We're calling it: winter flowering shrubs are the ultimate tool in any gardener's arsenal, adding some much-needed vibrancy and texture (not to mention a bevy of beautiful winter flowers that bloom at Christmas) to our backyards when the weather outside is frightful.
So, which shrubs are worth embracing in your garden when it's cold and miserable outside?
The best winter flowering shrubs
We get it: you've already got a lot to do in your garden this season, especially now you're having to suss out how to protect plants from frosts.
To help you out, then, we've consulted the gardening experts to help you sift between the numerous flowering evergreen shrubs on offer – as well as, more generally, which shrubs actually flower in winter in the UK.
Hey, it's the easiest way to add colour to a winter garden!
1. Winter heathers
If you're hoping your winter flowering shrubs might add a dash of Nordic coastal garden chic to your outdoor space, you need to consider planting winter heathers.
'Known for their enchanting pink and purple colours, winter heathers are the perfect addition to any garden,' promises Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries.
Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants, which he established after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex in 1992.
'They are renowned for having a long blooming season, between November all the way through to April and are relatively low maintenance.'
Personally, we're big fans of the ground-covering Erica × darleyensis 'Ghost Hills' from Crocus – it promises an abundance of pinkish purple flowers from late winter to mid-spring.
2. Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'
'If you're looking to add some pretty colour and fragrance to your garden border ideas during the winter months, Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn' is a great choice,' says Charlotte McGrattan, nursery stock buyer at Hillier.
'This winter flowering shrub is renowned for its stunning pink blooms, which are not only beautiful but also very fragrant when they emerge in the colder month. Plus, it's a winter favourite for both you and local wildlife.'
Where to buy Viburnun x bodnantense 'Dawn':
- Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn' from Thompson & Morgan
- Viburnum × bodnantense 'Dawn' from Crocus
- Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ 3L from Hillier
3. Edgeworthia chrysantha 'Red Dragon'
If you're looking for a winter flowering shrub that well and truly stands out from the crowd, you need a little dgeworthia chrysantha 'Red Dragon' in your life.
'For a more unusual choice I love this shrub which produces vibrant red/orange scented blooms during later winter,' says award-winning garden designer Zoe Claymore.
Zoe Claymore is a multi award-winning garden designer based in London. She focuses on creating outdoor places with emotional connection and ecological integrity for her private and commercial clients.
'I love this winter flowering shrub for its slight out-of-worldly look as much as I do for its scent, which is truly gorgeous to enjoy in a sunny corner,' adds Zoe.
'It also has an excellent form to create shadow – an easy garden idea that will help your garden look extra-special this winter.'
There aren't many places that stock this gorgeous shrub, but you can buy yourself an Edgeworthia chrysantha 'Red Dragon' from Gardening Express.
4. Winter honeysuckle
Counted among the best winter flowers by many gardening experts, winter honeysuckle is an almost indestructible plant that promises beautiful blooms when it's cold outside.
'Fill your garden with large, cream/white flowers by planting winter honeysuckle,' says Morris.
'The best part? These flowers are really fragrant, making your garden smell beautiful. The fragrance is very sweet and lemony!'
Where to buy winter honeysuckle:
5. Sarcococca confusa
Another sweetly-scented winter flowering shrub, Sarcococca confusa proved a popular choice with all of our gardening experts.
'An evergreen shrub that is both versatile and elegant, this variety of sweet box, with its glossy, dark green leaves and delicate, fragrant white flowers in winter, is sure to catch both the eye and the nose of anyone who passes by,' promises Charlotte.
Adding that it's considered a very beginner-friendly plant (not to mention ideal for dark borders, north-facing gardens, or woodland-style backyards), Charlotte says sweet box 'is an excellent choice for gardeners looking to add a touch of grace to their outdoor landscape.'
Where to buy Sarcococca confusa:
- Sarcococca confusa from Crocus
- Sarcococca confusa from Thompson & Morgan
- Sarcococca confusa 2L from Hillier
6. Cornus sanguinea 'midwinter sun'
If you're looking for a twist on the classic winter flowering shrub, try a cornus (or dogwood). Grown not for their flowers but for their dazzling winter stems, Zoe counts these among her very favourite seasonal plants.
Noting that the Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' from Crocus showcases spectacular orange, red and yellow bare stems come the colder months, Zoe insists it will 'creates multi-tonal drama and look phenomenal against frost.'
7. Oregon grape
If you're in the market for vibrant conical flowers, the Oregon Grape could be the one for you.
'This winter flowering shrub is an evergreen, which means it thrives in your garden all year-around,' says Morris.
'In the colder months, though, you'll find it blooming with the most vibrant yellow flowers that will brighten up any garden!'
Again, not many places stock this little beauty, but you can pick up a Mahonia x media 'Winter Sun' from Thompson & Morgan for £11.99.
One of our favourite winter gardening ideas, planting certain varieties of this charming evergreen (such as daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ or daphne bholua 'Darjeeling') will mean your garden will be blessed with richly fragrant flowers throughout the colder months.
Just be sure to plant it somewhere that you pass by regularly to make sure you can enjoy their delicious scent.
Where to buy winter-flowering daphnes:
- Daphne odora from Crocus
- Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' from Thompson & Morgan
- Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill' from Crocus
What shrubs flower in winter in UK?
If you're on the hunt for winter flowering shrubs that will bloom even in the darkest and bleakest of months, you'll be surprised to learn you're somewhat spoilt for choice.
You might like to consider:
1. Cornus sanguinea 'midwinter sun'
2. Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'
3. Sarcococca confusa
4. Edgeworthia chrysantha 'red dragon'
5. Winter Heathers
6. Winter Honeysuckle
7. Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’
8. Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’
What flowers can still bloom in the winter?
From irises to snowdrops, hellebores to pansies, there are plenty of gorgeous winter flowers to fill your garden with. Don't forget to stock up on violas and cyclamen, too.
What evergreen has white flowers in winter?
'Sometimes also known as Winter Box or even Christmas Box, Sarcococca Conufsa is a sweet-smelling festive flowering plant that is very hardy and can survive particularly cold weather,' says Morris.
It boasts glossy evergreen leaves and vibrant white flowers.
Now that you know which winter flowering shrubs are worth investing in, it's time to decide which one(s) will grace your garden over the bleak midwinter months.
We'll race you to the garden centre...
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Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.
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