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Winter Landscaping: 10 Plants that will Brighten the Dark Days of Winter

Gorgeous gardens aren't normally what come to mind during the winter months, but the cold temps, snow, and darker days don’t have to mean a dreary looking landscape! There are a variety of plants that will provide interest during the winter and early spring months. Here are 10 plants that will really take center stage in your landscape in late winter and into early spring.


In late winter, watch for these purple, yellow and white flowers poking out of a bed of mulch or snow. Plant large drifts of corms in fall for fabulous color next season. Crocus ancyrensis is the earliest bloomer.


When it pops up in late winter, snowdrop’s bright green leaves signal loud and clear that spring is on its way. It’s especially pretty scattered under deciduous trees and shrubs. Another plus- the snowdrop is virtually maintenance free!


Flowers of hellebores are a welcome sight when they bloom in late winter to early spring, sometimes while the ground is still covered with snow. Hellebore’s lovely cup-shaped blossoms are a staple of any cold-weather garden. With lots of colors, and heights ranging from just 2 inches to 2 feet, you’ll have a hard time choosing just one variety of this moisture- and shade-loving plant. Hellebore doesn’t bloom year-round, but you’ll wish it did!

Red Twig Dogwood

The red twig dogwood will brighten your winter landscaping with its bright red branches; the shrubs actually can provide year-round interest. Depending on variety, these shrubs bear either dark green or variegated leaves (greenish-gray with a white edge) and small white flowers that form in flat clusters.

Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce

If you love the rich blue color of the Colorado Blue Spruce, but don’t have room for a 50 foot tree in your landscape, the Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce may be the right plant to spice up a special spot in your landscape. Rich, true blue color, resistance to winter burn, minimal maintenance needs, well behaved growth and modest size are the outstanding qualities that make Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce first rate landscape plants for locations with good drainage and half day to full day sun.


Another beautiful flowering winter plant is the camellia – camellia japonica. This gorgeous, long blooming perennial plant comes in a great range of colors! Bursting into flower for weeks when the rest of the garden offers little, Camellias are ranked as one of the very best flowering shrubs. Following the fall-blooming Camellia sasanqua, Camellia japonica (Japanese Camellia) becomes the star of the winter garden.

Holly Bushes

Holly shrubs – ilex – are evergreen or deciduous plants that will add a lovely splash of color from their fruit, which is normally red. This festive plant is associated with Christmas because of the colors and has waxy leaves and is very easy to grow and take care of.


If you are looking for a leafy evergreen that you can depend on for a dazzling show of berries in the coldest days of winters, try growing cotoneaster. Cotoneaster has a low growing habit that makes it an excellent ground cover. There are some varieties that also have an upright growing habit. It has deep green foliage and colorful berries that last right through the winter.

Winter Jasmine

One of the earliest plants to flower (often in early January) is Winter Jasmine. This pretty yellow flowering plant is a deciduous perennial does very well in the DC metro region. The plant is a trailing, viny shrub that grows from a central crown. It is easy to grow and low maintenance.


The gorgeous Nandina Domestica flowers in the spring with big panicles of white clusters. In the fall and winter, the berries are the main event. The clusters of red berries start upright; as the berries mature, the clusters weigh down the canes.


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