Plants that flourish and thrive in winter provide warmth and vibrancy to an oftentimes colorless garden. Grown in a wide range of shapes, sizes and colors, many winter plants are evergreen, meaning they retain their colorful foliage throughout the season. Some winter plants have colorful flowers that bloom even when temperatures are well below freezing. Tucked along a garden wall or planted along a perennial border, winter plants create a showy display.
Winter Daphne (Daphne odora 'Marginata' ) is an evergreen shrub with a rounded form that grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 9. It reaches 6 feet with a spread of 3 to 6 feet. Winter Daphne has fragrant, four-petaled rose-like blooms that open in winter to pure white. Its deep green, oval-shaped foliage is edged with a thin yellow stripe on the leaf margin. Winter Daphne, which is evergreen, is frost tolerant and grows at a moderate rate. Winter Daphne grows best in full sun to part shade and fertile, well-drained soil that is somewhat acidic or somewhat alkaline. It does not like to be transplanted.
Fragrant wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) is a slow-growing deciduous shrub that blooms in winter. It grows 10 to 15 feet tall with a spread of 8 to 12 feet. Fragrant wintersweet has a loose form that is fountain-like with showy, winter-blooming flowers. The fragrant, cup-shaped yellow to white flowers, which grow 1-inch wide, emerge on the previous year's growth. The lustrous, dark green leaves develop a yellow tinge in fall. Fragrant wintersweet requires full sun to light shade and well-drained soil but tolerates a wide range of soil conditions. Plant fragrant wintersweet in USDA zones 6b to 9.
Hellebore 'Double Queen' (Helleborus odorus 'Double Queen'), also called Lenten rose, is a winter-blooming perennial with a moderate growth rate and clumping habit. It has a double blooming flower that comes in lavender, pale pink, deep rose or white. Hellebore grows to 3 feet tall and has a spread of 1 to 3 feet. As an evergreen perennial, hellbore blooms and grows during below freezing temperatures and keeps its vibrant color throughout the winter. Hellebore is both deer- and frost-tolerant. It grows best in full to part shade and well-drained soil that is nutrient-rich. Plant hellebore in USDA zones 4 to 9.