Winter-flowering shrub FAQS

Winter-flowering shrubs lift the soul on grey days. Not only do they provide a welcome burst of colour, the blooms are often scented to help pollinators find them at a time when there are very few food sources available. If you’re looking for the best plants and flowers for winter colour, we’ve got plenty of ideas to share. Don’t have a garden? You can grow many small winter-flowering shrubs in containers on a small patio. Our horticultural team has also put together a list of 7 plants to brighten up your balcony through winter.

When to plant autumn and winter-flowering shrubs in the UK?

The best time to plant winter-flowering shrubs is early spring, or autumn when the soil is still workable and the weather is favourable. If you get them planted in autumn, your shrubs will need the chance to get used to their new environment and develop strong roots before winter arrives. This will help them withstand the winter chill, and they may even start producing beautiful blooms in their first season!

Can I plant shrubs in winter?

It is possible to plant shrubs in the winter, but it's not the ideal time for most varieties. Many shrubs are in a dormant state at this time of year, and the cold weather can make it more challenging for newly planted shrubs to establish themselves. The exception to this rule is bare root shrubs, like hedging plants, that are specifically grown to be sold through the winter. These shrubs are dug up while dormant and delivered with no soil around their roots. You should plant them as soon as possible, provided the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged. If you do plant a shrub in winter, be prepared to provide protection against frost and harsh weather. Mulching around the base and using horticultural fleece can help insulate and safeguard the plant.

When to prune winter flowering shrubs

As a general rule of thumb, prune your winter-flowering shrubs in late winter after they finish flowering but before they begin to produce new buds in spring. Aim to remove about a third of the stems by cutting them back as low as possible to a strong upright shoot. Also remove any old or damaged branches that flower weakly. Take a look at our pruning guides for specific advice for each variety.

Do you water shrubs in winter?

All shrubs need water though the winter, even while dormant, although not as much as during the summer months. Newly planted shrubs can take several years to get fully established and, if their roots are allowed to dry out, they may struggle to survive. Keep an eye on new shrubs and water as necessary to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

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