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10 Winter Flowers That Bloom in the Cold

10 Winter Flowers That Bloom in the Cold

By Jane Purnell, Lawn Love
Photographs courtesy of Lawn Love

Not every plant in your yard needs to lose its petals and foliage when winter comes. Bright reds, soft pinks, sunny yellows –– these colors can still pepper your lawn, even when there’s snow. You just need winter flowers that bloom in the cold.

Many plants love cooler temperatures, and they don’t hesitate to take advantage of winter’s pollinators. Plants like black-eyed Susans and lavender won’t be making an appearance in winter. They prefer the warm weather of summer.

Now that you’ve winterized your lawn, your landscape needn’t look dreary, gray, and melancholy.

Here are 10 winter flowers that bloom in the cold:

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1. Crocus

  • Common name: Crocus
  • Plant type: Perennial bulb
  • Bloom time: Flowers appear in autumn, winter, or spring

It’s normal to see these white, yellow, or purple flowers peeping their tiny petals out of the snow. Crocuses have excellent cold-weather tolerance, and a chilly frost or snowfall won’t wipe them out.

Because they remain so close to the ground, the warm soil temperatures help protect these mighty flowers. The soil also ensures the underground bulb survives any freeze that happens to kill the blooming crocus.

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2. Camellia

  • Common names: Sasanqua, japonica, or rose of winter
  • Plant type: Evergreen shrub or small tree
  • Bloom time: Sasanquas bloom from mid-fall to early winter; japonicas bloom from mid-winter to mid-spring

Camellias are famous for their magnificent blooms. These evergreen shrubs feature thick, serrated, and glossy leaves throughout the year, and surprise us with their breathtaking flowers as temperatures drop. These shrubs can grow between 6 to 15 feet tall, making them quite the spectacle in your winter wonderland.

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3. Snowdrop

  • Common name: Galanthus
  • Plant type: Perennial bulb
  • Bloom time: Fall, winter, and spring

An early sign of spring, snowdrops are typically the first among many winter bloomers to burst through the earth’s soil. These dainty flowers create a striking, dense bloom that multiplies through the spreading bulbs. Keep in mind: These plants are toxic to humans and pets.

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4. Winter Jasmine

  • Common name: Winter jasmine
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Bloom time: Winter

Beat the winter gloom with budding winter jasmine. These shrubs burst with bright yellow flowers in winter and are favored by gardeners for their low-maintenance care.

While most jasmine flowers feature beautiful scents, you won’t be smelling winter jasmine anytime soon. Unlike the rest of their family, winter jasmines aren’t fragrant.

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5. Winter Aconite

  • Common name: Winter aconite
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Bloom time: Winter

Members of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae), winter aconite’s tiny yellow spots will remind anyone with cabin fever that warmer days are just ahead. Winter aconites love the warm sun so much they only open when the sun is bright and shining.

On dreary, overcast days, expect these little blossoms to close up. Though only four inches tall, they’ll make an impression on your landscape, as winter aconite spreads year after year.

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Photograph by David J. Stang, CC BY-SA 4.0

6. Higan Cherry

  • Common names: Rosebud cherry, spring cherry, winter-flowering cherry, weeping Higan cherry
  • Plant type: Ornamental tree
  • Bloom time: Late winter to early spring

Higan cherry trees add a lovely, charming spot of color during a frigid winter. Admire their soft pink petals contrasting against the tree’s dark bark and look forward to their full flowering in the spring. Nothing quite compares to the miraculous blooms of cherry blossoms to transition us from a long winter to sunnier spring days.

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7. Hellebore

  • Common names: Winter rose, Lenten rose, and Christmas rose
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Bloom time: Winter and spring

If your shade garden is looking a little lonely in the wintertime, grow shade-loving hellebores. These wintery blooms are long-lasting and fragrant and aren’t a favorite of deer and voles.

No need to worry about their little petals getting swallowed up and taken away from the beautiful winter view. Just don’t let your pets and small children eat these pretty flowers as the plant is poisonous.

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8. Witch Hazel

  • Common names: Witch hazel
  • Plant type: Deciduous shrub or small tree
  • Bloom time: Fall, winter, and spring

Witch hazel is popular for its low-maintenance, attractively textured blooms, medicinal and cosmetic properties, and high resistance to pests and disease. Its sweet fragrance cuts through the crisp cold air, giving your nose quite the delight as you step outdoors.

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9. Pussy Willow

  • Common names: Pussy willow
  • Plant type: Deciduous shrub or small tree
  • Bloom time: End of winter through spring

The soft tufts growing along your pussy willow may not look like flowers at all, and they don’t have bright colors or a beautiful scent. But these little fuzzy nubs are flowers just before they fully bloom.

The nubs, famous for their cat paw resemblance, signal spring is just around the corner. Once spring rolls around, the pussy willow enters full bloom and creates petalless flowers called catkins.

As they bring us closer to spring and feel soft against our frozen fingertips, pussy willows also make for great seasonal decoration. Snip a few of the fuzziest branches, place them in a vase inside, and you may even get to see them bloom.

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10. Mahonia

  • Common names: Mahonia
  • Plant type: Evergreen shrub
  • Bloom time: Winter and spring

This evergreen shrub will burst with bright yellow flowers, renewing your landscape and bringing joy to the changing seasons.

With a fabulous explosion of yellow contrasted against dark green leaves and white snow, you won’t be in much of a hurry for summer to get here.

Stop to Smell the Winter Flowers

There’s no need to let the joys of sunny weather and beautiful gardens escape in winter. Winterize your garden so bare trees and the frozen earth don’t take the spring out of your step.

When to Call a Gardening Professional

Call a professional gardener near you if you need assistance with landscaping design, installation, or maintenance.

When you want the perfect wintery landscape in your backyard, sometimes you need the advice of a professional. A gardener can help choose flower arrangements that best accentuate your yard, and they can determine where these flowers will flourish.

A professional gardener can help maintain your winter flowers for you so you can stay inside where it’s warm and enjoy a hot chocolate.


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