Winter Plants for Ohio

Ohio experiences a temperate climate with milder summers and cold winters. Ohio gardeners often use plants to add color or ornamental interest to dreary winter landscapes. If you reside in Ohio, select winter plants according to intended use, bloom and foliage color, mature size and general cultural requirements. Many plant varieties perform well in Ohio's winter weather.

Gray Dogwood

The gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa) belongs to the Cornaceae plant family and ranges from 10 to 15 feet in height. Green-white flower clusters appear in May and June, followed by white fruits with velvety red stems that retain their color well into winter. Emerging twigs also have a showy red color, while the gray-green leaves turn attractive, reddish-purple shades in the autumn. While this shrub grows well in poor soil conditions, it prefers well-drained, moist soils in full shade to full sun positions. Ohio gardeners often use the gray dogwood in wet meadows, native plant gardens and shrub borders.

Common Winterberry

The common winterberry (Ilex verticillata), also called the Michigan holly and the black alder, belongs to the Aquifoliaceae plant family. Non-showy, yellow, white or green blossoms appear from April through July, succeeded by vibrant red berries that add winter color to lawns and gardens. The purple-green foliage turns black in the winter. This shrub or small tree ranges from 6 to 10 feet in height. Common winterberries prefer acidic, moist soils in fully shady to fully sunny locations. Ohio gardeners often plant common winterberry shrubs along swampland margins, wet woodlands, lakes and riverbanks.

Walter's Violet

Walter's violet (Viola walteri), sometimes referred to as the prostrate blue violet, thrives in Southern Ohio's moist, deciduous woodlands. This Violaceae plant family member bears light green leaves and purple flowers that appear in the late winter and early spring. This perennial plant reaches up to 12 inches in height and likes moist, acidic soils that receive partial to full shade. Walter's violet generally grows well in shade gardens and moist woodland gardens.

Pussy Willow

The pussy willow (Salix discolor) belongs to the Salicaceae plant family and likes damp soils that receive plenty of sunlight. Mature pussy willows form large shrubs or small trees that reach up to 20 feet in height. This late winter plant bears scaly, gray bark and glossy, green leaves. The fuzzy, silver to gray catkins appear in February and March. Ohio gardeners often plant pussy willows along moist ditches and stream banks.


The springbeauty plant (Claytonia virginica), sometimes called the Virginia springbeauty, bears thin stems that range from 4 to 12 inches in height. This purslane plant family member (Portulacaceae) also features clusters of white or pink flowers with dark pink veins. These flowers add color to Ohio landscapes from January through late spring. This perennial likes moist, humus soils in shady positions. Gardeners often group plant springbeauties along moist woodlands or shaded thickets.

Keywords: Ohio winter plants, Ohio winter shrubs, Ohio winter flowers

About this Author

Cat Carson has been a writer, editor and researcher for the past decade. She has professional experience in a variety of media, including the Internet, newspapers, newsletters and magazines. Her work has appeared on websites like and, among others. Carson holds a master’s degrees in writing and cultural anthropology, and is currently working on her doctoral degree in psychology.