As temperatures drop and the snow begins to fall, winter-blooming plants and flowers emerge to light up the garden with color. Grown in a wide range of colors, shapes and sizes, winter gardening plants are a warm respite to the garden and oftentimes are evergreen, meaning they retain their colorful foliage throughout the cool season. They are also frost-tolerant and withstand below-freezing temperatures when most plants have died or gone dormant for the season.
Witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia "Orange Beauty") is a winter-blooming deciduous shrub that grows in USDA zones 5 to 8. It reaches a maximum height of 12 feet and has a spread between 8 and 12 feet. Witch hazel has an upright, spreading form and fragrant 1-inch-long, ribbonlike flowers that are deep yellow to orange. The crinkly petals on witch hazel grow in clusters and begin their blooming season in January. The 6-inch-long, green oval leaves are broad and cast a yellow, red and orange tinge in fall. Witch hazel grows best in full sun to part shade and well-drained, moist soil that is acidic and nutrient-rich.
Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) is a perennial flower that blooms in winter in the freezing temperatures. It reaches a maximum height of 3 feet and has a spread of 1 to 3 feet. Lenten rose produces a plethora of single, white to green and cream flowers that, as they age, become pink and are found growing on the branched stems. The leatherlike, deep-green basal leaves on Lenten rose appear at the base of the plant and are divided into seven or nine leaflets that retain their color all winter long. The foliage on Lenten rose is hairless to slightly hairy. Lenten rose grows best in full sun to part shade and neutral to alkaline soil that is well-drained and nutrient-rich. Versatile, it tolerates a wide range of growing conditions. Plant Lenten rose in USDA zones 4 to 8.
Winter Daphne (Daphne odora "Marginata") is an evergreen shrub that is suitable to grow in USDA zones 7 to 9. It has a rounded form and reaches a maximum height of 6 feet and a spread of 3 to 6 feet. Winter Daphne has small, fragrant flowers that are pink when closed and open to white. The shiny, deep-green, yellow-edged leaves are oval in shape and retain their bright color all winter long. Winter Daphne grows best in full sun to part shade and well-drained, nutrient-rich soil that is somewhat alkaline to neutral in nature. It does not tolerate transplanting or overly dry soils.