20 Winter Flowers That Bloom in the Cold

Yellow crocuses in bloom popping up from the snow

Not every plant in your yard needs to lose its petals and foliage when winter comes. Bright reds, soft pinks, sunny yellows –– these colors can still pepper your lawn, even when there’s snow. You just need winter flowers that bloom in the cold.

Viola, winter jasmine, calendulas, and many plants love cooler temperatures, and they don’t hesitate to take advantage of winter’s pollinators. Plants like black-eyed Susans and lavender won’t be making an appearance in winter. They prefer the warm weather of summer.

Now that you’ve winterized your lawn, your landscape needn’t look dreary, gray, and melancholy.

Here are 20 winter flowers that bloom in the cold:

1. Crocus

  • Common names: Crocus
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Bloom time: Flowers appear in autumn, winter, or spring

It’s normal to see these white, yellow, purple flowers peeping their tiny petals out of the snow. Crocuses have excellent cold-weather tolerance, and a chilly frost or snowfall won’t wipe them out.

Because they remain so close to the ground, the warm soil temperatures help protect these mighty flowers. The soil also ensures the underground bulb survives any freeze that happens to kill the blooming crocus.

2. English Primrose

Blooming English primrose
Emphyrio | Pixabay
  • Common names: Primrose or common primrose
  • Lifespan: Perennial
  • Bloom time: Most primroses bloom in spring or summer, but English primrose makes its appearance in the winter months

These lovely soft blooms can add a little sun to any cold, gray winter. They’re a comforting reminder that winter will soon be over, and more vibrant blooms will soon spring from the ground.

3. Viola

blooming violas
Manfred Richter | Pixabay
  • Common names: Pansies, Johnny-jump-ups, or violets
  • Plant type: Annuals and perennials
  • Bloom time: Fall, winter, and spring

Violas bring a dazzling range of color to a barren, cold landscape changing with the seasons. Bold yellows, purples, pinks, oranges –– these pansies and violets will remind you of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

These colorful flowers are also edible, making them excellent garnishes and scrumptious candies.

4. Camellia

Blooming pink camellia
Hyejin Lee | Pixabay
  • Common names: Sasanqua, japonica, or rose of winter
  • Plant type: Evergreen shrub or small tree
  • Bloom time: Sasanquas bloom from mid-fall to early winter; japonicas bloom from mid-winter to mid-spring

Camellias are famous for their magnificent blooms. These evergreen shrubs feature thick, serrated, and glossy leaves throughout the year, and surprise us with their breathtaking flowers as temperatures drop. These shrubs can grow between 6 to 15 feet tall, making them quite the spectacle in your white, winter wonderland.

5. Snowdrop

Snowdrops blooming in winter
Sunflair | Pixabay
  • Common names: Galanthus
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Bloom time: Fall, winter, and spring

An early sign of spring, snowdrops are typically the first among many winter bloomers to burst through the earth’s soil. These dainty flowers create a striking, dense bloom that multiplies through the spreading bulbs. Keep in mind: These plants are toxic to humans and pets.

6. Winter Jasmine

Blooming winter jasmine
Myfriso | Pixabay
  • Common names: Winter jasmine
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Bloom time: Winter

Beat the winter gloom with budding winter jasmine. These shrubs burst with bright yellow flowers in winter and are favored by gardeners for their low-maintenance care.

While most jasmine flowers feature beautiful scents, you won’t be smelling these winter jasmine anytime soon. Unlike the rest of their family, winter jasmines aren’t fragrant flowers.

7. Winter Aconite

Blooming winter aconite
Sabina Sjölander | Pixabay
  • Common names: Winter aconite
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Bloom time: Winter

Members of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae), winter aconite’s tiny yellow spots will remind anyone with cabin-fever that warmer days are just ahead. Winter aconites love the warm sun so much they only open when the sun is bright and shining.

On dreary, overcast days, expect these little blossoms to close up. Though only 4 inches tall, they’ll make an impression on your landscape as winter aconite spreads year after year.

8. Algerian Iris

Blooming Algerian iris
Beverly Buckley | Pixabay
  • Common names: Winter iris or Algerian winter iris
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Bloom time: Fall, winter, and early spring

These lovely lilac-colored blooms will turn any gray, murky yard into a cozy, beautiful garden. Watch these irises shoot from their narrow grass mound and open into a breathtaking, delicate arrangement of soft petals. For a bouquet that brings life back into the freezing halls of your home, cut the Algerian iris’s stalk and feature the flower in your favorite vase.

9. Higan Cherry

  • Common names: Rosebud cherry, spring cherry, winter-flowering cherry, weeping Higan cherry
  • Plant type: Cherry tree
  • Bloom time: Late winter to early spring

Higan cherry trees add a lovely, charming spot of color during a frigid winter. Admire their soft pink petals contrasting against the tree’s dark bark and look forward to their full flowering in the spring. Nothing quite compares to the miraculous blooms of cherry blossoms to transition us from a long winter to sunnier spring days.

10. Calendulas

Orange calendula
Manfred Richter | Pixabay
  • Common names: Marigolds
  • Plant type: Although a perennial flower, calendula is typically treated as an annual due to its poor survival
  • Bloom time: Fall, winter, and spring

These orange and yellow flowers will bring warmth and cheer to your wintery cottage garden. Though not frost tolerant, they begin to thrive as cooler temperatures arrive in autumn after a hot summer, and continue to bloom through winter and spring.

Calendula plants are popular with gardeners due to their effect on pests. Aphids, whiteflies, thrips –– these pests will flock to your calendula and leave your valuable crops alone. These brightly colored flowers also attract essential pollinators to your yard, including bees and butterflies.

11. Winterberry

Red winter berries covered in snow
Cristie Guevara | Needpix
  • Common names: Black alder, Canada holly, coralberry, winterberry holly, Michigan holly, fever bush, winter hollyberry, hollyberry, false alder, and fever bush
  • Plant type: Deciduous holly
  • Bloom time: Both the male and female plants bloom small white flowers in summer. The female produces bright red berries in summer, lasting through winter

For a splash of striking red against a white snow blanket, consider growing winterberries. These hollies are dioecious, which means they need a male and female plant to grow within 50 feet of each other to produce their wintery red berries. But it’s the female, not the male, that has the berries.

The clusters of speckled scarlet berries will arrive in summer and last through winter, depending on how much the birds feast on them. Some hollies may lose their berries by early winter to the birds, while others may have a longer winter showing.

12. Hellebores

Blooming hellebores
Анна Иларионова | Pixabay
  • Common names: Winter rose, Lenten rose, and Christmas rose
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Bloom time: Winter and spring

If your shade garden is looking a little lonely in the wintertime, grow shade-loving hellebores. These wintery blooms are long-lasting and fragrant and aren’t a favorite of deer and voles.

No need to worry about their little petals getting swallowed up and taken away from the beautiful winter view. Just don’t let your pets and small children eat these pretty flowers as the plant is poisonous.

13. Witch Hazel

Blooming witch hazel
Manfred Richter | Pixabay
  • Common names: Witch hazel
  • Plant type: Deciduous shrub or small tree
  • Bloom time: Fall, winter, and spring

Witch hazel is popular for its low-maintenance, attractively textured blooms, medicinal and cosmetic properties, and high resistance to pests and disease. It’s sweet fragrance cuts through the crisp cold air, giving your nose quite the delight as you step outdoors.

14. Cyclamen

Blooming cyclamen
Armennano | Pixabay
  • Common names: Sowbread, swinebread, Persian violet, or alpine violet
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Bloom time: Fall, winter, and spring

These vibrant pink and red flowers are a real joy when flowers become a scarce delight in winter, and you can even enjoy them as houseplants. Their dainty blooms are under an inch tall on top of long fragile stems.

15. Boxwood

Green boxwood foliage
Alexas_Fotos | Pixabay
  • Common names: Box plant
  • Plant type: Evergreen shrub or small tree
  • Bloom time: Spring

These boxwood shrubs aren’t exactly celebrated for their spring blooms, which are small, yellowish-green, and produce seeds for reproduction.

What makes evergreen boxwoods so prevalent in winter is their dark green foliage and texture. They are exceptionally eye-catching just after a snowfall when the snow shines white against the deep green leaves.

Boxwoods can also be trimmed and cut into just about any shape or size, making them a focal point in the yard.

16. Pussy Willow

Blooming pussy willow
Emphyrio | Pixabay
  • Common names: Pussy willow
  • Plant type: Deciduous shrubs or small trees
  • Bloom time: End of winter through spring

The soft tufts growing along your pussy willow may not look like flowers at all, and they don’t have bright colors or a beautiful scent. But these little fuzzy nubs are flowers just before they fully bloom.

The nubs, famous for their cat paw resemblance, signal spring is just around the corner. Once spring rolls around, the pussy willow enters full bloom and creates petalless flowers called catkins.

As they bring us closer to spring and feel soft against our frozen fingertips, pussy willows also make for great seasonal decoration. Snip a few of the fuzziest branches, place them in a vase inside, and you may even get to see them bloom.

17. Mahonia

Blooming mahonia
Nowaja | Pixabay
  • Common names: Mahonia
  • Plant type: Evergreen shrub
  • Bloom time: Winter and spring

This evergreen shrub will burst with bright yellow flowers, renewing your landscape and bringing joy to the changing seasons.

With a fabulous explosion of yellow contrasted against dark green leaves and white snow, you won’t be in much of a hurry for summer to get here.

18. Daffodils

Blooming yellow daffodils
Mabel Amber | Pixabay
  • Common names: Narcissus
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Bloom time: Late winter to early spring

When these trumpets pop up from the snow, you know warmer temperatures are on the way. These bright-colored flowers with their fun petal shapes put spring in all our minds as we scrape morning frost off the car or slip on an extra pair of wool socks.

19. Chionodoxa

Blooming chionodoxa
Markéta Machová | Pixabay
  • Common names: Glory-of-the-snow
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Bloom time: Early spring

Blue, pink, white, lavender –- these charming petite blooms will sprout from your garden year after year. Chionodoxa spread, so you’ll find new blossoms popping up the following growing seasons. To encourage spreading, leave these delicate flowers undisturbed. Less raking and weeding will ensure they multiply.

Chionodoxa is also resistant to those munching deer and has a high resistance to disease.

20. Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

Ornamental cabbage
Hans | Needpix
  • Common names: Flowering cabbage and kale
  • Plant type: These vegetables are biennials, though they are treated as annuals. They grow vegetative leaves the first year and then look like beautiful flowers the second year. The vegetables then produce seeds, die, and are removed from the garden.
  • Bloom time: Best to grow in spring or fall. Lasts through winter.

With their ruffled and textured leaves, these vegetables will look like giant flowers in your winter garden. They aren’t grown for their taste, but rather for their colorful effect on the landscape.

Ornamental cabbage and kale begin to color as temperatures drop, and will typically last through the winter if temperatures are right. They won’t do well in harsh storms or hot sunny days, but they can withstand freezing temperatures.

Stop to Smell the Winter Flowers

There’s no need to let the joys of sunny weather and beautiful gardens escape in winter. Winterize your garden so bare trees, and the frozen earth don’t take the spring out of your step.

Admire the gorgeous camellia hanging by the porch, gaze at your flowering Higan cherry, and laugh at the birds fighting over the scarlet winterberry.

When to Call a Gardening Professional

Call a professional gardener near you if you need assistance with landscaping design, installation, or maintenance.

When you want the perfect wintery landscape in your backyard, sometimes you need the advice of a professional. A gardener can help choose flower arrangements that best accentuate your yard, and they can determine where these flowers will flourish.

A professional gardener can help maintain your winter flowers for you so you can stay inside where it’s warm and enjoy a hot chocolate.

Main image credit: Efraimstochter | Pixabay

Jane Purnell

Jane Purnell is a freelance writer and actor in New York City. She earned her B.A. from the University of Virginia and enjoys a warm cup of French press coffee.