Here are ten easy-to-grow bulbs and perennials which flower in the winter months. Together these gems provide a continual succession of colour through the difficult months from December to February.
Between them, they bridge the gap between the late-season perennials such as Dhalia, Nerines and Chrysanthemum (which often continue well into November) and the main spring surge when Narcissus, forget-me-nots and Tulips take centre stage in March and April.
(All photos from my own garden)
Winter Flowering Perennials
These stylish little bedding cyclamen really brighten early winter. Although some get knocked back by frosts others persist into the New Year. Left in the ground, they may come back year after year. Good in pots too. (15 x15 cm)
Dec | Jan ○◐
In my garden the wild primrose often comes into flower early in December and continues right through winter into March. the petals are more harmed by slugs than frosts. They like sun or part-shade. (20 x25 cm)
Dec | Jan | Feb+ ○◐
(Helleborus x ericsmithii)
In my experience, hybrid Eric Smith’s hellebore is far more reliable than H. niger (the standard Christmas rose). Flowering begins in mid December and continues through the winter. Sun or part-shade. (40 x 50 cm)
Dec | Jan | Feb+ ○◐
Flowering in January and February this lime-tolerant sub-shrub provides winter colour on the darkest winter day. It comes in many shades of pink and purple as well as white. Prefers a sunny open site (35 x 40 cm)
Jan | Feb ○
Dainty yet hardy and reliable, this perennial is best planted ‘in the green’ rather than from bulbs which tend to dry out. They thrive in a lightly shaded spot — under deciduous trees or shrubs is ideal. (15 x 20 cm)
Jan | Feb ◐
Of the numerous hybrids available, some open in January, others in February, then flower for weeks. Strangely fascinating, they are robust and reliable plants. It is best to remove the old leaves in early winter. Sun or shade.(40 x 50cm)
Jan | Feb+ ○◐●
(Crocus x cultorum ‘Jeanne D’arc’)
There are many early crocuses to choose from in shades of purple, yellow and white. ‘Jeanne D’arc’ flowers in sunny turf in my garden from the start of February: A favourite of early pollinators. Full sun. (10 x 10cm)
Unexpected, perhaps, but this North African daisy starts flowering in January. Give it a free draining soil in a sunny raised bed and it will grow away strongly. The pink daisies look beautiful against the mound of blue-green foliage. (30 x 60cm)
Jan | Feb+ ○
(Ipheion Alberto Castillo)
This allium relative has white (or blue) star shaped flowers 4cm across. In my garden the first flower opened in January, but by March the plants will be smothered in blooms. After its summer dormancy fresh frost-free foliage emerges in autumn. Sun. (25 x 30)
Early bulbous iris
Fleeting but stunning in February. Iris reticulata is stunning at its peak. These bulbs like an open sunny position and will flower year after year when happy. Mine grow on my green roof where they are sun-baked in summer. (15 x 10cm)
2 thoughts on “10 Winter-Flowering perennials”
Can I ask how cold your winters get? I really appreciate all the detailed information on this page, the roof garden, Euphorbia myrsinites, etc. I’m in Pennsylvania, US, and our winters can get down to about -23°C.
I’m on the south coast of England, 6 miles from the sea. Winters rarely get below -10C, and even that is rare. I’m sure many of my plants would fail to get through -23C! That said, soil moisture matters. I can leave dahlia tubers in the ground overwinter as long as it isn’t too wet, and I overwinter succulents by keeping them dry in an unheated greenhouse.