Best winter-flowering plants

Planting winter pansies in a pot

Winter-flowering plants are perfect for adding a splash of colour to the garden in the coldest, darkest months, helping to extend the season of interest beyond the traditional growing season of spring to autumn. There’s a huge range of winter flowering plants to grow, including climbers such as winter clematis and winter honeysuckle, shrubs like mahonia and daphne, and bedding plants like winter pansies – there’s a flowering plant for every part of the garden. What’s more, many winter-flowering plants are suitable for growing in pots, so you can add a splash of colour anywhere you fancy – perhaps a colourful display outside your front door is enough to bring some winter cheer?

Some winter-flowering plants also benefit pollinators, providing pollen and nectar for species such as bumblebees, which are increasingly found foraging in the winter months. These flowers can therefore provide a lifeline for these unseasonally active pollinators, which otherwise would go hungry. However, not all winter flowers are bee-friendly so browse our list below to find out which ones are the most suitable. Nearly all make good cut flowers.

Best winter flowering plants for pots

Some winter-flowering plants are particularly suitable for growing in pots. These include:

  • Snowdrops
  • Pansies
  • Cyclamen
  • Winter heather
  • Hellebore

Discover more winter flowers for pots

Best winter flowering bedding plants

These five bedding plants are perfect for adding instant colour to winter borders:

  • Pansies
  • Cyclamen
  • Winter heather
  • Polyanthus primroses
  • Violas

Browse our pick of the best winter-flowering plants, below.


 

Winter honeysuckle

Best winter-flowering plants - winter honeysuckle
Winter honeysuckle flower

Winter honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, is a woody shrub that bears fragrant, cream-white flowers on almost leafless branches, which are a magnet for winter-active bumblebees. These are sometimes followed by dull-red berries.

Flowers: December to February
H x S: 2m x 3m


 

Christmas rose

Best winter-flowering plants - Christmas rose
Christmas rose flower

Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, is the first of the hellebores to flower, usually in January but occasionally as early as Christmas. It bears large, round, white flat-faced flowers that are very attractive to bees, above low-growing mounds of leathery, deep green foliage. It’s perfect for growing at the front of a partially shaded border.

Flowers: January to March
H x S: 45cm x 45cm


 

Pansies

Best winter-flowering plants: pansies
Pansy flowers

Pansies, Viola x wittrockiana, are low-growing, bushy perennials that are usually grown as annual bedding plants. They have large, striking flowers, larger than those of violas, and heart-shaped leaves. The colourful, often bicoloured flowers have darker, face-like markings in the centre. Most cultivars flower in spring and summer but some have been bred to bloom in winter, offering a cheerful display of colour when little else is in flower.

Flowers: November to March
H x S: 20cm x 30cm


 

Winter aconites

Best winter-flowering plants - winter aconites
Winter aconites

Winter aconites bear golden yellow buttercup-like, pollinator-friendly flowers, surrounded by divided leafy bracts, from mid- to late-winter. Clumps quickly spread and makes a dramatic yellow carpet just as the first snowdrops begin to bloom. It’s perfect for planting beneath trees or naturalising in grass.

Flowers: February to March
H x S: 10cm x 13cm


 

Daphne

Best winter-flowering plants - Daphne x transatlantica
Daphne x transatlantica

Daphnes are colourful shrubs, usually blooming in late winter and early spring. They’re fantastic for small gardens, with various types perfect for different situations, such as in window boxes, large containers, mixed borders, areas of dry shade and gravel gardens. There are both evergreen and deciduous varieties. Most bear clusters of small flowers in shades of red or pink and sometimes white or green, which are attractive to bees.

Flowers: February to March
H x S: 1m x 50cm


 

Snowdrops

Best winter-flowering plants - snowdrops
Snowdrops

Snowdrops are the first bulbs of the year to flower, heralding the end of winter. There’s a variety of different types to grow, ranging from single- to doubled-flowered types. Small bees like honeybees may visit the flowers.

Flowers: January to March
H x S: 15cm x 10cm


 

Mahonia

Best winter-flowering plants - Mahonia 'Winter Sun'
Mahonia ‘Winter Sun’

Popular with winter-active bumblebees, mahonias bear slender spikes of bright yellow flowers above evergreen rosettes of glossy dark green leaves. Grow in moist but well-drained soil in partial shade.

Flowers: November to March

H x S: 5m x 4m


 

Winter clematis

clematis-cirrhosa-5

Winter clematis, Clematis cirrhosa, is a perennial climber with glossy, evergreen foliage. Flowers are usually a creamy colour, depending on the cultivar, and have a delicate citrus fragrance, which attracts bees. As a group one clematis, they don’t need pruning, though this can be done lightly, straight after flowering, to restrict their size.

Flowers: December to January
H x S: 2.5m x 1.75m


 

Winter heather

flowering-heather-9

Winter-flowering heathers are particularly useful for bringing colour to winter containers. Planted in the ground, heathers will gradually spread, inhibiting weeds as they go. Popular with bees.

Flowers: February to March
H x S: 1.5m x 80cm


 

Cyclamen

Best winter-flowering plants - cyclamen
Best winter-flowering plants – cyclamen

Hardy cyclamen, Cyclamen coum, is a pretty hardy perennial, bearing delicate silver-lined dark green leaves and dainty blooms in shades of white, pink and red, from late winter to early spring. It’s perfect for growing at the base of small shrubs and trees, and naturalising in grass.

Flowers: January to April
H x S: 8cm x 10cm


More winter-flowering plants:

Best winter-flowering plants - quince
Best winter-flowering plants – quince

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