Georgia winter plants: What to plant for winter interest

Georgia winter plants do not need to be quite as hardy as their Northern counterparts, but they do need...

Georgia winter plants do not need to be quite as hardy as their Northern counterparts, but they do need to be able to withstand an occasional snow and freeze. Some of the winter hardy selections below have fragrances that work well near windows or in open gathering places such as patios. When deciding what to plant around your home, take into account that some of these plants bloom in the winter and some have fruits that create a beautiful backdrop to your yard.


Wintersweet, often referred to as fragrant wintersweet, is a plant botanically known as Chimonanthus praecox. According to NC State University, its hardiness zones are 6b to 9--perfect for Georgia. Wintersweet is known to grow between 10 and 15 feet high and 8 to 12 feet wide with a slow growth rate. It is deciduous, with dark green leaves that are simple and opposite one another on the stem. Foliage of a wintersweet will turn yellow-green in the fall season. Flowers on the wintersweet are yellow-white and waxy, appearing in winter and spring. They have purple centers. It is a shrub with a loose form and medium to coarse texture. Plant a wintersweet in full sun or partial shade with any type of well-drained soil. To propagate a wintersweet, use softwood cuttings for the best growth.

Winter jasmine

Winter jasmine, also known by its botanical classification of Jasminum nudiflorum, is a deciduous shrub that grows quite quickly. It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones of six through 10. Winter jasmine will grow 3 to 4 feet in height and 4 to 7 feet in width. Its fine texture and spreading form gives it a lovely appearance. The leaves of a winter jasmine are deep green on bright green stems. While it does not have a nice fall color, it will have light-yellow flowers in the winter and maroon-red buds. Plant a winter jasmine in full sun or partial shade with any type of well-drained soil. It is a drought tolerant plant, which works well with the unpredictable Georgia climate. You can propagate a winter jasmine by cuttings for the easiest regrowth.

Winter honeysuckle

Winter honeysuckle is also known as bush honeysuckle and is botanically known as Lonicera fragrantissima. It is a fragrant shrub that is hardy in USDA zones of five through nine. It will grow 6 to 8 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide in a tangled mass of stems and branches. Nearly evergreen in Georgia, winter honeysuckle is still a deciduous shrub. Flowers are cream-white, in late winter, and very prolific on the stem. Its fragrance has been described as lemony but can vary by cultivar. Pruning at least once, if not twice, a year will keep this shrub beautiful all year long. Plant a winter honeysuckle in full sun; however, it will tolerate partial shade. Winter honeysuckle needs well-drained soil where it is planted. Propagate it by softwood shoots or by seed. Winter honeysuckle may regrow from layering when its limbs fall onto the ground.

Japanese apricot

The Japanese apricot, Prunus mume, is a deciduous plant that is known to grow rapidly with a medium texture. It is a tree that is hardy in USDA hardiness zones of six through nine. Growing 10 to 20 feet high, it has a round form with dense twigs. There are simple green leaves, 2 to 4 inches long, and single or double flowers. Blooms are red, pink or white and are very fragrant. The Japanese apricot will bloom in the winter and the spring. The Japanese apricot should be planted in full sun or partial shade. Propagate by seed, softwood cuttings, grafting or by semi-hardwood cuttings.

American beautyberry

The American beautyberry, also commonly known as the French mulberry, is botanically known as the Callicarpa americana. It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones of six to 10. It is known to grow 3 to 5 feet high and 3 to 5 feet wide on average, with some specimens growing up to 9 feet. There will be deciduous yellow-green leaves in the fall, glossy purple or white fruits and light brown older bark. New bark is red-brown. Small pink flowers are clustered, but the fruits in the winter are its focal point. Plant an American beautyberry in partial shade and moist soil. Propagate by seeds, root cuttings and softwood cuttings.

If you are lost on how to plan your garden, let a local Atlanta area landscaper give you great design ideas for these wonderful Georgia winter plants.

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