50 flowers that bloom in winter

Written by:
December 12, 2019
Vinayaraj // Wikimedia Commons

50 flowers that bloom in winter

Far from being a time when plants are dying and nonexistent, many flowers thrive in wintertime. More than a few exhibit their best colors during the cold months, producing fruits and leaves that are used in an array of medicines, foods, and ceremonies.

Shriveling leaves and snow-covered ground may give the appearance that winter has detrimental effects on plants—especially those that are strongly associated with the onset of spring. However, winter plays a crucial role in facilitating blooms. Many flowers are formed during winter the year before they bloom when their buds use the dormant season to cultivate petals internally. Many other flowers require exposure to cold or shorter day lengths to bloom. The warmth of spring triggers them to unfold and reveal the full flowers that have been forming inside. As climate change causes shorter and milder winters, the blooming process is disrupted. This causes spring flowers to bloom earlier and shortens the lifespans of many overwintering species.

Stacker consulted the Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder database to curate a gallery of 50 unique flowers that bloom in winter. All the plants on this list bloom in at least one of the following months: November, December, and January. The plants are organized alphabetically by scientific name. Many are native to warm climates and have spread to more temperate parts of the U.S., particularly the Gulf Coast and Southwest. Plants marked as "seasonal bloomer" and "flowers freely" will bloom in multiple seasons, and the plants with these classifications on this list are categorized as "winter hardy" by the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Read on to discover flower species that bloom in the winter and where they can be found. Each slide also lists the physical, medicinal, and cultural characteristics that make them unique.

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Cliff // Flickr

Urn plant

- Scientific name: Aechmea fasciata
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

Native to southeastern Brazil, the urn plant can be purchased across the U.S. as a flowering houseplant. Though it dies after blooming just once, that bloom is vibrant, showing off a pyramid-shaped cluster of purple flowers surrounded by bright pink bracts.

 

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Don McCulley // Wikimedia Commons

Stalked aeonium

- Scientific name: Aeonium undulatum
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

The stalked aeonium is a welcome addition to many succulent or cactus collections and can be usefully mixed with aloe and agave plants. It is originally native to the Canary Islands.

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Vengolis // Wikimedia Commons

Siamese ginger

- Scientific name: Alpinia galanga
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

The Siamese ginger is native to Southeast Asia. It is frequently used in cooking, particularly in Thai, Malaysian, Singaporean, and Indonesian food. It is typically cut up into small pieces, thin-sliced, and pounded into a paste. They are also dried up and made into a powder to be used as a flavoring in soups and curries.

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Matt Lavin // Flickr

Beard grass

- Scientific name: Andropogon gerardii
- Bloom period: September to February

Beard grass, true to its name, once spread across the Midwest from Canada to Mexico. Native to Missouri, it is tall and changes color from season to season, lending itself as a frequent accent to many wildflower gardens.

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Forest and Kim Starr // Wikimedia Commons

Bushy bluestem

- Scientific name: Andropogon glomeratus
- Bloom period: September to February

The bushy bluestem prefers moist environments in the eastern and southern states, popping up near marshes or swamps. Its striking coloring makes it an attractive addition to many gardens and dried flower collections.

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Andreas Theodorakatos

Strawberry tree

- Scientific name: Arbutus unedo
- Bloom period: October to December

Despite outward appearances, few would want to eat the strawberry tree’s fruit, which has a similar color to actual strawberries. They are edible but “exceedingly bland.” What the tree’s fruit lacks in taste, its flowers make up for in color and scent.

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Vengolis // Wikimedia Commons

Philippine violet

- Scientific name: Barleria cristata
- Bloom period: September to December

The Philippine violet originally grew in a stretch from India to Myanmar to southern China, but today can be successfully grown in parts of Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, and California. Many will include it as an eye-catching addition to their gardens. The plant produces pink and purple flowers with distinctive white stripes.

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Man-wah Leung // Wikimedia Commons

Hong Kong orchid tree

- Scientific name: Bauhinia × blakeana
- Bloom period: November to April

The Hong Kong orchid tree is often planted for ornamental use, with many collecting its flowers for display in vases and other arrangements, as it is “considered to have the best ornamental flowers in the genus.” Often grown in warm U.S. climates, including Hawaii, California, Arizona, Florida, and Texas, it is native to China.

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Dinesh Valke // Flickr

Flame of the forest

- Scientific name: Butea monosperma
- Bloom period: January to March

The flame of the forest requires a specific habitat to thrive. Its originally found in humid forests in parts of India and Sri Lanka. The seeds, leaves, gum, and flowers offer therapeutic benefits, and they are each used for different medicinal properties.

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Daryl Mitchell // Wikimedia Commons

Feather reed grass

- Scientific name: Calamagrostis × acutiflora
- Bloom period: June to February

Credit the mathematical-looking scientific name of feather reed grass to its origin. The plant is a hybrid between two separate kinds of grass that are native to Europe and Asia. At times, the hybrid occurs naturally in Europe. When offered moist, lightly shaded areas to grow in, it can be used effectively in rain gardens.

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Krzysztof Golik // Wikimedia Commons

Camellia (C. crapnelliana)

- Scientific name: Camellia crapnelliana
- Bloom period: October to December

Native to southeast China, the camellia tree is particularly hardy in the cold months, blooming in gardens and woodlands during the winter. Unfortunately, the species is frequently victim to multiple diseases, including anthracnose, black mold, and petal blight.

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BS Thurner Hof // Wikimedia Commons

Camellia (C. furfuracea)

- Scientific name: Camellia furfuracea
- Bloom period: December to March

Like camellia crapnelliana, camellia furfuracea is a winter-strong evergreen originally from Southeast Asia. They can be found in China, Vietnam, and Laos. Furfuracea also shares cranelliana’s susceptibility to disease.

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Krzysztof Golik // Wikimedia Commons

Camellia (C. rosiflora)

- Scientific name: Camellia rosiflora
- Bloom period: December to March

When China-born camellia rosiflora evades leaf spots, viruses, canker, and root rot, it can be spotted throughout the winter. It is often used as shrub borders and hedges around lawns, houses, and gardens.

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Paul Munhoven // Wikimedia Commons

Tea tree

- Scientific name: Camellia sinensis
- Bloom period: October to December

The fourth of the camellia species to be used as a winter-hearty shrub, this evergreen uniquely offers additional commercial value as well. It is often cultivated in its native China, Burma, and Sri Lanka, and its leaves are used to make tea.

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David J. Stang // Wikimedia Commons

Umbrella plant

- Scientific name: Cyperus involucratus 'Gracilis'
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

The umbrella plant had steadily spread beyond its origins. It was first introduced to the South before it “escaped gardens and naturalized” in a stretch from Florida to Hawaii. Its persistent growth has become a problem, as it is now invasive in many areas, including Florida.

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Needpix.com

Winter heath

- Scientific name: Erica carnea 'Springwood Pink'
- Bloom period: January to March

Native to the European Alps, the winter heath is particularly sturdy. It's able to grow on slopes and among rocks. When given time, the species can form “a dense ground cover” and is used in some rock gardens.

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Pixabay

Japanese loquat

- Scientific name: Eriobotrya japonica
- Bloom period: November to December

The Japanese loquat produces a juicy, yellow-orange fruit by spring. It is used in jams, jellies, pies, and many other recipes. Native to China and found in California, Louisiana, Florida, and Hawaii, it is often grown commercially, as well as ornamentally.

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Zinnmann // Wikimedia Commons

Freycinetia

- Scientific name: Freycinetia cumingiana
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

The freycinetia is found in the Philippines and Hawaii. They are often shipped to the rest of the U.S. for sale in flower shops. Male flowers are considered more attractive than females, and it is predominantly males that are grown commercially.

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Prenn // Wikimedia Commons

Slender goldshower

- Scientific name: Galphimia gracilis
- Bloom period: Flowers freely

The slender goldshower is most commonly used for personal gardens, and they are often grown as houseplants or in greenhouses. It is native to Central and South America.

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Wendy Cutler // Flickr

Tassel brush

- Scientific name: Garrya × issaquahensis
- Bloom period: December to February

Tassel brush, whose origins are along the U.S. Pacific coastline, cannot grow naturally in the wild, and it must be cultivated in gardens. It's popularly used in winter gardens and within pruned hedges.

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David J. Stang // Wikimedia Commons

Lignum vitae

- Scientific name: Guajacum sanctum
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

The wood of the lignum vitae is “considered to be the hardest wood ever commercially used.” It was used in steamship propellers, mallets, and gears, and it is almost impossible to drive a nail through. The tree is native to Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Today, it's listed as endangered on IUCN’s Red List, primarily due to habitat loss.

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KENPEI // Wikimedia Commons

Japanese witch hazel

- Scientific name: Hamamelis japonica
- Bloom period: January to March

Though noted for its green summer coloring, the Japanese witch hazel is equally admired for its yellow, purple, and red colors in the fall, culminating in striking yellow flowers in the winter. Its variety of tones and fragrances make it a common addition to home gardens. It is native to the mountains of Japan.

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Pixabay

Chinese witch hazel

- Scientific name: Hamamelis mollis
- Bloom period: January to March

Unfortunately for the Japanese witch hazel, the Chinese witch hazel “produces the most fragrant flowers of all the witch hazels.” As such, it is frequently used in gardens and bouquets.

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Needpix.com

Ozark witch hazel

- Scientific name: Hamamelis vernalis
- Bloom period: January to April

The Ozark witch hazel derives its name from its native range—the Ozark Plateau, which encompasses parts of Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. With its generally tall height and winter durability, it is often used in rain gardens.

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Andreas Rockstein // Flickr

Common witch hazel

- Scientific name: Hamamelis virginiana
- Bloom period: October to December

The common witch hazel’s scientific name means “from Virginia,” and the plant can be found in and around forests in the eastern parts of the U.S. It is commonly used in woodland gardens and to border properties.

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Robert Hundsdorfer // Wikimedia Commons

Christmas rose

- Scientific name: Helleborus niger 'Altifolius'
- Bloom period: December to March

This striking plant produces large white flowers that look like roses. Requiring at least some shade to thrive, it is native to forests and alpine areas in southern and Central Europe.

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B.navez // Wikimedia Commons

Chinese hibiscus

- Scientific name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

Originally found in tropical areas across Asia, the Chinese hibiscus blooms “vibrant” pink, yellow, and orange funnel-shaped flowers that are half a foot wide. They make great houseplants, but they require steady sunlight to grow.

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Meneerke bloem // Wikimedia Commons

Flame of the woods

- Scientific name: Ixora casei
- Bloom period: Flowers freely

Native to Micronesia, the flame of the woods is now widely found in tropical areas across the globe. Depending on the location, it can be either winter-hardy or not, which will dictate whether it can be used as an indoor houseplant or outside garden addition.

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Tauʻolunga // Wikimedia Commons

Pacific Island silvergrass

- Scientific name: Miscanthus floridulus
- Bloom period: August to February

The Pacific Island silvergrass is one of the tallest Eulalia grasses. The plant has tough, prominent foliage that grows in clumps of up to 8 feet tall. It is native to Japan, Taiwan, and Guam and can be used ornamentally. Within the U.S, miscanthus mealybug and miscanthus blight are wreaking detrimental effects on the grass’ growth and health.

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Needpix.com

Miscanthus

- Scientific name: Miscanthus oligostachyus
- Bloom period: August to February

Miscanthus oligostachyus is similar in appearance to miscanthus sinensis, its larger relative, and a fixture in gardens, ponds, and other landscaped areas. Like Pacific Island silvergrass, it is originally from Japan, and it is often stricken by mealybug and blight.

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Matt Lavin // Flickr

Chinese silvergrass

- Scientific name: Miscanthus sinensis
- Bloom period: July to February

Chinese silvergrass has spread far past its origins in Japan, Korea, and China, naturalizing in over 25 states east of the Mississippi River. It can often be spotted along the sides of roads and railroads, and it is becoming increasingly invasive.

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Rexness // Flickr

Zebra grass

- Scientific name: Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus'
- Bloom period: August to February

Like Chinese silvergrass, zebra grass has spread semi-invasively from eastern Asia across the U.S. It is recognizable by the yellow stripes that stretch horizontally across its green leaves, and it is often used ornamentally in gardens or as dried flower specimens.

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David J. Stang // Wikimedia Commons

Blushing bromeliad

- Scientific name: Neoregelia carolinae f. tricolor
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

The blushing bromeliad attaches to and grows on other plants, but it is not parasitic. It's known as an epiphyte. Native to southeastern Brazil, it can be kept as a houseplant in humid areas and within well-drained soil.

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David J. Stang // Wikimedia Commons

Bitter switchgrass

- Scientific name: Panicum amarum 'Dewey Blue'
- Bloom period: September to February

Bitter switchgrass has been said to resemble a fountain, with blue flowers extending out of upright stems. It is native to sandy beach areas in eastern coastal states.

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Patrick Alexander // Flickr

Panic grass

- Scientific name: Panicum bulbosum
- Bloom period: July to February

With grey-green foliage and red and brown flowers, panic grass is commonly collected for fresh bouquets and dried flower arrangements. It is native to a stretch of the U.S. from Arizona to New Mexico, with some appearances in Nevada, Texas, and Mexico.

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Jebulon

Switchgrass

- Scientific name: Panicum virgatum
- Bloom period: July to February

Before habitat destruction broke up formerly uninterrupted swaths of prairie in Missouri, switchgrass comprised a significant component of those grasses, standing tall and keeping its stiffness from summer through winter. Today, it is mostly used in wild gardens and found in prairies, meadows, and near ponds.

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Dominicus Johannes Bergsma // Wikimedia Commons

Fountain grass

- Scientific name: Pennisetum alopecuroides
- Bloom period: July to February

In its native eastern Asia and western Australia, fountain grass is frequently cultivated and sold commercially. It produces a variety of purple, pink, and white flowers and is used in many gardens.

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Bruno.karklis // Wikimedia Commons

Jaboticaba

- Scientific name: Plinia cauliflora
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

The jaboticaba plant is most sought after for the grape-like, purple fruit it bears. In its native southeastern Brazil, jaboticaba fruits are used to make jellies and wines.

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Forest & Kim Starr // Wikimedia Commmons

Sweet pea shrub

- Scientific name: Polygala × dalmaisiana
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

The sweet pea shrub can be found in warm regions across the globe, where it blooms pinkish-purple flowers year-round. These pretty products make the shrub popular in gardens, bouquets, and arrangements.

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Ixitixel // Wikimedia Commons

King protea

- Scientific name: Protea cynaroides
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

A regal name is required for the national flower of South Africa. The king protea is admired and cultivated for the huge flowers it produces. Its flowers are red, pink, or white, and can grow up to 12 inches in diameter.

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Salicyna // Wikimedia Commons

Schavleria

- Scientific name: Schaueria flavicoma
- Bloom period: Flowers freely

Those who appreciate the yellow, tube-shaped flowers of the schavleria can grow the plant outside of its native Brazil but must take care to do so gently. The ornamental species can be grown in gardens and indoor containers as long as humidity, shelter, and shade are provided.

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Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz // Wikimedia Commons

Little bluestem

- Scientific name: Schizachyrium scoparium
- Bloom period: August to February

The little bluestem’s native range is broad, encompassing “prairies, fields, clearings, hills, limestone glades, roadsides, waste areas, and open woods from Alberta to Quebec south to Arizona and Florida.” A striking orange color marks its dominating presence in the fall and equally noticeable purple flowers in late summer.

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WayneRay // Wikimedia Commons

Christmas cactus

- Scientific name: Schlumbergera × buckleyi
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

This festive species is a holiday fixture. It's often sold commercially or cultivated as a houseplant, and its red and pink flowers bloom around Christmas. In warmer areas, it can be grown outside throughout the year.

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David Eickhoff // Flickr

Ilima

- Scientific name: Sida fallax
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

This colorful ilima flower blooms in sandy coasts, reefs, lava fields, and pastures year-round. Its yellow, orange, or red flowers are used to make leis in Hawaii, where it is the official flower for the island of Oahu.

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Matt Lavin // Wikimedia Commons

Wood grass

- Scientific name: Sorghastrum nutans
- Bloom period: September to February

Otherwise known as Indian grass, wood grass can appear in a variety of forms, blooming yellow in the summer, turning yellowy-brown in the fall, and fading to gray throughout the winter. It occurs in prairies and open forests throughout Missouri, where it can sometimes be used for erosion control on slopes.

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Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

Frost grass

- Scientific name: Spodiopogon sibiricus
- Bloom period: July to February

This plant thrives in the temperate climate across Southeast Asia. Frost grass displays a “bamboo-like quality," with unique purple tints in various shades. It is often planted in gardens to create “bold architectural patterns.”

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Forest & Kim Starr // Wikimedia Commmons

Tabebuia

- Scientific name: Tabebuia rosea
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

The national tree of El Salvador can also be found in places between Mexico and Venezuela. It plays an essential role in Central America's timber markets.

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Vinayaraj // Wikimedia Commons

Princess flower

- Scientific name: Tibouchina urvilleana
- Bloom period: May to January

The princess flower, which originates in the rainforests of Brazil, thrives in the warm climates of southern Florida and California. The princess flower has also spread to Hawaii, where it has naturalized and is now becoming a noxious weed.

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Tauʻolunga // Wikimedia Commons

Boat lily

- Scientific name: Tradescantia spathacea
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

The boat lily also goes by the monikers "oyster plant" and "Moses-in-a-basket." Native to Central America, its colorful appearance makes it a popular addition to many gardens in tropical areas, particularly those of the West Indies. The plant has also spread to Louisiana and Florida, where it is becoming increasingly invasive.

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Mokkie

Inch plant

- Scientific name: Tradescantia zebrina
- Bloom period: Seasonal bloomer

As a trailing plant, the inch plant is often grown outdoors as groundcover where it is winter hardy and in hanging baskets indoors where it is not. It is native to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.

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