Top 10 Winter Plants

Winter gardens don't have to be boring. Choose winter plants like these to add texture and life!

Just because temperatures drop off late in the year, it doesn’t mean your garden has to follow suit. With these ten striking winter plants, it can still boast texture and hints of color, even during those cold, dreary days.

Coneflower

Coneflower

Echinacea spp.,Zones 3 to 9

This native plant attracts attention from summer till the next spring. Plant groups in a sunny space for maximum impact and put off deadheading until the snow melts. Because a coneflower’s prickly seedpod is so substantial, a bunch of them will add a big architectural element to any winter garden.

Andrea Jones / Alamy
Heather

Heather

Calluna vulgaris, Zones 5 to 7

While heather is a celebrated plant throughout Europe, it’s often forgotten here in North America. This versatile flower boasts color during every season. From the little florets in summer and autumn to gorgeous foliage in winter, this beauty makes a strong impact in any garden with acidic soil. In locations where snowfall is light, insulate heather with mulch and pine branches.

Bon Appetit / Alamy
Redtwig Dogwood

Redtwig Dogwood

Cornus alba, Zones 2 to 8

Here’s a very appealing, loosely arching shrub that grows quickly. The glossy green leaves turn maroon or orange by fall, and the vivid red twigs and whitish-blue fruit make for a colorful  cool-season show. This dogwood works well in a mixed-shrub border. It’s easygoing but prefers somewhat moist soil, and does fine in sun or partial shade.

Chris Hansen
Hellebore

Hellebore

Helleborus, Zones 4 to 9

No cold-weather garden is complete without hellebore’s lovely cup-shaped blossoms. With numerous colors, and heights ranging from just 2 inches to 2 feet, this distinctive bloomer will enhance any garden, although it may be difficult to choose just one variety. You’ll probably enjoy this moisture- and shade-loving plant so much that you’ll wish it bloomed year-round.

RDA-GID
Italian Arum

Italian Arum

Arum italicum, Zones 6 to 9

This Mediterranean native sends up red and green berry stalks and broad, arrow-shaped leaves marked with green veins in fall. The foliage remains evergreen in milder climates, adding a pop of color to shady spots. Arum is an easygoing plant, perfect for novice gardeners.

W Atlee Burpee & Co.
Johnny-Jump-Up

Johnny-Jump-Up

Viola tricolor, Zones 3 to 9

This old-fashioned classic produces a plethora of charming yellow, blue, violet and white flowers. Seeds planted the previous spring will bloom in fall and often hang on through winter. Johnny-jump-up thrives in containers, so if you live in a cooler climate, sow it in a planter and bring it inside when the temperatures plummet. You’ll be able to enjoy the colorful display even while there’s a blizzard raging outside.

Renee Blake
Sedum

Sedum

Sedum spp., Zones 3 to 10

Long after frost has dulled sedum’s vibrant colors, many varieties’ flower heads add to winter gardens. You don’t have to cut back the flowers or foliage until early spring, so this flower can add interest to a garden all winter long.

Snowdrop

Snowdrop

Galanthus, Zones 3 to 9

When it pops up in late winter, snowdrop’s bright-green leaves send the message loud and clear that spring really is on its way. The snowdrop requires virtually no maintenance and spreads readily. For a larger collection of these 4- to 6-inch plants, simply lift and divide bulbs after they bloom, before the foliage dies back. Snowdrop is especially attractive scattered throughout naturalized settings and under deciduous trees and shrubs.

RDA-GID
Sweet Flag

Sweet Flag

Acorus calamus ‘Variegatus’,Zones 7 to 11

Grown in wet areas for its grass-like, aromatic foliage, sweet flag has a sometimes wrinkly texture and can reach about 5 feet tall. The leaves are strongly variegated with creamy white bands, making it a fun accent in a winter garden alongside a pond.

RDA-GID
Winter Heath

Winter Heath

Erica carnea, Zones 5 to 7

Through most of winter and into early spring, this reliable, low-growing plant puts on an attractive show of small, urn-shaped purple-pink flowers. Acidic soil is a must.

Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find her reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.