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Winter Wonders: Flowers That Bloom in Winter

With winter is in full swing  and spring slowly approaching, many gardeners are wondering what types of plants and flowers bloom during the chillier seasons.

Winter’s dreary and colorless tone can make many gardens and homes look gray and dull. But there are beautiful plants and flowers that thrive in the cold and can give you that oomph of much needed color to your backyard. Here are just a couple flower and plant suggestions to liven up your landscape. Kerry Smith, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System specialist, gives some insight on the different types of plants and flowers below.

She said that there are both cold hardy annuals which only live for a single season and longer lived perennials that are good choices for winter color.


Pansies & pinolas make a colorful container garden

 Pansies (Viola x )

The pansy is a “staple” flower that blooms in the cold. The pansy comes in a large variation of colors and generally grows approximately 6 inches to 9 inches tall. “It is a low, mounding type plant and grows in full sun to partial shade,” Smith explained. Pansies can be used to line sidewalks or other pathways because of the size and shape they grow. Pansies are ideal because they tend to bloom for extended periods, adding long-lasting color to your garden.


Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus)


Snapdragons are vertical-growing plants that tend to bloom in dense bunches all the way up the stalk . They come in a variety of bright and light colors and are commonly paired with pansies. Snapdragons require consistent moisture and full sun to grow their best.

“While you can plant them in the winter, they actually perform even better if you plant them in the fall. This allows for better root growth and then a bigger show of flowers,” Smith said.

Snapdragons grow from 1-3 feet tall.

English Daisy (Bellis perennis)

This flower grows close to the ground and reaches about 6 inches tall. Though it is considered an annual in the Deep South, the English Daisy can perennialize in colder regions.  Colors come in pink, orange, white and yellow. English daisies should be watered often and grows best in full or partial sun.

 Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia hybrids)

An annual flower that grow approximately 12 inches, it is used primarily to line beds and sidewalks. These flowers come in white, lavender or pink. Sweet alyssum is best grown in full sun or partial sun.  “Sweet” is in their name because of their soft fragrance that catches your attention.

Honeywort (Cerinthe major)

With deep blue and purple flowers, honeywort is a great flower to spruce up a garden. This unusual and rare plant grows up to 3 feet in length and width and should be planted in full sun, or with a little shade.

sweat pea

Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus)

Sweet peas look good and smell good. As its name implies the flowers have a sweet smell. This is an annual vine that can grow on a trellis or other upward-directing support. Sweet peas come in a variety of flower colors ranging from hot pink to deep blues and purples making it another colorful flower to add to your winter garden.


Perennials are plants that persist for many growing seasons. Generally the top portion of the plant dies back and regrows the following year from the same root system . There are good perennial choices for the winter garden. Here are some good choices for the winter garden.

Hardy Cyclamen (Cyclamen coum)

hardy clycamen

This is another beautiful, low-maintenance winter flower that in addition to varying flower shades of pink, it also has foliage interest because of its dappled, silver color,” Smith said. They bloom usually in the fall or spring, depending on the species, but can be planted in the winter as well to brighten up a garden. Hardy cyclamens spread across the ground creating a “carpet in the leaf litter” as she described the plant. They grow in part shade.

And a plus for growing these flowers is that they have a special quality that repels deer from eating them.


After the initial planting, bulbs are low maintenance and can return for many years. Bulbs can create lots of color and are perfect for late winter and early spring. Many bulbs are deer resistant as well. Some bulb suggestions are:

  • Daffodils
  • Crocus
  • Snowdrops
  • Hellebores


Tips for preparing your flower bed for winter gardening

When getting ready to make room for your winter flowers and provide adequate living situations for your perennials, some tidying up needs to happen. Make sure you clean your garden of all old, dead and blackened annuals so they will not run the risk of spreading diseases or insect eggs to your new plants.

Once rid of old and dead leftovers, spread a new level of rich mulch over your garden to protect your plants and soil during the cold months. “Adding compost to the existing soil and gently mixing in where space allows and dividing  overgrown perennials gives you more to spread around,”  Smith advised.

Remember to keep adequate drainage for both annuals and perennials that live in beds. Roots do not do well with continuous water around them. Smith suggests an idea to create good drainage. “Before planting build a slightly raised, or mound bed area by adding compost or chipped leaves from your yard.

To learn more about how to enhance your garden and landscape, check out Alabama Extension’s “Gardening in the South” series. You can find the series on iBooks.

Based on proven Master Gardener training and seasoned with university research, the “Gardening in the South” series of books is packed with information, tips and tricks to being a successful Southern gardener.

More Resources:

Herbaceous Perennials in Alabama

Annual Bedding Plants 

About Whitney Jones