What types of plants thrive in the winter?

Winter tends to bring to mind bare branches and empty gardens, but it needn't to be so: Numerous plants not only survive cold conditions, they thrive in them. The following are plants that love the low end of the thermometer and make your garden a place of beauty even in the coldest months of the year.

  • Camellias, especially those especially bred for cold climates, retain their glossy dark green leaves all year round and produce beautiful flowers in brilliant shades of pink and red.
  • Japanese maples, ranging from dwarf and bonsai sizes to big trees, produce stunning fall foliage for an impressive beginning to the winter.
  • Holly can make a sturdy and colorful hedge. Its strong green leaves and bright red berries are festive throughout the cold season.
  • Snowdrops have delicate white bell-shaped blossoms. Bulbs should be planted in the late spring so they can sprout and flower as the following winter progresses, even in the snow.
  • A variety of berry bushes, such as chokecherry and chinaberry, do well in the cold. Their fruit adds splashes of color to any garden and they attract birds, which add their own beauty to your yard.
  • The crape myrtle is a deciduous tree with delicate flowers. It may be bare in winter, but its mottled gray/brown bark adds texture and interest.
  • Bergenias produce plentiful white to purple flowers and in the fall their heart-shaped leaves turn from green to bronze, and even to shades of mauve.
  • Witch hazel is a small tree with fragrant yellow flowers that bloom at the beginning of the winter.
  • Hellebores (also known as Christmas or snow roses) produce plentiful white, pink or red blooms as early as January.

Remember: Gardens aren't only for the eyes. Use your green thumb to cultivate winter vegetables, such as carrots, kohlrabi, onions and leafy greens like broccoli, spinach and chard.