, will keep your garden lush and prevent you from ending up with a brown garden in January. Remove dead, brown and dried-up foliage or blossoms to minimise the chance of disease and open up space for new growth. You might consider spreading 2 inches (5cm) of mulch around garden plants to keep soil temperatures warm, retain moisture, and protect roots from freezing.


You can take your chances or take your winter colours into your own hands by choosing the right plants and looking after them properly. Then you can have the light, the colour and perhaps even the perfume you crave for a few least-forgotten months right outside.


  1. Can I plant these colourful winter plants in containers?
  • Yes, several of these plants are container winners, so you can have some vivid hues on the patio, balcony or porch.
  1. Do I need to protect these plants from frost?
  • Some winter plants can weather the frost, while others might appreciate some protection in extreme conditions; consider throwing frost cloth over vulnerable plants or placing containers in a sheltered spot.
  1. Will these plants attract wildlife to my garden?
  • Yes, lots of them indeed produce berries or flowers to attract birds, bees and other pollinators, thus increasing the biodiversity of your garden.
  1. Can I plant bulbs in the winter?
  • Bulbs are grown in autumn before the earth freezes, though you can also find ‘pre-chilled’ bulbs that can be planted in late winter to produce spring flowers.
  1. How often should I water my winter garden?
  • Watering will be dependent upon temperature, rainfall and soil type. Keep the soil soft and damp but never waterlogged, especially in dry or windy weather.