Gardeners in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 and higher can grow winter flower garden plants year-round outdoors. Numerous plants will bloom, even in the snow, throughout the cold months of November through February. Nothing compares to the sight of brightly colored flower blooms during the bleak, cold days of winter. Three of the most often planted and reliable winter flower garden plants are hellebore, hardy cyclamen and witch hazel trees.
Hellebores are hardy in Zones 4 to 8. Some varieties of hellebore bloom in early spring, but most of these winter flower garden plants begin blooming in November and continue blooming into spring.
The Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, begins blooming around Christmas, as its name suggests. Snow does not affect these plants, and they do remain evergreen during the winter months. Some hellebore foliage dies back in the heat of the summer, but once the weather cools, it will re-emerge.
Hardy cyclamen are not to be confused with florist cyclamen. They are two different varieties of the same plant. Hardy cyclamen grow in Zones 5 to 9, although gardeners with a protected area in Zone 4 have reported success with these tiny bulbs.
The best way to start a patch of hardy cyclamen is to purchase the tubers and plant them about a half-inch deep in late fall or very early spring. Choose a spot that is easy to see at the front of a flower bed border. This plant prefers to grow in part shade. In November tiny heart-shaped leaves will form, followed by tiny pink or white flowers that look like miniature versions of florist cyclamen.
Hardy cyclamen will bloom on and off throughout the winter months, putting on its last show in February or March. As the weather warms, the foliage will die back, and the plant will remain dormant throughout the summer, coming to life again when the weather cools down.
While technically a tree, witch hazel is a group of winter flower garden plants that add to any garden. Bright, confetti-colored blooms in shades of yellow, orange and red stand out against the snow in Zones 4 to 8.
This slow-growing tree can begin blooming anywhere from mid-October to February depending on the variety. One of the earliest blooming varieties is Hamamelis virginiana, the common witch hazel, which begins blooming in October.
Gardeners looking for a plant to brighten up the holidays should plant Hamamelis vernalis, "Christmas Cheer," which typically blooms in December right around Christmas time.