10+ Winter Plants That Survive And Thrive In The Cold


Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean your home exterior needs to be, too. Create a warm and inviting look by using winter plants among your other holiday decorations. A quick trip to the nursery will save you staging time and effort, especially if you plan on selling your own home. First impressions mean a lot, so whether you’re looking to sell, renovate or just give your property a quick facelift, winter plants and flowers are a smart way to go.


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How To Protect Plants In Winter

winter plant care tips

As a rule, it’s crucial that you research the needs of the individual plants and flowers you pick beforehand. The fact of the matter is that not all plants can survive a harsh winter. Depending on the climate you live in and the specific plant type, it’s care requirements will change – use tools like Missouri Botanical Garden’s Plant Finder for care specifics. 

It’s also important to note the classification of your plant. According to Gardening.org, plants can be classified as annual, biennial, or perennial. Annuals live for one growing season, biennials live for two growing seasons, and perennials live for two years. This has a large effect on the care they’ll need. Below you’ll see some basic tactics used to protect plants from chilly weather.

  • Take some indoors: Certain plants are just not built to survive winter and must be taken in for shelter. Some varieties require that their bulbs be dug up and removed for winter.
  • Insulate perennials: Some plants will simply require a couple of inches of mulch to protect their root systems 
  • Adequate watering: Water trees and shrubs generously (about two times as much) before the first frost when the ground freezes over. This ensures they have enough water to get them through the winter, and the frozen ice layer acts as insulation. If you don’t experience a seasonal freeze, plants will require considerably less water once the weather is colder.


10 Colorful Plants That Survive Winter 

Even though most plants and flowers do best in the warmer months, there are many that survive and thrive in freezing temperatures. The best way to tell if a plant can handle winter is by its “hardiness zone” rating, which is based on an area’s climate in its relation to supporting plant growth.

Different zones can support different types of plants depending on if they’re built for colder or warmer climates. If their zone falls within the hardiness zone where you live, you should be good to go as long as you treat the plant with proper care.

Looking for some cold weather garden and front yard inspiration? We’ve got you covered with the visual below. It explores 10 different colorful plants and flowers, their hardiness ratings, when they bloom as well as what makes them special. 

See a condensed visual here and more detail in the copy below:

button to Download winter plant guide


1. Snowdrop (Galanthus Nivalis)

photo of snowdrop flowers in the snow

With a name like “Snowdrop,” it’s no wonder these plants are a great winter garden option. They are able to survive in zones as low as 3, or -40°F (-40°C). Depending on where you live, you can expect to see blooms as early as February. It’s important to note that these plants are poisonous to humans, dogs and cats, so plant with care if you have little ones or critters around.

  • Hardiness Zone: 3 – 7
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Blooms in: Mid-winter
  • Great for: Walking paths 


2. Helleborus (Helleborus Orientalis)

photo of a helleborus

Helleborus flowers are no strangers to some frost and snow – they typically bloom in late winter and are about 1 foot tall. The petals come in a variety of colors from white to pink to purple, contrasted against vibrant yellow stamen. These flowers are not only hardy to inclement weather, they are also pollution- and deer-resistant.

  • Hardiness Zone: 4 – 8
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Sun: Part shade to full shade
  • Blooms in: Late winter/early spring
  • Great for: Ground cover


3. Camellia (Camellia Japonica)

photo of camellias

These colorful beauties bloom on branches that grow to about 7 – 12 feet tall, perfect for hedges. Depending on your region, you can count on blooms anywhere from December to March. They require a little more attention than some other varieties as they are susceptible to some fungal diseases and pests like aphids, mites and mealybugs.

  • Hardiness Zone: 7 – 9
  • Maintenance: Medium
  • Sun: Part Shade
  • Blooms in: Winter
  • Great for: Hedges


4. Mountain Fire (Pieris Japonica)

photo of mountain fire

Mountain Fire feels very festive with green and red leaves. when it blooms in late winter/early spring, it produces white flower buds. These deer-resistant plants do best in rich, slightly acidic soil. When mature, they can reach heights up to 12 feet but earlier on they are usually 4 – 8 feet. Also called “Japanese pieris,” they are especially fitting in a predominantly Japanese garden. 

  • Hardiness Zone: 5 – 8
  • Maintenance: High
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Blooms in: Late winter/early spring
  • Great for: Borders and fences


5. Winterberry (Ilex Verticillata)

photo of winterberries

A classic winter plant, the vibrant winterberry is a no-brainer for your cold-climate garden collection. These resilient plants survive well in wet, eroded or clay soil. They grow somewhat slowly and usually fall in the range of 3 – 12 feet tall. As a bonus, these trees attract birds and will surely provide a beautiful bird-watching spot when the weather gets warmer.

  • Hardiness Zone: 3 – 9
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Blooms in: Fall/winter
  • Great for: Rainy climates


6. Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana)

photo of witch hazel

Witch hazel is hailed as a skincare solution and medicinal powerhouse, but these plants also make a great winter garden addition. Give your space a vibrant pop as these plants bloom in late fall into early winter. Due to their deer-resistance and tall height, 15 – 20 feet, they make great garden borders. When the weather warms up, witch hazel also attracts birds.

  • Hardiness Zone: 3 – 8
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Blooms in: Fall/winter
  • Great for: Medicinal uses


7. Winter Jasmine (Jasminum Nudiflorum)

photo of winter jasmine

These yellow stunners are native to Northern China and can survive temperatures as low as -10°F (-23.3°C). Throughout the cold months, winter jasmine boasts pretty green vines and in mid- to late-winter, their pretty blooms appear. Their malleable 10 – 15-foot vines are great for sloping ground and to train on wall trellises.

  • Hardiness Zone: 6 – 10
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Blooms in: Mid-winter/early spring
  • Great for: Wall trellises


8. Sester Dwarf (Picea Pungens ‘Glauca Globosa’)

photo of a sester dwarf

Sester dwarfs are extremely similar to the massive evergreen trees you’d expect to find in the Rocky Mountains, only these are only about 3 – 5 feet tall. Their height combined with their thick, sturdy spread of needles make them great for hedges. Also, this spruce variety is deer-, rabbit- and drought-resistant. Try dressing these shrubs up with lights for a festive touch.

  • Hardiness Zone: 2 – 7
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Blooms in: Non-flowering
  • Great for: Shrubs


9. Pansy (Viola × Wittrockiana)

photo of a pansy in the snow

Pansies come in a great variety of colors ranging from blue, purple, pink and red to yellow, coral and white. These deer-resistant blooms can survive in temperatures as low as -10°F (-23.3°C). When the cold weather melts away, they are great for attracting butterflies to your garden. Their smaller size (no taller than 8 inches) makes them ideal for container gardening, bedding and window boxes. 

  • Hardiness Zone: 6 – 10
  • Maintenance: Medium
  • Sun: Full to partial sun
  • Blooms in: Fall
  • Great for: Containers 


10. Algerian Iris (Iris Unguicularis)

photo of an Algerian iris

Algerian Iris are also known as “Winter Iris” and can survive in temperatures as low as 0°F (-17.8°C). The stunning blooms come in a deep purple and are drought-, deer- and rabbit-resistant. They grow to be about 2 feet tall, which makes them ideal for pathways and flowerbed borders. This is another variety that does well in loamy, chalky, or clay-rich soil.

  • Hardiness Zone: 7–9
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Blooms in: Late fall–spring
  • Great for: Bed borders


Winter Plants Perfect For Curb Appeal And Staging

Just because you’re spending more time inside doesn’t mean you should neglect the exterior of your space, especially if you are trying to sell your home. The holidays are a special time of year for most buyers. Help them envision themselves in your home by including elegant and seasonal winter touches. 

Not only is winter curb appeal a great way to tie your home’s interior and exterior together, it’s also a great way to increase offers on your home. First impressions mean a lot, so remember that your front exterior is the first thing potential buyers will see.

10 Additional Winter Plants 

Below is a list of plants that are perfect for winter staging:

    • Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
    • Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata)
    • Catmint (Nepeta)
    • Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
    • Kaffir lily (Schizostylis coccinea)
    • American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana)
    • Coneflower (Echinacea)
    • Siberian Cypress (Microbiota decussata)
    • Sunset Kale (Brassica oleracea)
    • Honeywort (Cerinthe)

Pro Tip: If you don’t have the resources to fully landscape, focus on your front door and porch area. Add potted plants and portable topiaries to increase your curb appeal on a budget.


How to Style Colorful Winter Flowers and Plants

When staging your exterior, it’s important to keep general staging tactics in mind:

      • Mass-appeal: Make sure your space appeals to a wide range of buyers.
      • Show off: Highlight the best features of your property.
      • Color choices: Neutral colors are preferred by most buyers, but don’t forget to add in pops of color and pattern in the decor.
      • Cohesiveness: The whole property should have a unified look that goes along with the architecture of your home and the area you live in.

With these basic staging ideas in mind, here are some tips for styling winter plants and flowers on the exterior of your home:

    1. Frame your entrance: This can be done by using topiaries, garlands or even lights.
    2. Accessorize your door: After giving your door a fresh coat of paint, adorn it with an elegant and seasonal wreath. 
    3. Complement existing decor: Try adding potted plants or window boxes to the setting.
    4. Replace delicate flora: Remove plants that can’t withstand the cold and replace with hardier ones.
    5. Landscaping upkeep: It’s crucial that you tend to your landscaping as well as plowing the pathways to your house. 
    6. Consider snow cover: Some plants will look great year-round and will be especially pretty with snow cover. Keep this in mind when landscaping. The hardy plants you pick must be taller than your average snowfall so they aren’t buried.

Pro Tip: In your online listing, include pictures of your property’s exterior from all different seasons. This makes it easier for buyers to envision their life there year-round.


Tie It All Together: Seasonal Botanical Prints

Photo of two winter plant botanical prints on the wall, namely a spruce print and a winterberry print

A great way to tie your exterior into your interior and give your home a fresh feel is by including touches of plants and flowers indoors. Aside from adding evergreen garland and colorful holiday plants, another fun nod to the outdoors is using a fun and seasonal print. Use this simple and elegant prints below to spruce up your interior this winter.

button to Download botanical prints

It’s easy to shake off the winter blues and increase buyer interest with simple touches of greenery and seasonal flowers. Many people don’t see winter as the ideal time to sell. Turn that idea on its head by leaning on the nostalgia and love that surrounds the holiday season. 

There are many buyers still searching for homes in the colder months, so take advantage of the decreased competition and make your place stand out. You will have great success in selling your home if you are able to create a lively atmosphere that helps buyers imagine hosting their family for years to come.