If you love to garden, winter might be a tough time for you.
Not only is everything blanketed in snow and ice, but your favorite hobby has gone by the wayside.
Luckily, there are a handful of plants that thrive even under the harshest winter conditions.
If you want to keep your green thumb exercised 365 days of the year, here are some of the best plants for you to grow during the winter – and some simple tips to follow.
10 Best Plants for Winter Gardening
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Plant onions in the fall, and you’ll be able to harvest them in the spring.
Onion sets are generally pretty self-sufficient and can take care of themselves during the winter.
Since they have such a long growing season, they won’t be ready until the late spring or early summer anyway.
Choose a variety designed specifically for fall planting, like Onion First Early or Onion Electric. Shallots can also be planted in the fall, with Echalote Grise being one of the best options for offering a hardy crop of shallots with strong, concentrated flavors.
Garlic is an easy plant to grow – one of the few “set and forget” crops that you can cultivate in your backyard garden.
There are plenty of varieties that can be planted in the fall, too. From Wight Cristo to Chesnok Red, you’ll have plenty of choices – both hardneck and softneck garlic can be grown during the winter.
Heather grows especially well in the winter, but you need to make sure you choose the right variety.
Winter-spreading types of heather, also known as ground covers, grow well during the winter months. Don’t confuse heather with heath, though -the latter plant is not nearly as cold-tolerant.
Spinach is a great choice as a winter crop. If you choose a perpetual variety – in other words, spinach that you can cut repeatedly – you will enjoy huge yields of succulent leaves.
In fact, spinach becomes more tender once hit by a light frost. Although spinach won’t survive a heavy snowfall, it will grow long into the cold fall months (and even throughout the entire winter, if you live in the right part of the country).
Just about every holiday song mentions holly, and for good reason – it’s the quintessential winter plant.
You probably recognize the red berries from all of your Christmas decorations, too.
Holly bushes are easy to get established if you plant them earlier in the year, and they can survive the harshest winters.
The plants also provide all-season interest, producing delicate white flowers in the spring.
6. Winter Salad Mix
Depending on where you live, you may be able to get a crop of winter salad mix through the winter months.
If you live in a very cold growing zone, a greenhouse, cloche, or polytunnel can help you make up for the lost heat.
Consider Growing rows of plants like mustard, land cress, or lambs’ lettuce all of which are exceptionally cold hardy.
Peas – they aren’t just for the spring anymore!
You can also grow them in the winter in some places.
Plant an early crop that’s designed to be planted in the fall, like Pea Meteor or Kelvedon Wonder.
These are hardy varieties that should survive during the winter months – and as a bonus, you’ll be able to start harvesting peas about three or four weeks earlier than other gardeners!
8. Winter Jasmine
If you’re looking for a flower to brighten up that dreary winter landscape, you might want to turn to Winter Jasmine.
This plant blooms all winter long and its yellow leaves stand out sharply amidst a white backdrop.
The only downside to growing winter jasmine is that the flowers are not scented – certainly not a deal breaker.
9. Witch Hazel
A commonly used medicinal herb, witch hazel can grow all winter long.
It’s easy to get started and will continue to bloom year after year.
This tree produces orange tendrils of blooms each winter, which will provide a beautiful contrast to your snowy yard.
If you have enough space in your garden, it might be worth your time to plant an asparagus bed or two.
This crop can be super expensive at the grocery store, but if you’re able to grow it at home, you’ll be rewarded with a steady crop for decades.
Be warned though, asparagus takes a long time to get established – it takes a minimum of two years before you can harvest the spears.
However, once it sets its roots and makes it through its first winter, it will produce a crop every spring – for up to 25 years!
Tips for Winter Gardening
Plants are better at caring for themselves during the winter months than you might expect.
Most plants have the genetic ability to sense changes in temperature before they occur. So even if you have plants that you don’t think will make it through winter, give them a shot – they might surprise you.
You can continue to plant in most cases as long as the ground is soft enough to dig a hole. Mulch can help retain warmth in the soil, as can compost. An added benefit of compost is that it will supply much-needed nutrients to the soil.
Just don’t fertilize too late!
Fertilizing during the winter will either produce zero benefit for your plants or it will force them to put on new growth before the ground warms up – this can kill tender new growth.
Don’t forget to water during the winter months, either.
Watering before a freeze can protect plants, as it will allow plants to absorb moisture through their roots before the ground freezes solid. Remember, those winter winds can be drying!
If you have plants that you think might need a bit of extra protection, consider adding frost cloth, row tunnels, or other covers to keep them warm. Often, it’s not the cold that kills warm weather plants but the frost – so plan accordingly.
Oh – and make sure you bundle yourself up, too! It’s getting cold out there.