Wondering what to grow in winter or if you can even plant anything at all in this cold season? Here are 45 amazing and frost defiant plants to inspire your winter garden.
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What to Grow in Winter | Gardening in the Cold Season
The thought of frost and the falling snow is enough to make you cringe and seek the comfort of a warm blanket or the fireplace. While we think a lot of plants do too when winter comes, you’ll be surprised how some garden plants can actually defy the odds.
Winter gardening doesn’t mean literally planting things in the snow. It’s more of having an idea of what to grow in winter so you can consider some plant additions to your garden soon.
While the snow season is usually a sign to give up all garden plans, it doesn’t have to be dull. I searched the web for something to grow indoors this winter and I found a lot of amazing plants that are almost as resilient in the cold season as they are in the warmer months.
Even in the seemingly bitter white snowy landscape, they stand out looking even more vibrant. Of course, I couldn’t help sharing this list with you.
Winter Flower Garden
Find out what to grow in winter for your flower garden in this list of lovely blossoms. Enjoy colorful foliage when such a delight is scant in the cold winter season.
Take it from the alpine mountains where these flowers bloom gloriously even in the freezing temperatures. They keep flowering too, giving you a constantly blooming garden even in winter.
Although these dainty flowers thrive through the snow, they like an area where there’s full sunshine.
Grow violets in clusters along pathways for a lovely effect. Mixing in other colors would be lovelier.
The camelia or camelia japonica is almost synonymous with the cold winter season. This evergreen shrub thrives even in winter when few plants do, giving life to a bare garden.
Camelia is also a shade plant growing well in acidic soil. Watering these plants with rainwater would be ideal.
Few plants can stand up to the freezing snow like the crocuses. They defy the bleak landscape of winter and pop up through the white snow, brightening up a dreary garden.
Don’t miss out on this chance of an all-season garden.
Grow crocuses in October or November for some late winter or early spring blooms. Growing them in clusters would be ideal for more impact.
4. Winter Hardy Roses
Depending on the variety of rose, these lovely flowers thrive and bloom beyond the growing season. The antique tea roses and old roses are among the varieties that can bloom until winter and even for generations. Find out more about growing roses here.
5. Snow Drops
How else are these dainty white flowers named besides for their snow-white color? It’s really for their ability to seemingly thrive in the snow. They love the snow so much so forget about growing these plants in the warm south. Snowdrops are a shade loving plant too, so you can add life and color to a shady spot in your garden.
You’ll find these well-loved classical flowers common in cottage gardens and for very good reasons. The flowers are just lovely in form and in their variety of colors.
They’re hardy too and pretty long-enduring — some may even last for a generation in a garden.
7. Dogwood Flowers
Although the Dogwood or Cornus Florida is a flowering tree, I just couldn’t help listing it under the flowers. This is simply for their beautiful blooms especially in the winter, when most of their leaves have fallen.
You will find the lovely pink flowers against the white snow really stunning.
Depending on the variety of heather and the hardiness zone in your area, they can bloom all winter long. Give this plant a time to establish and you’ll find them blooming all through winter against the frost.
Give your heather plant a trim in the summer to keep it healthy.
As this evergreen perennial plant thrives and blooms through winter it is also called a Christmas rose. They are a low-lying shade loving plant, making them perfect under trees or in shrubs.
Make this an addition to your garden and give your garden signs of life with these delightful blooms.
10. Winter-Flowering Irises
The iris is a great flower for the flower gardening beginners. They grow about wildly or even without maintenance.
They thrive when neglected, sometimes even giving more blooms. Watch this stunning flower bloom even with the falling snow.
Most of the cold-hardy and winter enduring plants are shrubs and trees. While some may not agree, the cold season is the best time to grow trees and shrubs.
This will give them time to become established and survive the heat in the summer.
Few plants symbolize winter or Christmas specifically like the holly. The glossy green leaves and round red berries are classic Christmas colors through and through.
You’ll find these interesting plants in Christmas wreaths and winter decorations.
12. Red Twig Dogwood
Wouldn’t the red twigs against the white snow get your attention during the winter? For this reason, the Red Twig Dogwood is a great landscaping plant even beyond the season.
They are also a staple in winter or Christmas decorations
Just like holly, the Firethorn has glossy leaves and bears red berries often in large clusters making them a great ornamental plant for your garden.
Want to invite birds over? Then grow the Firethorn whose berries are a food source for birds while the flowers invite the bees during the summer.
14. Corkscrew Hazel
The Corkscrew Hazel is a curious plant with twisted twigs, earning it the moniker of twisted hazelnut tree or the contorted filbert tree. This is a great plant in the cool fall and winter season, especially for Halloween decorations. They also make great container plants.
15. Grevillea Victoriae
This shrub plant is great for hedges and shields for creating privacy in your yard. Since they originated from the mountains, they can withstand the harsh winter weather.
They have interesting crimson flowers as added bonus.
It’s amazing how these desert plants withstand not only the heat and drought and but the bitter cold as well. Their silver pointy leaves make great front yard landscaping plants for a modern garden landscape.
They are easy to grow and maintain and are practically impossible to kill.
17. Sarcococca Confusa
Grow this reliable ornamental shrub, so beautiful it earned the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit. This evergreen plant boasts glossy elliptical leaves with white honey-scented flowers blooming in the winter season.
Keep your garden interesting even in midwinter with these types of frost enduring plants.
18. Skimmia Japonica
Just like the Sarcococca Confusa, this plant is a Royal Horticultural Society Garden Merit awardee as well. And pretty well-deserved too as these are such weather-resistant plants.
The Skimmia Japonica defy the harshest of weathers, from drought to the bitter cold. They’ve got glossy and leathery leaves and sweet-smelling flowers.
Mahonia is another evergreen shrub with origins in the mountains, which accounts for its cold hardiness and frost resistance. They offer interesting foliage that blooms all winter long, making it a favorite for garden landscapes.
It’s got edible blue or black berries that are rich in vitamin C, but has undesirable effects when consumed in large quantities.
When a plant has legendary stories behind it, then it must be amazing. The Daphne plant is widely known for its scented flowers and poisonous berries.
Being a cold- and drought-tolerant plant, the Daphne is great for rock gardens and as a winter garden ornamental plant. They also do well in pots too, if your space is not big enough to accommodate a plant bed.
The juniper is a coniferous evergreen known to withstand the harsh winter weather. It’s got interesting foliage and color too, which gives a landscape variety in form and color.
And by color, I mean its cool blue hue which intensifies in the winter. It can definitely give your garden some much-needed contrast.
Although the poinsettia is a plant more widely used for Christmas decoration, it is actually a tropical and a subtropical plant. The famous red foliage is very vibrant and prominent during the winter season.
However, you can keep these plants in temperate regions in containers indoors. You can display them outdoors as long as they are kept frost-free to keep from burning and withering.
Light up your garden with lavender and rose-pink brilliance in the cold season. Cyclamen is easy to grow and surprisingly vigorous despite its delicate appearance.
Plant cyclamen where its bright flowers can cover the ground and bathe under the winter sun. It’s nice to see them flourish underneath deciduous trees.
Growing vegetables are mostly done in the spring or summer but there are a few exceptions that thrive in the cold season. Check what to grow in winter in your vegetable garden.
24. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts have a slightly bitter taste which kids and some adults dislike. But overwintering can improve its flavor, making it perfect for winter vegetable gardening.
Learn more about how to grow Brussels sprouts here.
25. Collard Greens
Keep your dinner tables well supplied with healthy fresh greens with collard greens. Just like its relatives kale and the cabbages from the brassica family, they prefer cold temperatures.
Kale has tough-looking dark green foliage and you know by its color how vibrant and healthy it is. It’s one of the healthier greens packed with vitamins and minerals.
But other varieties can have interesting colors, making them great for an edible landscape in the fall and winter.
27. Chinese Cabbage
Have you tried Korean kimchi before? This cabbage variety also called the Napa cabbage is the main ingredient of this Asian dish.
It has a sweeter taste compared to the ordinary cabbage variety and looks more like romaine lettuce.
The health benefits of beet are undeniable, making them a preferable addition to your garden. They grow fast too with both greens and roots edible.
Find out more about growing beets here.
29. Ornamental Cabbages
Although the ornamental cabbages are edible, they tend to have a bitter taste. Good thing they are adorable to look at, making them perfect for some fall or winter decoration.
They make a great addition to your edible landscape too.
It’s no secret broccoli is a cold-hardy vegetable, but they can overwinter too. Broccoli has a long growing season but there are short growing season varieties too, so make sure you know which one you have.
Kohlrabi is another cold-hardy vegetable that grows in fall through to winter. It’s a tasty vegetable with edible leaves.
This plant is an early spring vegetable too.
Another more prominent member of the brassica family, but cabbages can overwinter too.
An interesting fact about carrots is that they taste better grown in winter than the ones grown in summer or spring. A cold frame greenhouse is perfect for carrots.
It fits well whether you grow it on a pot or on the greenhouse bed. Simply plan ahead of time without the need for costly gardening facilities.
34. Mustard Greens
For those who want a delicious and healthy green harvest, this spicy green is easy to grow. This vegetable is rich in vitamins K, C, and A.
While some vegetable cultivators are not familiar with it, these plants do well in the cold season. Mustard greens gardening can either be done from seed or seedlings.
Asparagus is a low maintenance crop, especially when it’s well taken care of and already stable. It’s resilient and can easily adjust to different types of environment.
Although, it is necessary to prep the asparagus bed in the colder regions to ready it for the succeeding growth phase. This plant is capable of producing up to 15 years after the early growing season.
One of the primary crops to grow as soon as the soil can be cultivated are peas. Apart from being easy to grow, the good thing about peas is it’s a remarkable companion plant.
It has a limited growing season but it leaves nitrogen in the soil, allowing other plants to thrive in the area.
Growing spinach in a container is a good idea so you can reap all those dark leafy greens before pests get the best of your harvest. Spinach is fast-growing and loaded with nutrients so you definitely want this on your list of vegetables to grow in a pot come winter.
Limited garden space will not be a hindrance to growing Popeye’s favorite food.
For centuries, garlic has been used for medicinal and culinary reasons. You find them in grocery stores with the same variety most of the time, but there are so many types of garlic available, each with their own unique flavor.
You can plant them as soon as fall starts, through the cold season, then harvest the crops in the summer.
There is a wide range of onions that come in different sizes, colors, and shapes. Onion crops are easy to grow, with most gardeners preferring to plant them in fall.
You can try growing them from seeds, sets, or transplants. They’re a reliable crop to grow even in the winter season.
Some evergreen herbs can survive the frost of winter. However, if you’re not too sure, you can grow herbs indoors instead.
Know what to grow in winter for your herb garden.
Like most alliums which are grown from bulbs, these perennial herbs regrow in the spring. However, like these chives, they push their limits by growing through to the frost.
Rosemary grows even in mountainous and rocky places. They survive both ends of weather extremes — the drought and frost.
Learn how to propagate rosemary this early winter to early spring.
Your dishes for the winter holidays will definitely need some thyme for their exquisite flavor. As thyme is an evergreen herb you will have a little problem with supplies over winter.
Keep your newly-planted oregano indoors when growing them through winter. Once they are well-established they can be left outdoors in your herb garden.
44. Bay Leaf
This aromatic evergreen tree is native to the Mediterranean and is obviously cold hardy. The tough leaves, although used in cooking, are not meant to be eaten.
A well-established lavender plant will survive the winter even when blanketed in snow. Grow the lovable lavender in your winter garden for life.
Watch this video from OneYardRevolution | Frugal & Sustainable Organic Gardening for more winter gardening ideas:
Knowing what to grow in winter will help your garden keep its vibrancy even in the snow. Give the flowers, herbs, and ornamental plants time to be well established before exposing them to the bitter cold.
Better yet, make a thorough study of the plants you chose. Depending on your hardiness zones, time the vegetables when planting them for overwintering.
Didn’t expect winter plant selection to be this extensive? Which among the plants is already growing in your garden now? Share your thoughts by posting your comments below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 23, 2019, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.