A winter awakening: dots of color in the garden with cold-loving blooms

First flowers blooming in winter

Come February, violets, pansies, and primroses start painting nature in subtle yet stunning hues. Whether in planters or pots, we adore their beauty and hardiness.

Think pansies, primroses, and violets are just basic garden-variety flowers? Take a closer look at a few new cultivars, they’re eye-openers in winter gardens!

First to bloom in winter

Colorful flowers that are first to bloom in winterThese decorative blooms come together to form vibrant displays, signaling winter’s end. And beyond garden box compositions and pots, they’re perfect to fill in the base of shrub beds throughout the garden.

You’ll find them in nurseries until March. Start sowing them by mid-April and transplant in fall.

They all love a cool, well-drained soil and a partial shade exposure.

Primroses to kick off post-winter

Traditionally golden, wild primrose – single or double – laughs in the face of harsh winters. Snow? Frost? No problem! It blooms as early as February and can continue up to June.

Colorful flowers in winterNowadays, these perennials come in a wide range of unique varieties. Some feature particularly creative blooms – bicolor, tricolor, or even striped! You can even find “tiered” or “candelabra” primroses reaching heights of 2 feet or even 4 feet (1.20m). You’ll see them flowering from May to July, preferring shadow or semi-shadow.

Check out ball primroses or bear’s-ear primroses among other surprising hybrids.

Violas to bid farewell to chilly frosts

Pansies and violets are nearly identical siblings from the viola family. Differentiated by petal size and arrangement, violets’ flowers are smaller, with two petals on top and three below, while pansies boast larger blossoms, four on top and just one below.

Black winter flowersWith 500 species out there, color variety keeps expanding with each horticultural innovation. From ‘Kitty surprise’ violets to ‘Carrera purple and orange’ pansies to the velvet-petaled black pansy (viola cornuta ‘Molly Sanderson’), the options are vast. Sow them from February to April; they’re super bloomers!

Pansies and violets, both biennials, are sown early April or planted in fall and spring. They blossom in fall and winter until warmer days. They self-seed generously; let them settle where they please. These spring little flowers thrive everywhere and guess what? They’re edible. Sprinkle them on your desserts and salads!

Claire Lelong-Lehoang

Images: 123RF: Diana Taliun; adobestock: Jeancliclac; Pixabay: garten-gg, Ralph