Simple Winter Gardening Guide: Thriving Plants & Colorful Blooms

As the frost sets in, you might think your gardening duties are over until spring. But think again! Winter offers a unique opportunity to showcase the enduring beauty of your garden.

From the golden hues of evergreens to the delicate blooms of winter flowers, our guide will help you navigate the chilly months with ease. Whether you’re in the snowy North or the milder South, these tips will ensure your garden remains a winter wonderland.

Key Takeaways of Winter Gardening Guide

  • Utilize variegated and golden evergreens to add color to your garden during the dreary winter months.
  • Engage in light pruning and planting in December, and protect sensitive plants with mulch to prepare for colder days.
  • Order seeds and plants for the upcoming spring, and maintain garden structure by pruning and safeguarding against snow.
  • Continue to prune and check the firmness of the soil, and enjoy the late winter blooms that defy the cold.
  • Regularly update your gardening strategies based on the latest regional advice to keep your garden thriving.
  • Lay the groundwork for a lush spring garden by following winter care tips and planning ahead.


Chief source of massed color this month is provided by the foliage of evergreens, particularly those variegated or colored with gold or yellow, or of a fresh green color. Viburnum bodnantense provides clusters of pink flowers at its shoot tips and the winter-flowering jasmine makes a prominent display with its bright-yellow flowers.

Winter Gardening Guide
Plant Covered with Frost

Earliest of the winter-flowering heathers (Erica), which will have been showing promise for weeks, cover themselves with bright flowers, and the first frail blooms of Iris unguicularis can be found nestling amidst their grassy foliage.

Take the opportunity of mild spells to prune leafless shrubs in need of attention. Also plant late-arriving shrubs and plants if the ground is not too wet and sticky: if it is, heel the plants in together in a well-drained spot until conditions improve.

Tidy established borders, lightly forking over the soil among the plants.

Winter Gardening Guide
Dry Grass Covered with Brittle Frost and Snow on a Cold Winter Day

At the same time mix in old mulching material, and add a dressing of manure if available. Feed with bone meal established hedges and areas planted with bulbs. Border plants, such as Japanese Anemones, Perennial Anchusas, and Border Phloxes, can be propagated from root cuttings taken now.

Order seeds for sowing next season; also shrubs and plants to set out in the spring to fill gaps or create new groupings. Cover the soil over plants of doubtful hardiness with straw, bracken, or tree leaves held in place with wire netting, to give extra frost protection in the coming months.

Key Winter Gardening Tasks

Winter’s frosty embrace is not a signal for gardeners to retreat but an invitation to prepare; it’s a time when the quiet earth and bare branches whisper secrets of spring’s resurgence. Embrace these key winter gardening tasks, and transform the coldest months into the foundation of your garden’s future glory.

  •     Prune leafless shrubs and late bloomers.
  •     Plant new shrubs and protect sensitive plants with mulch.
  •     Propagate border plants like Japanese anemones and perennial anchusas.


This is often thought of as a completely colorless month in the garden, but there is quite a number of plants that bloom then. The winter-flowering jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) is generously spangled with its bright yellow blooms that are continuously produced whenever the weather is mild, and some cultivars of the winter-flowering heather (Erica) are smothered in their tiny blooms, shining even through the snow.

Winter Gardening Guide
Snow-Covered Zucchini and Pumpkins on a Haystack in Autumn

In milder areas Garrya elliptica is hung with its long, silver catkins to give a charming display, snowdrops (Galanthus) have appeared in many gardens, and Iris unguicularis opens its lilac blooms throughout the winter months. Towards the end of January, winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) begin to flower in the sunshine to provide a touch of sparkling yellow in sheltered spots.

More color is provided by the bark of some trees and shrubs, none more eye-catching than the brilliant crimson young shoots of the dogwood (Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’), while the colored-leaved evergreens, such as the variegated hollies and ivy and the golden conifers, create an impression of sunniness even on overcast days.

Strawberry Leaves Covered with Frost
Strawberry Leaves Covered with Frost

Jobs to be done this month include the digging of ground ready for spring sowing and planting, as well as ordering the seeds, shrubs, and plants if this has not already been done. Prune ornamental vines trained on walls and pergolas; also other deciduous trees and shrubs in need of such treatment.

If there is a heavy fall of snow, knock it off the branches of conifers and other evergreens; if their shoots are weighed down for long their shape may be spoiled. Make sure that the tender tubers and corms of plants such as dahlias and gladioli are well protected from frost with a mulch.

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Although this is often the harshest winter month, cold fails to deter the witch hazels or Daphne mezereum from opening their scented flowers now. The winter-flowering heathers continue to bloom profusely, regardless of frost and snow, while the winter-flowering jasmine and Viburnum x bodnantense open a fresh crop of flowers as soon as each cold spell passes.

The first dainty blooms of the dwarf Cyclamen orbiculatum often appear this month and the yellow winter aconites get into their stride if it is sunny.

Shrub or Bush with Frost Damage and Dead Leaves
Shrub or Bush with Frost Damage and Dead Leaves

The scented strings of pale yellow Mahonia japonica flowers open at the shoot tips, and the first winter crocuses open wide in any warming ray of sun. The dwarf yellow Iris Danfordiae and Blue I. Histrioides flower, to be joined towards the end of the month by the first few purple blooms of I. reticulata in many places.

Retread the soil around newly planted trees and shrubs to firm it again when it dries out after heavy frost. Also push back into the ground any hardwood cuttings of shrubs that have been lifted by frost, and reform the soil about them. Check posts, pales, trellis, and wires used as plant supports and replace or tighten any that are broken or loose before the plants break into new growth.

Prune All Clematis Plants
Prune All Clematis Plants

The end of the month is the time to prune those cultivars of Cornus alba grown for the bright winter coloring of their young shoots, to encourage a new crop the following summer.

This is the time, too, to prune all clematis plants except the small-flowered ones, such as Clematis Montana, that bloom early. Shear off the old foliage from the Rose of Sharon (Hypericum calycinum), ivies, and other fast-spreading plants before new growth begins.

Keep Your Garden Alive with Winter Care

With the right care, your garden can be just as lively and beautiful in winter as it is in the warmer months. Follow our monthly guide to keep your plants thriving and your garden full of color and life. Regular updates to our guide ensure you have the latest advice at your fingertips, tailored to your region’s specific needs.

Ready Your Garden for Spring’s Arrival

Don’t let the cold weather fool you—winter is the time to lay the groundwork for a stunning spring garden. Follow our guide, and come spring, your neighbors will marvel at your foresight and green thumb!

So, grab your gloves and let’s give your garden the care it deserves.

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As the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, your garden still holds a treasure trove of gardening opportunities. With our winter gardening guide, you’ll have all the tips and tricks at your fingertips to ensure your garden not only survives but thrives during the winter months. Keep your garden vibrant and full of life through the frosty season and beyond!

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