If there ever is a time when you need some colour in your life, it’s those drab, grey winter days. Luckily, while many plants prefer to keep their flowers hidden away until spring, there are some that aren’t put off by the cold. These plants that will flower in winter are a great way to bring some life and colour into your home when icicles start to hang from the eaves.
African Violet (Saintpaulia)
African violets come in a variety of colours, such as purple, pink and white. Native to tropical east Africa, they prefer bright but indirect light. In winter, a sunny east-facing window is the ideal place to keep them.
Rieger begonias are a begonia hybrid bred specifically as winter flowering plants. They come in colours like pink, yellow, orange and even deep red. They like bright, indirect light and a bit of extra humidity during winter.
Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)
Winter jasmine’s Chinese name, yingchun, means “the flower that welcomes spring”. It’s a hardy, frost-resistant plant that will do well in outdoor plant pots, either as a hanging or a climbing plant, as long as it’s in a sunny location sheltered from the wind. The flowers range from white to bright yellow.
Winter Heath (Erica carnea)
Also called winter-flowering heather or alpine heath, the winter heath is native to the mountains of Central and Southern Europe. They come in colours such as pink and white and they’re among the hardiest of the outdoor winter plants. Not even snow will deter them.
Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas)
One of your best options for winter garden plants is the Cornelian cherry, a shrub or small tree in the dogwood family. It blooms in late winter, bringing splashes of yellow to your garden, and has adapted to Canada’s freezing temperatures. A bonus is that in fall, the Cornelian cherry produces tasty fruit.
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)
Native to Europe, snowdrops are often regarded as wildflowers in Canada. However, you can plant the bulbs in your garden early in the fall and watch them flower in winter. They’re best planted in groups, for instance along the garden path, for a pretty display among the snow.
Oriental Paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha)
One of the best winter plants for BC’s milder climate is the Oriental paperbush or Edgeworthia, a shrub native to China. In Japan it’s called mitsumata and its bark is used to make mitsumata paper. It prefers sunny spots and usually produces yellow flowers. However, you may be able to find red varieties too.
Amaryllis (Amaryllis belladonna)
The amaryllis is native to South Africa and from the end of December, it produces clusters of flowers, usually white or pink, on a leafless stem. This makes it one of the most beautiful indoor plants to give as a gift for the holidays. You can even make it flower again by digging up the bulb after the flowers have faded, storing it for at least six weeks and then planting it again.
Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)
The Christmas cactus gets its name from the fact that it usually flowers only once a year, just around the time when Santa Claus is making his rounds. There are six species, all native to Brazil, where they tend to flower in May. They grow best in hanging baskets and are easy to care for. Here are some tips to get your Christmas cactus to bloom.
Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus radicans)
When the lipstick plant starts to bloom, the red buds look like little tubes of lipstick: hence the name. This plant is native to the Malay Peninsula and makes a great hanging plant. It needs humidity and lots of bright but indirect light. The lipstick plant usually blooms in late summer or fall but with a little luck, can also flower in winter.
Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe sp.)
Pronounced something like “kahlunkohee”, the kalanchoe is native mainly to Madagascar and the tropical parts of Africa. There are about 125 species of this succulent and the flowers come in a wide variety of colours, including shades of red, pink, orange and yellow. They need full sun and normal room temperatures and are very easy to care for.
Impatiens (Impatiens sp.)
Sometimes also called jewelweed, snapweed or touch-me-not, impatiens includes about a thousand species. They’re usually sold as garden plants but don’t tolerate frost, so unless you live in BC’s milder climes, you may want to grow them in pots and bring them in during winter. Artificial light during this time will encourage them to bloom.
Geranium (Geranium sp.)
With over 400 species, geraniums come in a wide variety of bright colours. Most species are native to the Mediterranean, where they are ubiquitous growing in pots in windowsills. Some species are more tolerant of Canadian winter conditions than others but most grow well when placed in full sunlight in south- or west-facing windows.
Persian Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum)
Native to the Mediterranean, the Persian cyclamen is a cyclamen species that typically blooms in winter. There are different varieties with flowers coming in shades of white, pink and red. Persian cyclamens grow best in sunny windows.
Moth Orchids (Phalaenopsis)
Orchids are notoriously difficult to grow but moth orchids are among the easiest to care for. There are around 60 species and numerous hybrids, so they come in a wide variety of colours. Moth orchids prefer warmer temperatures and humid conditions and they can bloom for as many as six months at a time.
Flowering Maple (Abutilon sp.)
The flowering maple’s leaves look like tiny versions of the leaf on the Canadian flag but the plant is actually a kind of mallow. Some hybrids of this bushy indoor plant bloom in the warmer months but there are also hybrids that bloom in winter. They like bright light and come in colours like red, pink, orange and yellow.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary isn’t typically grown for its flowers but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let this culinary stand-by brighten up your winter kitchen. Depending on the cultivar, rosemary flowers can be white, pink, blue, lavender or even violet. This robust plant is best brought in during winter and kept in a pot in the kitchen windowsill, where it can get lots of bright sunlight and the leaves are handy for snipping as you’re cooking those cold-weather roasts.
Hawaiian Wedding Flower (Stephanotis floribunda)
The Hawaiian wedding flower is actually native to Madagascar but as its name suggests, it’s a popular flower for weddings. The star-shaped white blooms have a fragrance not unlike that of jasmine. Even though the plant typically flowers in summer, it can produce blooms in winter too if kept indoors in a sunny spot.
String-of-Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)
One of the more unusual indoor plants to grow in a hanging basket is the string-of-pearls, also known as the string-of-beads. It’s a succulent native to dry southwestern Africa, so it’s a hardy, low-maintenance plant. With proper care, it can bloom in winter, with its white flowers giving off a faint scent of cinnamon and cloves: perfect for cold weather!
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
The festive season would not be the same without bright red poinsettias adding colour to your holiday decorations. The red bits are actually leaves while the flowers are the tiny yellow clusters in the middle. Poinsettia plants prefer bright, indirect light and are best kept away from drafts.