Top 25 plants to grow for winter

Val Bourne
Top 25 plants to grow for Winter  - Moment RF

Gardens can stay vibrant and full of life even when winter is coming. But the temperature drop does not limit the variety of plants available.

Winter sun can give life to fragrant honeysuckle and winter jasmine, to name a few. Instead of being a bleak wasteland, gardens can be an oasis of yellows, oranges and darker hues - such as purple and blue. It's also an environment where you can help wildlife thrive.  

Don't give up on your vegetable patch either, as there are plenty of vegetables to grow in winter. It may be best to grow these in the greenhouse, though - especially peas and broad beans. To give your garden a helping hand, Val Bourne has come up with a shortlist of the 25 best plants to grow that will transform your garden into a winter wonderland. 

1. Rosebud cherry 'Autumnalis Rosea' (Prunus x subhirtella)

Perfectly formed, frilled pale pink blossoms sprinkle through dark, bare tracery of branches for weeks of subtle flowering from November until February. Easy to grow (7.5m/25ft).

2. Sweet box (Sarcococcaconfusa)

Credit: Martin Pope

Dark green, glossy foliage that looks handsome all year, with fragrant ivory flowers followed by black berries. Elegant and perfect for containers. Likes moisture (1.5m/5ft).

3. Fern-leaved clematis (Clematis cirrhosa var. balearica)

Dark, ferny foliage highlights a profusion of pendent, pale cream bells spotted in maroon. A saviour for early bees. Do not prune! South-facing wall (3m/10ft).

4. Nepalese paper plant 'Jacqueline Postill' (Daphne bholua)

Scented clusters of waxy pink flowers and lavish foliage. Flowers in January. Good soil, warm position (3m/10ft).

5. Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

Credit: Martin Pope

The winter aconite only opens its bright yellow globes in warm sunshine. Perfect under a tree or on a grassy bank (6cm/2in).

6. Hellebores (Helleborus x ericsmithii)

Credit: Heathcliff O'Malley

Silver-washed, serrated foliage and white saucers on strong stems begin in midwinter before fading to rose pink. Part shade (30cm/12in).

7. Himalayan birch 'Grayswood Ghost' (Betula utilis var. jacquemontii)

A charcoal study with striking, silk-textured, white bark and slate-black twigs. Good yellow leaves in autumn. Easy (18m/60ft).

8. Oregon grape 'Winter Sun' (Mahonia x media

Radiating crowns of lemon yellow flower spikes above handsome, spiny foliage. The fragrant flowers light up shade and lift a November day (4m/13ft).

9. Holly 'Alaska' (Ilexaquifolium) 

Credit: Martin Pope

A spiny holly with smaller olive-green leaves. Ideal for clipping into tight shapes, or for cloud-cut hedges. Forms a conical bush if left. Good drainage (3m-7.5m/10ft-25ft).

10. Snowdrop 'S. Arnott' (Galanthus)

Galanthus snowdrops

Tall, elegant snowdrop with pearl-drop flowers. Loves a sunny bank and spreads well, but slow to establish at first (28cm/11in).

11. Flowering Japanese Apricot 'Beni-chidori' 'Prunus mume'

February needs this dramatic Japanese apricot with its dark branches clothed with almond-scented, madder-pink flowers. Accommodating (3m/10ft).

12. Honeysuckle 'Winter Beauty' (Lonicera x purpusii)

The most floriferous winter honeysuckle of all, with fragrant, creamy white flowers. Accommodating, flowers when young (2m x 2m/6.5ft x 6.5ft).

13. Algerian iris 'Mary Barnard' (Iris unguicularis)

Credit: Peter Payne

An Algerian iris that starts in November and climaxes in a March extravaganza of violet-blue. South-facing wall (40cm/16in).

14. Dogwood 'Midwinter Fire' (Cornussanguinea)

Credit: Eddie Mulholland

A flickering bonfire of orange, pink and shot-silk twigs. Plant en masse where winter sun falls and thin the shoots lightly. Never cut back hard. Accommodating (1.5m/5ft).

15. Perovskia 'Blue Spire' (Perovskiaatriplicifolia)

Credit: Clive Nichols/Getty Images

Russian sage produces a winter skeleton of silver-white stems that rise up vertically from the ground. Good soil and a sunny position (1m/3ft).

16. Edging box 'Suffruticosa' (Buxussempervirens)

The essential box for winter structure. Clip into tight shapes or low hedges in June. Repeat in September if needed. Good drainage (60cm-100cm/2ft-3ft).

17. Narcissus 'Cedric Morris'

Sun-loving, tiny daffodil that flowers by Christmas. Yellow flowers washed in green. Sun or woodland (20cm-30cm/8in-12in).

18. Martin's spurge (Euphorbia x martini)

Velvety rosettes of weather-resistant, sage green foliage topped by spikes of lime flowers, each warmed by a tomato-red eye. Woodland (40cm/16in).

19. Christmas berry 'Red Robin' (Photinia x fraseri)

Light up winter with this compact mound of evergreen leaves topped by startling ruby-red new shoots (2.4m/8ft).

20. Winter jasmine (Jasminumnudiflorum)

Winter jasmine peppers its stems with acid-yellow flowers from November. Easy to train if cut back hard after flowering. Accommodating (4m/13ft).

21. Witch hazel 'Pallida' (Hamamelis x intermedia)

Credit: Richard Bloom/Getty Images

Spidery flowers by early January; the sulphur-yellow ribbons are scented and stand out well. Deep soil (3m x 4m/10ft x 13ft).

22. Skimmia 'Kew Green' (Skimmia x confusa)

Credit: Martin Pope

Compact mound of evergreen foliage supporting conical heads of ivory-white buds. Shade-tolerant (1.5m/5ft).

23. Black mondo 'Nigrescens' (Ophiopogon planiscapus)

Credit: Martin Pope

Ground-hugging black, grass-like plant that flatters snowdrops or pale crocus. Add drama to containers by pairing with red cyclamen. Hot spot (8cm/5in).

24. Cotoneaster 'Hybridus Pendulus' 

The weeping branches of this small, semi-evergreen tree are laden with berries that birds ignore. Good drainage (3m/10ft).

25. Box-leaf azara (Azaramicrophylla)

Chilean wall shrub with inconspicuous yellow flowers that pack a fragrant vanilla punch on a mild day. Sunny wall (5m/16ft).