11 of the best flowers for winter colour
We understand how frustrating it can be to see garden colour disappearing before the winter. Herbaceous perennials are dying down, deciduous plants are dropping leaves and what’s left of garden flowers was removed and composted.
Luckily, the life in the garden never quite stops. There are several flowers that can spark up your outdoors in the winter. You can use them to liven up borders, flower beds, pots and hanging baskets, or you can even incorporate them in any planting scheme.
In this article, other than a list of popular winter flowers, we will share with you some ideas of their use such as colour combinations and plant companions.
Note: this is a list of winter flowers excluding shrubs. If you would prefer them, click here.
11 flowers for winter colour.
- Christmas rose (Hellebore)
- Winter aconite
- Pansy, viola, panola
- Primrose and polyanthus
Christmas rose (Hellebore)
Hellebore is an herbaceous perennial belonging to the rose family and is native to Asia. As the name Christmas rose would suggest, it starts flowering early in the winter, usually December time, producing white, pink and red flowers.
Hellebore is especially useful in areas lacking sunlight. The white-flowering varieties can visually brighten up your shady spaces and can be seen from a distance.
When planting in the borders, plant hellebore towards the front due to its small size. Although they are mostly evergreen plants, you can remove leaves after flowering in the spring.
Plant in partial to full shade in well-drained soil. Beware of its toxic nature when eaten.
There are literally thousands of varieties of daffodils appearing in nature, producing mostly white, yellow and orange flowers, flowering early or later in the winter.
Daffodils are extremely easy to grow, just make sure they don’t completely dry out, exhausting the bulb. You can use them in almost any area, ranging from pots to banks, or closing gaps in the borders and rockeries.
For the best effect, plant around greenery or in rockery to make them truly stand out.
They are hardy plants benefiting from well-drained soil. To help the bulbs expand, remove spent flowers, only remove leaves when they turn yellow.
Crocus is a flowering plant belonging to the iris family grown from the corm. Compared to a bulb, containing dead leaves, the corm is a swollen stem.
Crocuses can be found in almost any colour imaginable producing flowers in autumn, winter or spring.
They can be used in borders, flower beds or pots. For a colourful winter display, try combining blue or purple crocuses with yellow or orange daffodils in the background.
Crocus is a hardy plant growing best in well-drained soil and in full sun to partial shade. To maintain, remove the dying off yellow leaves in the spring.
Tulips don’t need any further introduction in the world of flowers, and similarly to daffodils, there are countless number of varieties producing numerous shades of colours, including black.
Flowers are mostly produced in late winter to early summer, depending on the variety.
If you are a tulip fan, we believe there is a tulip for any garden. You can plant them in the borders, flower beds, pots or traditional meadows.
Our tip; combine tulips with other plants such as bluebells, muscari or daffodils for an ideal contrast in colour, leaf and flower texture, and height. Alternatively, you can contrast white and pink, or white and red tulips on their own.
As always, we recommend the removal of dying, yellow leaves. Tulips are quite hardy, doing best in well-drained soil.
Snowdrops are a genus of flowering plants characteristic for flower production in snow (in cooler climates) and are an unmistakable sign of upcoming spring.
The flowers produced are purely white. You can use snowdrops just about anywhere in your garden, including flower beds, rose borders, pots, meadows and banks.
For best contrast, try white and blue colour schemes. You can combine snowdrops with primrose or pansy for best contrast in leaf and flower texture.
As the name suggests, they are hardy plants flourishing in full sun and well-drained soil.
Winter aconites are tuberous herbaceous perennials emerging from the ground in late winter and are native to woodland settings.
Yellow, cup-shaped flowers are produced in February. Just like the bulbs, winter aconite dies down to ground level in the spring and the leaves can be safely removed after they have turned yellow.
As mentioned earlier in the article, aconites do well in woodlands with thinner foliage density allowing a healthy amount of sunlight in,but that’s not a rule.
You can plant them in borders, incorporate them in flower beds, meadows or pots. Winter aconites are hardy, benefiting from well-drained soil.
Bluebells are bulbous perennial plants commonly found in woodlands, especially in western Europe.
In their peak time, in late winter or early spring, they can flood woodland with violet-blue colour.
As the common name hints, bluebells produce bell-shaped blue flowers. You can use them to create contrast with daffodils or warm-coloured tulips. Furthermore, you could also use them to colour up flower beds, borders and meadows.
Note: do not include bluebells in your vegetable patch! The bulbs can easily be mistaken for onions and their digestion could cause serious stomach upsetting at best.
Bluebells are hardy to –10C and prefer partial shade.
Viola, pansy and panola
Although they can look very similar to untrained eyes, there is a difference in flower sizes. Violas produce small flowers, pansies produce large flowers and panolas, being the cross of the two, produce medium sized flowers.
Flowers can be seen in almost any colour possible and are produced in masses. This makes them a perfect winter bedding plant.
You can combine different colours of these plants or just keep it simple by using one colour. You can find more information about colour combinations and schemes here.
If you choose to combine them with different plants, dwarf daffodils, crocuses and heathers are perfect companions.
Viola flowers can be a nice touch at a dinner party too, as you can use them to decorate platers.
They are quite hardy plants, thriving in well-drained soil. For a long-lasting bloom, regular deadheading is greatly beneficial.
Primrose and polyanthus
Just like viola or pansy, primroses and polyanthus are exceptional winter bedding plants, and their flowers can be found in tons of different colours.
Polyanthus produces clusters of flowers on a single stem whereas primrose produces one flower on each step. Polyanthus is a hybrid, a cross between primrose and cowslip.
We recommend using them in pots or flower beds. Due to their smaller size, you can find their ideal companions in dwarf daffodils, crocuses and winter aconites.
For this hardy plant, full sun to partial shade is recommended along with well-drained soil. Deadhead whenever possible to ensure longer lasting fuller colour.
Cyclamens are a popular and colourful winter flowering plant originating in Mediterranean. The flower colour ranges from white, pink, red to magenta, including their variables in the form of stripes.
You can use cyclamens in flower beds, pots or hanging baskets. You can combine them with different plants such as pansies, primroses or dwarf daffodils, but they also create a magnificent display of their own. You can try combining white with darker pink cyclamen. Cyclamen colours don’t offer warm and cool colour combinations but you can never go wrong with white. If you are looking for a perfect colour companion for white, pink is an ideal option.
They are hardy to –5C when grown in full sun and well-drained soil. The corms can be easily lifted and stored in a dark cooler room when replacing the bedding display in the spring.
Heathers (Calluna vulgaris)
Winter flowering heathers are a great addition to borders and pots,and can be found blooming in white, pink and red. With their upright stems producing short needles, they can be used in any garden design style,from cottage to contemporary.
You can use them on their own or as companions to daffodils, pansies and violas, and winter aconites. In the borders, they create an outstanding display when accompanied by azaleas. To maintain heathers, trim off spent brown flowers when ready.
They can be quite hardy, requiring acid soil and sunny to partially shady positions.
How to choose the right winter plants
There is no general formula to this step as the vast majority is very easy growing. We advise you to choose one, two or three different plants you like best.
Even if you crowd them in the flower bed or pots, you just cannot go wrong. Remember that dying leaves of bulbs will be removed, and winter bedding most likely removed in the spring.
How do I care for my plants?
Winter bedding plants and plants are very easy to grow. Feeding in the winter months is rarely required, if your beds are well prepared for planting.
For a longer lasting bloom, deadhead plants weekly, also removing flower stems. Dying leaves of plants can be safely removed when they start turning yellow as this is the time when they stop producing chlorophyll, therefore they no longer photosynthesise.
The garden doesn’t have to look lifeless and empty in the winter. There is a large variety of flowers designed for your winter outdoors and with a little planning, and thanks to this guide, your garden can be as colourful as during the warm summer months.