Between white snow and bare, grey tree branches, most landscapes can look pretty monochromatic during the dead of winter, but homeowners in search of winter plants to add a splash of color to their snowy front yards are in luck. These five plants lend bright colors to an otherwise colorless landscape, providing an eye-catching accent or focal point to your lawn or winter garden. Check the USDA Hardiness Zone Map to see which plants are best-suited to your climate.
Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea) is a compact shrub that has something going on just about every time of year. White blossoms in summer give way to showy yellow leaves in fall. In winter, the leaves are shed to reveal the bright red bark that gives the plant its name and adds a brilliant accent of color to winter landscapes. Red wig dogwood thrives in hardiness zones 2 to 9, making it suitable for just about any climate in the United States aside from the warmest parts of Florida, Texas and California.
Nothing says Christmas like holly, and you can choose among several species that provide a variety of winter colors. American Holly (Ilex opaca) is the classic variety, with shiny evergreen leaves and bright red berries that stay on the branches through the winter. The related Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata) variety known as ‘Winter Gold’ loses its foliage to reveal bright golden-yellow berries in winter. Most hollies can grow in zones 5 through 8.
Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica) is a broad-leafed evergreen shrub that holds onto its glossy, dark-green leaves all year. The shrub also sports white, rose-like blossoms that appear in late winter and hang around through spring. Japanese Camellia is best suited to warmer climates, faring well in zones 7 to 9.
Native to the eastern United States and grown from Florida to Nova Scotia, American Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a large shrub – or small tree, depending on your point of view – that sheds its leaves in fall, but not before they turn a bright golden color. Then, from October to December, the bare branches bloom with dangling yellow flowers that appear even more brilliant in front of a snowy landscape. Witch Hazel thrives in hardiness zones 3 to 9.
Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa), also known as Japanese Quince, is one of the earliest-blooming shrubs in spring, often busting out in red, pink and white flowers while the snow is still on the ground. Durable and easy to grow, Flowering quince is suitable for zones 4 to 9, allowing it to grow in all but the absolute coldest parts of the United States.