Alphabetical Plant Listing

Create a Garden with Great Winter Interest

Plant Combinations, Flowerbeds Ideas, Winter Garden, Early Spring Garden


Winters may be long and cold, but your garden can allay that dreariness and be transformed into a place of natural beauty with visually arresting textures, colors, fragrance and flowers. To create such beautiful winter scene, you need to make sure you select the right plants. Here is a list of shrubs, trees, bulbs that will help you enjoy the winter season in a beautiful new way.

Attractive Winter Bark

Bark becomes an important ornamental element in winter when the shedding of leaves exposes trunks and branches and reveals its glory. From warty to smooth, peeling to furrowed, tobacco to cinnamon-red, salmon-pink or stark white, the variety of bark colors and textures is fascinating. Often, varying bark textures can be admired on the same tree, and this adds a most attractive and stunning character during winter. Don't overlook the lenticels, those pleasing raised bands irregularly arranged along the surface of the bark!
 

Favorite plants with attractive bark include Acer griseum (Paperbark Maple), Acer palmatum 'Sango-Kaku' or 'Eddisbury' (Coral Bark Maple), Acer triflorum (three-flowered maple), Betula (Birch), Heptacodium miconiodes (Seven-Son Flower), Hypericum kalmianum (Kalm St. Johnswort), Parrotia persica (Persian Ironwood), Prunus serrula (Tibetan Cherry), Stewartia pseudocamellia (Japanese Stewartia)

Shrubs and trees with attractive winter bark

Colorful or Distinctive Stems and Twigs

A quick and easy way to add dramatic winter interest is to plant deciduous shrubs or trees with colorful stems and twigs. Attracting the eye with their bright, showy colors, the twigs may be brilliant scarlet, olive-green, greenish-yellow or even black. They may be straight or enjoy lovely curling shapes. 

Plants to consider are Cornus alba 'Siberica' or 'Kesselringii' (Tatarian Dogwood), Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' or 'Annie's Winter Orange' (Bloodtwig Dogwood), Cornus sericea 'Cardinal' or 'Flaviramea' (Redosier Dogwood). These plants can be planted separately or mixed together, for a tapestry of winter color. Other particularly attractive options include Corylus avellana 'Contorta' (Harry Lauder's Walking Stick), Salix alba (Willow)

All these plants are cold-hardy, versatile, fast-growing and of great appeal in other seasons too, with stunning fall color, attractive berries, or lush summer foliage. 

Shrubs and trees with colorful stems and twigs in winter

Winter Fruits and Berries

Some trees and shrubs display beautiful fruits in late summer or fall, which persist into winter. In a glorious display of crimson, orange, yellow or even purple, their attractive fruits adorn their branches in eye-catching bouquets, which gleam like jewels in the soft sunlight. In addition, the fruits of some species provide wild birds with high protein food. If you wish to admire berries in the winter, you need to select trees or shrubs with fruits that the birds shun until spring.

Plants to consider for their cheerful fruits include Aronia (Chokeberry), Berberis thunbergii (Japanese Barberry), Callicarpa (Beautyberry), Celastrus (Bittersweet), Ilex (Holly), Malus (Crab Apple), Symphoricarpos (Snowberry) or Vibernum.

Some roses produce equally attractive red-orange hips that last well into winter such as Rosa rugosa, Rosa moyesii or Rosa glauca.

Shrubs and trees with attractive fruits and berries in winter

Ornamental Grasses

Attractive, easy to grow and low maintenance, ornamental grasses are invaluable additions to the winter garden. Waving gracefully in the slightest breeze, they add movement to the garden, but also texture and color since most warm up to shades of bronze, tan or russet in the cooler months to create an impressive display. They offer a rich and interesting contrast with emerald evergreens, bright crimson berries and crisp white snow. In addition, many are a source of food and shelter for birds.

Recommended ornamental grasses for winter interest are Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern Sea Oats), Deschampsia cespitosa (Tufted Hair Grass), Sporobolus heterolepis (Prairie Dropseed), Panicum virgatum (Switch Grass), Carex oshimensis 'Evergold' (Sedge), Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea (Moor Grass), Calamagrostis brachytricha (Reed Grass), Liriope muscari (Blue Lily Turf), Festuca glauca (Blue Fescue), or Calamagrostis x acutiflora (Feather Reed Grass).

Great ornamental grasses for the winter garden

Cheerful Winter Flowers

While flowers are usually associated with spring or summer, they can also contribute to the beauty of the winter garden. Adapted to endure harsh winter conditions, they bring the garden to life with their bright, showy colors and attract the eye.

Most people celebrate daffodils as the harbingers of spring, without being aware that many other plants flower much earlier.

Plants to consider for their cheerful flowers include Helleborus (Hellebores), Hamamelis (Witch Hazel), Erica (Heath), Camellias, Iris reticulata (Dwarf Iris), Chimonanthus praecox (Wintersweet), Cornus mas (Cornelian Cherry), Lonicera fragrantissima (Sweetest Honeysuckle), Corylopsis pauciflora (Buttercup Winterhazel), Stachyurus praecox (Early Stachyurus), Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite), Viola odorata (Sweet Violet), Cyclamen coum (Persian Violet).

Pretty flowers for your winter garden

Guide Information

Plant Type Bulbs, Ornamental Grasses, Perennials, Shrubs, Trees
Plant Family Acer - Maples, Betula - Birches, Callicarpa - Beautyberries, Camellias, Carex - Sedges, Chaenomeles - Flowering Quinces, Chimonanthus - Wintersweets, Cornus - Dogwoods, Cyclamen, Erica and Calluna, Hamamelis - Witch Hazels, Helleborus - Hellebores, Ilex - Hollies, Iris Reticulata - Dwarf Irises, Salix - Willows, Viburnums
Season of Interest Winter
Maintenance Low
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow, Traditional Garden
Compare All Acer - Maples Compare All Betula - Birches Compare All Callicarpa - Beautyberries Compare All Camellias Compare All Carex - Sedges Compare All Chaenomeles - Flowering Quinces Compare All Chimonanthus - Wintersweets Compare All Cornus - Dogwoods Compare All Cyclamen Compare All Erica and Calluna Compare All Hamamelis - Witch Hazels Compare All Helleborus - Hellebores Compare All Ilex - Hollies Compare All Iris Reticulata - Dwarf Irises Compare All Salix - Willows Compare All Viburnums Great Plant Combination Ideas with Acer - Maples Great Plant Combination Ideas with Betula - Birches Great Plant Combination Ideas with Callicarpa - Beautyberries Great Plant Combination Ideas with Camellias Great Plant Combination Ideas with Carex - Sedges Great Plant Combination Ideas with Chaenomeles - Flowering Quinces Great Plant Combination Ideas with Chimonanthus - Wintersweets Great Plant Combination Ideas with Cornus - Dogwoods Great Plant Combination Ideas with Cyclamen Great Plant Combination Ideas with Erica and Calluna Great Plant Combination Ideas with Hamamelis - Witch Hazels Great Plant Combination Ideas with Helleborus - Hellebores Great Plant Combination Ideas with Ilex - Hollies Great Plant Combination Ideas with Iris Reticulata - Dwarf Irises Great Plant Combination Ideas with Salix - Willows Great Plant Combination Ideas with Viburnums Guides with Acer - Maples Guides with Betula - Birches Guides with Callicarpa - Beautyberries Guides with Camellias Guides with Carex - Sedges Guides with Chaenomeles - Flowering Quinces Guides with Chimonanthus - Wintersweets Guides with Cornus - Dogwoods Guides with Cyclamen Guides with Erica and Calluna Guides with Hamamelis - Witch Hazels Guides with Helleborus - Hellebores Guides with Ilex - Hollies Guides with Iris Reticulata - Dwarf Irises Guides with Salix - Willows Guides with Viburnums

khudoliy / 123RF Stock Photo

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Plant Type Bulbs, Ornamental Grasses, Perennials, Shrubs, Trees
Plant Family Acer - Maples, Betula - Birches, Callicarpa - Beautyberries, Camellias, Carex - Sedges, Chaenomeles - Flowering Quinces, Chimonanthus - Wintersweets, Cornus - Dogwoods, Cyclamen, Erica and Calluna, Hamamelis - Witch Hazels, Helleborus - Hellebores, Ilex - Hollies, Iris Reticulata - Dwarf Irises, Salix - Willows, Viburnums
Season of Interest Winter
Maintenance Low
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow, Traditional Garden
Compare All Acer - Maples Compare All Betula - Birches Compare All Callicarpa - Beautyberries Compare All Camellias Compare All Carex - Sedges Compare All Chaenomeles - Flowering Quinces Compare All Chimonanthus - Wintersweets Compare All Cornus - Dogwoods Compare All Cyclamen Compare All Erica and Calluna Compare All Hamamelis - Witch Hazels Compare All Helleborus - Hellebores Compare All Ilex - Hollies Compare All Iris Reticulata - Dwarf Irises Compare All Salix - Willows Compare All Viburnums Great Plant Combination Ideas with Acer - Maples Great Plant Combination Ideas with Betula - Birches Great Plant Combination Ideas with Callicarpa - Beautyberries Great Plant Combination Ideas with Camellias Great Plant Combination Ideas with Carex - Sedges Great Plant Combination Ideas with Chaenomeles - Flowering Quinces Great Plant Combination Ideas with Chimonanthus - Wintersweets Great Plant Combination Ideas with Cornus - Dogwoods Great Plant Combination Ideas with Cyclamen Great Plant Combination Ideas with Erica and Calluna Great Plant Combination Ideas with Hamamelis - Witch Hazels Great Plant Combination Ideas with Helleborus - Hellebores Great Plant Combination Ideas with Ilex - Hollies Great Plant Combination Ideas with Iris Reticulata - Dwarf Irises Great Plant Combination Ideas with Salix - Willows Great Plant Combination Ideas with Viburnums Guides with Acer - Maples Guides with Betula - Birches Guides with Callicarpa - Beautyberries Guides with Camellias Guides with Carex - Sedges Guides with Chaenomeles - Flowering Quinces Guides with Chimonanthus - Wintersweets Guides with Cornus - Dogwoods Guides with Cyclamen Guides with Erica and Calluna Guides with Hamamelis - Witch Hazels Guides with Helleborus - Hellebores Guides with Ilex - Hollies Guides with Iris Reticulata - Dwarf Irises Guides with Salix - Willows Guides with Viburnums

Find your Hardiness Zone

Find your Climate Zone

Find your Heat Zone

Join Gardenia.net

Create a membership account to save your garden designs and to view them on any device.

Becoming a contributing member of Gardenia is easy and can be done in just a few minutes. If you provide us with your name, email address and the payment of a modest $25 annual membership fee, you will become a full member, enabling you to design and save up to 25 of your garden design ideas.

Join now and start creating your dream garden!

Create a New Collection

Optional. For your reference.


Move Selected Plants to a Different Collection


Delete Collection

This field is required.