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Winter Interest Plants Add Color and Beauty to Your Yard

Eight bold winter interest plants that are sure to provide a wonderland of color, form and beauty to your landscape.

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winter interest plants, A waxwing sits on a mountain ash as the snow falls.Shutterstock / Leonid Ikan

Winter Interest Plants: Mountain Ash

These winter interest plants are bursting with beauty. Red-orange berry clusters cling through winter and provide much-needed color against a gray sky. In fall, enjoy fernlike leaves that turn yellow to red before dropping. This native plant is tolerant of strong winds and serves as a vital food source for birds, especially hungry cedar and Bohemian waxwings.

A close-up shot of cotoneaster berries and leaves covered in a layer of frost.Getty Images / Douglas_Freer


Bursting with bright red berries that last through winter, this deer resistant shrub thrives in cold, windy areas and withstands damage from salt spray. Use it to edge driveways or line retaining walls. With several species available, the options are endless.

Learn how to create winter shelter for birds.

winter interest plants, A winter garden with boxwood shrubs and a rustic shed.Getty Images / brytta


The workhorse of the winter garden, boxwood adds color and structure. Its natural form is pretty, or you can prune it into a flat hedge or round orb in spring. It also grows in containers and is drought tolerant. Winter Gem is a reliable beauty to consider.

Find out the best ways to cover and protect winter shrubs.

Snowy ornamental grass.ohrahhr/Getty Images

Ornamental Grasses

Create intrigue in an otherwise barren garden with elegant stems and plumes that stand at attention and sway with a whisper of winter wind. Ornamental grasses also make a terrific source of shelter and food for songbirds. Learn which native grasses you should plant for birds and butterflies. Plant them in masses for big impact and cut them back in early spring. Feather reed grass is a striking, sterile option.

Witch hazel yellow flowering shrubsVia Fast Growing Trees

Witch Hazel

It’s low maintenance, resilient and ignored by most pests. In addition, witch hazel provides a wow factor with spidery flowers in hues of yellow, orange, red, copper and purple that bloom in fall or winter into early spring. Not only does this plant light up the dormant landscape, but it’s fragrant, too. Grow it as a small tree or a large shrub.

Check out more of the prettiest yellow flowering shrubs for your yard.

A chickadee sits on the branch of a crabapple tree with snow-covered berries.Steve and Dave Maslowski


Best known for presenting a springtime show, these flowering trees also produce red, orange and yellow fruits that appear in fall and persist into winter. They offer a pop of color against snowy gardens and provide food for birds. For a small yard, consider Tina or Firebird. Both are disease resistant with vibrant fruits.

See the benefits of growing weeping crabapple trees.

Ice Encrusted Dogwood BushGail Shotlander/Getty Images

Red Twig Dogwood

With red branches that look like coral in a wintry sea, this cold-hardy native stuns. At home in woodland and rain gardens, dogwood shines in every season. Cut old stems back in spring to optimize color on new growth.

How often should gardeners water plants in winter?

winter interest plants, A red-bellied woodpecker perches on Harry Lauder's walking stick plant.Steve and Dave Maslowski

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

This odd-shaped shrub is a conversation starter with bright yellow catkins that dangle from twisty branches. Plant Harry Lauder’s walking stick where everyone can appreciate its one-of-a-kind silhouette.

Next, learn how to prepare your garden for winter in two days.

Rachael Liska
Rachael Liska is a freelance writer and editor specializing in birding, gardening, food and family. She has over 20 years of writing, editing, content strategy and project management experience in the parenting/family, food, gardening, home decor/goods, travel and birding niches.