There is a wide variety of alternatives available from which to choose the finest winter plants for borders and containers. If you put in the time and effort, you can transform your outdoor environment throughout the winter months into one that is vibrant and interesting, despite the common perception that winter is a drab and colourless time in the garden.
Because there is such a wide range of plants that may provide seasonal interest to a garden – such as blooming evergreens, brilliant blazing steams, tactile tree barks, and colourful splashes of colour from winter-flowering bulbs – you should make sure that your ideas for a winter garden incorporate all of these types of plants.
The quantity of colour and the kinds of plants that are available to you will be affected, to some degree, by the region in which you reside. “Depending on how mild the local environment is during winter, some gardeners may be able to grow cool-season annuals throughout the winter months and far into the spring. This is dependent on how mild the local climate is during winter. According to Zolene Quindoy, who is in charge of horticulture at Yardzen, the winter colour season may only persist until the advent of freezing temperatures or significant snowfall in locations that experience winter weather that is cold and snowy.
Winter Outdoor Plants
Best Winter Outdoor Plants for pots
It is important to keep in mind that most plants have relatively slow growth during this time of year while choosing the finest winter plants for pots.
According to James, the best way to get rapid effect is to begin with adequately large plants and to not be afraid to pack them in more closely than is customary.
Growing winter plants in pots gives you total control over the kind of soil they are planted in as well as their location, and you can easily move the pots throughout the yard to accommodate different needs.
James also says, “Don’t forget to position containers where they’ll get as much light as possible.”
For more ideas, have a look at our tutorial on how to establish a container garden throughout the winter.
1 . Winter Aconites
Winter aconites are characterised by their bright yellow flowers that bloom throughout the months of January and February, despite their origin in wooded areas that are often shaded. The fact that they have such shallow roots makes them ideal for growing in containers, and they need very little care.
Place the container in a location that receives partial shade and plant in soil that is wet but has good drainage. You should plant them “in the green,” or shortly after they have flowered, similar to how snowdrops are best done, but you may also plant bulbs in the autumn if you want.
2 . Primroses
Primroses that bloom in the winter are an excellent choice for areas of the garden that get only partial sunlight since they are able to grow in this environment. According to Clapp, primroses provide brightness to gloomy regions that are coloured in tones of white, yellow, cream, and pinks.
Because they are perennials, they are able to withstand severe winters and will continue to spread from year to year when they have established a strong root system.
Primroses should ideally be planted in the early autumn; pick two or three kinds for a successional bloom that lasts from late autumn to early spring. The best planting time for primroses is in the early autumn. Some of the types, such as the Everlast, may continue to blossom for up to half a year.
Primroses do not like it when their roots are constantly submerged in water; thus, when planting them in pots, you should choose potting soil that drains properly.
3 . Pansies
Pansies, which belong to the viola family, are a staple plant for winter gardening. Simply said, I consider them to be the best winter plants for containers. According to Codey Stout, the head operations manager of TreeTriage, “with beautiful and colourful flowers that thrive in cool temperatures, you will have a cheerful display during the winter.”
Pansies will continue to blossom right up to the beginning of spring in periods of moderate weather. “Plant them en masse in containers with other traditional favourites, such as cyclamen, violas, polyanthus, and primrose,” suggests James as a way to get the most out of the appearance.
If you wait until the autumn to plant established seedlings in pots, you may expect them to be flourishing by the time winter rolls around.
According to Stout, the ideal placement for your pots of pansies is somewhere that receives early sunshine and where they can be moved to the shade in the afternoon to protect them from the heat of the sun.
They are resistant to cold and maintain their flowering throughout the winter in zones as low as 8. Plants are hardy up to Zone 6, and if care is taken to prevent the crowns from freezing – by covering them with a layer of mulch – these tough little plants will cheerfully begin flowering as soon as the earth warms up in the spring, as Zolene explains. Plants are hardy up to Zone .
4 . Camellias
Winter camellias are one of the first blossoms to burst through in the latter winter or early spring, and they grow extremely well in containers. Their brilliantly showy flowers are one of the reasons for this. On the other hand, if you want them to blossom even sooner, you could choose Camellia sasanqua kinds, which bloom throughout the autumn and winter months.
Find out how camellias may be grown in your garden. The plants thrive in acidic soil that drains well and are best planted in the autumn when they have the most time to build their root systems before the first frost of the season.
Once you see that your camellias have outgrown their pots, you will need to repot them every two to three years in new potting mix. Because they might suffer when exposed to direct sunlight, place them in an area that receives some partial shade.
In order to get the most out of these wonderful plants, it is essential to have knowledge of proper camellia pruning techniques.
5 . Cyclamen
Cyclamen, which may have flowers that are white, pink, or red, are great for offering a ray of sunshine in the yard during the darkest period of the year. They are also among the greatest plants to have around throughout the Christmas season.
Although they are capable of naturalising in the ground, they perform very well in containers and hanging baskets, and they may even be used into winter houseplant arrangements.
Plantswoman Sarah Raven has a special fondness for cyclamen coum because, in her words, “it’s almost as lovely in leaf through the autumn as it is in flower in early spring.” Cyclamen coum is an evergreen perennial.
“Along with early snowdrops and aconites, the miniature flowers can’t help but lift winter-dampened spirits,” and “the three together, cut and arranged in a small glass, is cheer-giving.” [Citation needed] “The miniature flowers can’t help but lift winter-damped spirits.”
You may start new cyclamen from tubers in the autumn, and they will begin blooming the following spring. To extend the amount of time that plants are able to produce flowers, place the containers where they will be shielded from persistent rain and remove faded blossoms.
Because they cannot tolerate having their feet wet, you must either plant them in pots or choose a planting location that has good drainage. Cyclamen thrive best in dappled sunlight; early exposure is ideal for them. According to Zolene Quindoy, who works at Yardzen, “some varieties have variegated foliage, and others have a very light fragrance.”
The Very Best Plants For Hedging During the Winter
Therefore, while designing a winter garden, it is important to develop a succession of interesting plant combinations using the finest winter plants that are suited to the circumstances in your hardiness zone. This will allow you to start enjoying your outdoor area throughout the whole year.
According to horticulture expert and author Matt James, “During the colder winter months, colour in the garden might be sparse, so every splash of it counts.” “Fortunately, there are a lot of opportunities to brighten up those cloudy days and improve the view from your house,” the author says.
In addition, Zolene Quindoy mentions that winter-blooming annuals are a well-liked choice for bringing colour to the environment.
When searching for the finest winter plants, it is also helpful to give a hand to nature by giving needed food for birds and pollinating insects as wildlife garden ideas. This may be done by offering a wildlife garden.
According to Jonny Norton, the head gardener of the National Trust’s Mottisfont estate, “many pollinating insects emerge earlier than usual due to our changing climate, so it is really important to offer them food from early-flowering shrubs and perennials, such as mahonias.” Mahonias are among the early-blooming shrubs and perennials. These, along with a great many other varieties of the greatest winter flowers, have the potential to serve as vital sources of food for pollinators.
Start your search for the finest winter plants for borders by selecting evergreen shrubs and trees. These will provide your garden with the vital structure it needs. According to James, “Many trees and shrubs have brilliant bark or colourful flowers, and during the winter they are at their best.”
Underplant trees with forest bulbs and hellebores, and think about blooming plants that will provide aroma to invigorate the senses. forest bulbs and hellebores are two examples.
1 . Begonia flowers
Begonias that are fibrous, often known as wax begonias, are among the most useful winter plants for use in borders. “Their blooms can be red, pink, or white, and there are varieties with green or deep bronze foliage,” explains Zolene. “There are also varieties with both green and deep bronze foliage.”
Frost is not something that plants can tolerate, and they can only survive the cold in USDA Zones 9-11. Begonias with fibrous leaves thrive in full sun in the majority of climes but do better with some afternoon shade in warmer regions. When exposed to direct sunlight, the leaf colour will seem more vibrant.
Be sure that you are familiar with how to overwinter begonias in order to retain their beautiful appearance throughout the winter.
2 . Heather
Heather is a plant that is sometimes underappreciated despite the significant role it performs in winter gardening. According to Clapp, “It injects colour that stands out against the seasonal browns and greys, or the fiery red winter stems contrasting with frosty or snowy backdrops.” “It stands out because it injects colour that stands out against the seasonal browns and greys.”
“By planting a variety of heathers in your garden, you can entice bees into your garden year round, benefit from evergreen ground cover, and enjoy the range of colours of both blooms and foliage as the seasons change,” says the author of this article.
The autumn or the first few weeks of spring are the optimum times to grow heather. Some kinds, such as Erica, are able to grow well in soil with a pH range ranging from neutral to alkaline, while others, such as Calluna, do best in acidic soil. Therefore, it is essential to determine the kind that you have.
3 . Hellebore flowers
Hellebores, which are also known as Christmas roses, are some of the greatest winter plants for protected gardens that have a large number of trees, since they need a place that is somewhat shaded.
According to Norton, hellebores are “highlights of winter gardens – look to the pure white helleborus niger and then the orientalis hybrids, with their many different colours and markings.” It is simple to learn how to cultivate hellebores, which are known as “highlights of winter gardens.”
In addition to their use as forest plants and the fact that bees and other pollinating insects like these low-growing plants, they also provide the much-required food that is in short supply at this period of the year.
According to Clapp, hellebores can survive in a wide variety of soils, but they thrive best in nutrient-dense, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Another option is to grow them on raised beds so that you can more readily enjoy their nodding blooms.
In order to keep hellebores in good condition, you should deadhead the blooms in the spring after they have finished blooming and remove any dead leaves in the winter.
4 .The Violas
Despite the fact that they are members of the same family, violas may be distinguished from pansies by their tendency to have smaller blooms. Nevertheless, violas and pansies are sometimes clubbed together when discussing the finest winter pansies.
According to Zolene, violas are one of the smallest possibilities, often standing between 6 and 8 inches tall. Because of this, they are an excellent choice for pathway borders, where they can be admired up close.
They may also be planted in large numbers to provide a striking display of colour, as an alternative. “Violas are also a good candidate for planting over bulbs because their fibrous roots are not aggressive and easily allow bulb foliage to poke through towards the soil surface,” she says. “Violas are a good candidate for planting over bulbs because of these characteristics.”
They are also able to be included into ideas for winter hanging baskets, which may be used to create vivid displays near entrances.
5 . Tinus Viburnum (Viburnum)
This evergreen shrub with its lustrous leaves is one of the greatest winter plants. It is a minimal maintenance plant that blooms with sweetly scented, pinkish-white winter flowers. According to gardening author Leigh Clapp, the plant grows best in a soil that is either clay or damp and enjoys partial shade.
It would be a wonderful idea to place this blooming shrub in the front garden so that guests might walk by its fragrant blossoms on their way into the house.
6 . The species Mahonia.
Depending on the variety, mahonia may function either at the rear of a border or as a ground cover in a winter garden. It creates a beautiful background for other plants in the winter garden. If you have areas of your garden that are more shady, you may use these plants to provide shade.
With its pinnately compound leaves, mahonia, which is an evergreen shrub, contributes both structure and colour throughout the year. The plant produces spikes of pleasantly scented blooms in the wintertime, which bees may then use as a source of food. These then wither away in the spring, to be succeeded by clusters of berries with a rich purple coloration in the autumn.
According to Clapp, mahonia thrives in shady or somewhat shady locations with well-drained or damp soils. “Cut it back after it flowers to keep it at a manageable size,” the instructions said.
7 . Roses of Sharon
According to Zolene, ‘Snapdragons provide the biggest variety of flower colours and heights, as variants have been developed to come in pastels as well as bright hues, and with flower spikes ranging from 6 inches to almost 3 feet tall.’ “Snapdragons offer the broadest range of flower colours and heights, as varieties have been produced to come in pastels as well as bright hues.
It is not difficult to figure out how to cultivate snapdragons, and these stalwarts of the sunny, cool-season border can withstand a moderate amount of cold. They are hardy up to USDA Zone 7. According to Zolene, “When freezing temperatures arrive, plants will benefit from a layer of mulch to protect the growing points on the crown, so growth can resume in the spring.”
8 . Dogwood tree
Dogwoods, which belong to the cornus plant family and are hardy deciduous shrubs, are known by their popular name. Dogwoods provide for an interesting focal point in gardens throughout the winter, when their leaves fall off and expose their colourful stems. In addition to that, they are among of the greatest fast-growing shrubs.
James affirms, “Dogwoods are absolutely breathtaking, particularly when planted in clusters.” Cornus ‘Flaviramea’ has stems that are a vibrant yellow-green colour, while Cornus ‘Winter Beauty’ has stems that are an orange-yellow colour. The ones from the Cornus ‘Siberica’ variety have a brilliant crimson colour.
‘Plant dogwood as an informal hedge and underplant with snowdrops,’ suggests Clapp, in order to create a magnificent contrast with other winter favourites.
Learn the proper time of year to trim dogwood trees so that they always look their best. Dogwood should have a thorough coppicing done in the early spring. According to James, “all you need to do to encourage vivid colour year after year is simply prune the shoots back hard to 8-12 inches from the ground.”
9 . The snowdrops
Snowdrops give winter gardens an air of enchantment, whether they are planted in borders or in drifts under trees. Snowdrops are milky white in colour.
According to Jonny Norton, snowdrops are an imperative need since they have the ability to raise one’s emotions like nothing else and serve as a reminder of the joys that spring will bring.
You should give the common species Galanthus nivalis the highest priority if you want your display to endure as long as possible, from the middle of winter all the way into April. To do this, choose many distinct snowdrop variations. According to Norton, “Over time it will self-seed and colonise, creating an even more spectacular snowy carpet.”
Make sure you are familiar with the process of planting snowdrops. The easiest approach to get snowdrops established is to plant the immature bulbs when they are still “in the green,” or during the springtime. However, the cost of planting bulbs in the autumn is far lower. According to Leigh Clapp, an expert in gardens who contributes to Period Living, “For a natural look, cast the bulbs and plant them where they fall.”
When combined with other plants that bloom in the winter, snowdrops provide the greatest results. According to Norton, combining snowdrops, winter aconites, and hellebores together would provide an exceptionally stunning winter scene.
10 . Cabbage in an Ornamental Form
Both decorative cabbages and kale are deserving additions to the list of the greatest winter plants, despite their unusual appearance.
“They are related to the edible crops of the same name, but have been bred for a compact, rosette habit and showy foliage,” adds Zolene. “The foliage can range from green to purple with white or rosy accents.”
‘Varieties with smooth leaves are often referred to as ornamental cabbage, whilst those with crinkled leaves and frilly edges are referred to as decorative kale. Due to the compact and regular nature of their shape, they lend themselves especially well to the creation of patterns or neat border rows.
Both varieties thrive when exposed to direct sunlight, although those growing in regions with hotter summers should give them some afternoon shade. The colour of the leaves is at its peak when the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and plants can withstand temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit without suffering any harm.
The number of plants that bloom throughout the winter is rather extensive. Flowering shrubs, bulbs, and annuals are the kind of plants that do the best over the winter. offers a wide variety of options for borders or containers.
In addition to the blooming shrubs mentioned above, there is also Hamamelis ‘Aphrodite,’ Sarcococca confusa, and Skimmia japonica. Other winter flowers include winter clematis, crocus, heuchera, and a great deal more.