Three Winter Flowering Shrubs

Flowers of Winter Daphne

A mature variegated Winter Daphne – this is the most common type.

Flowering stems of Wintersweet

Winter Jasmine coming into bloom

Winter Jasmine in February in full bloom

Anytime we have a few warm days early in the year, these three shrubs do not miss blooming. Winter daphne is one of the most beautiful and cherished of all the winter flowering shrubs. They are very fragrant and can literally cover the plant in bloom even at an early age. The mature one you see in the image above is a mature specimen and is located in a perfect spot. The variegated ones which are the most common look good in any season. The plants are hard to grow and do not like to be disturbed. The general rule is if they are doing well, don’t touch them. I had three in my garden that size and almost over night they died. I think the problem is some type of root rot. But I can assure you it is a plant worth growing. They like light shade, fertile, well drained soil, and overwatering them can be a killer.
Another winter flowering shrub that is just the opposite and easy to grow is wintersweet. I have one close to our front entry simply to enjoy the winter fragrance when it is in bloom. These are large shrubs and have course leaves. The fragrance of the flowers is outstanding on warm winter days. My shrub is pruned to stay about 8 feet tall, but some of the ones unpruned in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens are over 10 feet tall. While they like fertile soil and good drainage, I have seem they surviving in poor wet soil.
Perhaps the most common of the winter flowering plants is winter jasmine. Mine are beginning to bloom now, and the yellow flowers contrast well with the green stems. As the temperatures warm in February they transform themselves in a beautiful mass of tiny yellow flowers. Again this is an easy plant to grow, and when not in bloom it sort of recedes into the landscape. This is a mounding type shrub that does well in most amended soil in the Birmingham area. Mine are mature at about 4 feet and thrive in light shade, but they do just fine in full sun, too. Unlike winter daphne and wintersweet, their fragrance is minimal. So for a winter flowering plant for your garden all these are fine additions.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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