The hardest part of winter gardening is finding plants with varying visual appeal during that season. Winter plants can be ones that bloom flowers during the season or have berries and fruits mature. Some plants for winter just have interesting bark features or form structure. Whichever style of winter plant you are looking for, there is something for every gardener.
Winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, is from the olive family and is an easy to grow shrub. It is also known as the hardy jasmine and has leaves that are dark green, oblong, and 1 inch long. Flowers are funnel-shaped, yellow, and 1 inch wide, blooming on a mound that can get 6 to 10 feet tall and just as wide. Plant this one in any soil in full sun. Propagate via cuttings during a nondormant time of the year. It is grown in USDA hardiness zones of 6 to 9.
Thorny elaeagnus, Elaeagnus pungens, is from the oleaster family and is a fragrant evergreen shrub that is fast growing and drought tolerant. It is also known as the silverthorn and the spotted elaeagnus. The shrub can get 15 feet in height and 20 feet in width. Leaves are 2 to 4 inches long and wavy, generally, though some cultivars can vary. Flowers are bell-shaped cream blooms 1/4 inch long and in clusters, blooming during the fall and winter. It has fruits that are eaten by birds. Plant this one in partial to full sun in any soil. Propagate via seed, softwood cuttings, or by hardwood cuttings. It is grown in USDA hardiness zones of 7 to 9.
Common winterberry, Ilex verticillata, is from the holly family and is also known as the black alder, coralberry, or Michigan holly. While it can theoretically reach 25 feet tall, a growth of 6 to 12 feet tall is more likely. Leaf size can vary but ranges from 1 to 4 inches long with toothed margins. Flowers are small and white with red fruits that look like berries. Leaves will fall in autumn, but fruits typically stay on through winter. Plant this one in moist acidic soil in full sun or partial shade. Propagate via summer softwood cuttings, and grow in USDA hardiness zones of 3 to 9.
Chinese elm, Ulmus parvifolia, is from the elm family and also known as the Drake elm or lacebark elm. It is a fast growing tree with flaking bark in shades of gray, brown, orange, and green. It will get 40 to 50 feet tall with 2 inch long leaves. It will fruit in the fall and keep its flaking bark all through winter for visual appeal. Plant this one in any soil with full sun or partial shade. Propagate via seed, graftings, or greenwood tip cuttings. It is grown in USDA hardiness zones of 5 to 9.
Winter honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, is from the honeysuckle family and is sometimes called bush honeysuckle. It is a fragrant shrub that reaches 6 to 8 feet in height with leaves that are evergreen in the southern United States and deciduous in the North. Flowers in late winter are cream white and plentiful and less than 1 inch long. Plant this one in any well-drained soil with partial shade or full sun. Propagate via softwood shoots or by seed. It is grown in USDA hardiness zones of 5 to 9.