Indoor Plants That Actually Thrive in Winter


Wintertime is usually a period of dormancy for many species of houseplants. Between the colder temperatures and the lack of daylight, it can be hard for a lot of houseplants to even grow. Well, most houseplants, that is. Here’s where things get interesting!

Did you know that there are indoor plants that grow very well during winter & even thrive in the cold? The following indoor plants actually thrive in winter:

  • Phlox
  • Carrots
  • Camellia
  • Bok choy
  • Winter honeysuckle
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet alyssum
  • Peas
  • Honeywort
  • Spring onions
  • Garlic
  • Holly shrub
  • Onion
  • Catmint
  • Pansies
  • Snowdrops

A lot of these are plant species I haven’t covered on the blog, so keep reading for more information about each houseplant and their care requirements. If you often get sad and a little listless because your indoor garden hardly does anything in the winter, that’s about to change.

16 Houseplants for Wintertime Indoor Gardening

Phlox

Let’s begin with phlox, a flowering annual and perennial plant species in the Polemoniaceae family. With more than 65 species, all phlox tends to bloom between the spring and the fall.

Yet certain cultivars of the phlox are built for the winter coldness. These are the creeping phlox, sand phlox, and moss phlox.

To care for your phlox all year long, make sure the houseplant doesn’t experience periods of drought. If the foliage is wilting or the soil is very dry, it’s time to water.

When the phlox actively grows, water it more often, giving it an inch of water aimed at the root zone.

Carrots

As the list from the intro illustrates, you have many options for keeping your indoor winter garden active with home-grown veggies.

One such option is the carrot, a winter-hardy vegetable that actually has a sweeter taste if the plant has been exposed to a hard winter’s freeze.

When planting your carrot seeds, space them an inch from one another. The seedlings will need water often as they grow. Water again when the soilOpens in a new tab. is dry an inch deep.

You can begin the fertilization process once your carrot plants grow to three inches. Then, keep it up until the carrots begin to show rich color.

At that point, they’ve matured and you can harvest them.

Camellia

Although the camellia might look like just another pretty flower, don’t underestimate it. With somewhere in the ballpark of 300 species and 3,000 different hybrids, some cultivars of this flower grow after the traditional blooming season ends, starting from November until about April.

You’ll mostly find this unusual growing pattern with the Camellia japonica or Japanese camellia, which features the following winter-hardy hybrids:

  • Camellia Tricolor
  • Camellia Scentsation
  • Camellia Drama Girl
  • Camellia Australis
  • Camellia Herme
  • Camellia Bob Hope
  • Camellia Livinia Maggi
  • Camellia Kramer’s Supreme
  • Camellia Bonomiana

The camellia can be a tough flower to grow indoors, admittedly. You can’t wet the soil near the roots, so ensure your soil drains very, very well.

Commercial potting mixes might have fertilizer in them, which the camellia also doesn’t like.

Try making your own potting mix with peat moss (10 percent), builder’s sand (10 percent), and ground aged bark (80 percent) such as cedar, fir, or pine.

Finally, when it comes to where to place your camellia, I’d strongly suggest giving it a home near a southerly-facing window.

Here’s a Related Article You Might Like: How Do I Keep My Indoor Plants Alive During Winter?Opens in a new tab.

Bok Choy

The Chinese cabbage known as bok choy (sometimes also pak choi) is averse to hot weather, so there’s no better time to add some to your indoor garden than now!

You may have to wrap your growing bok choy in fleece or cloche in its early days, but once it germinates, it should be alright.

Put the seedlings about three inches from one another, maybe five inches if you want to be extra safe. Use well-draining soil with lots of organic matter.

Water often until the seedlings sprout up to two inches, then scale back a little. It takes a bit of time before bok choy is ready for harvesting, anywhere from five to eight weeks depending on the variety.

If you’d rather your bok choy be a little more tender, harvest within four weeks.

Winter Honeysuckle

The name for this plant species speaks for itself! Although you don’t see it inside as often as you do outside, you can grow the winter honeysuckle in either environment.

The Lonicera fragrantissima is deciduous and, in the south, considered semi-evergreen. Its white flowers often smell of lemon, so the pleasing odorOpens in a new tab. will put a pep in your step all winter long.

Here’s a Related Article You Might Like: Houseplants That Can Make Your Home Smell BetterOpens in a new tab.

Make sure the soil stays moist but not soggy and provide conditions with partial shade or full sun. If you don’t want your winter honeysuckle to grow 10 feet tall, then prune it regularly.

In the south, the winter honeysuckle usually keeps blooming well into winter due to the warm conditions. In your home, you can do your best to recreate a warmer environment around your Winter Honeysuckle to help encourage the same thing happen.

Asparagus

Asparagus is another great wintertime veggie to grow, just don’t expect it to reach maturity for harvesting overnight. It’ll take at least two years before that happens.

You can grow this perennial in a container, but when it comes to trying to grow large asparagus indoors, it’s important to remember that the bigger the container you use, the better.

At maturity, asparagus plants grown indoors and with the help of grow lights, can reach widths of up to three feet and heights of five feet or taller.

Here’s a Related Article You Might Like: What’s the Difference Between LED Lights and LED Grow Lights?Opens in a new tab.

Try to plant your asparagus sometime between October and March. Growth will occur even though it’s frigid outside.

A year in, once the asparagus has crowned, you can take it out of its original pot or container and move it to a more permanent one.   

Sweet Alyssum

An annual in the Brassicaceae family, the sweet alyssum will allow you to enjoy beautiful flowers in your home or officeOpens in a new tab. on those bleak cold days. If you’re at no risk of frost where you live, then you can grow your sweet alyssum through the autumn and winter when many other flowers like it have stopped blooming.

Make sure you protect your sweet alyssum in the warmer season, as the sweet alyssum is heat-averse.

This is one of those houseplants that delivers big rewards very quickly in. The sweet alyssum can fully mature in about two months.

To get this plant ready for growing, ensure you have well-draining soil. Water weekly, but take care to avoid overwatering, which could kill your alyssum.

After the growing season ends, it’s usually a good idea to prune this plant back a bit. This is a great way to help it revitalize itself.

Peas

If you need to incorporate more peas into your diet, growing your own will surely get you in the mood to eat your greens. The field pea or Austrian pea is a smart pick for the wintertime, as heavy frost won’t stop this veggie from growing.

The temperatures would have to dip into seriously cold territory, such as -10 degrees Fahrenheit, to kill this plant. It shouldn’t ever get that cold in your home or office, so growing your peas indoors through the winter will be just fine.

Although they like the cold, it’s worth mentioning that Austrian peas still prefer full sun. Using well-draining soil will prevent water from getting trapped within.

If you can, add some organic fertilizerOpens in a new tab. to the soil when you first plant your winter peas, especially if you’re not confident in the quality of your soil.

About three weeks after planting, your peas should be ready for harvesting and eating!

Honeywort

The honeywort or Cerinthe is one of the most beautiful plants you could ever add to your indoor garden. This Boraginaceae family member produces multi-colored blooms that look iridescent in some cultivars.

Even better is those flowers won’t disappear in the winter, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy your honeywort’s captivating tubular blooms.

Unlike some of the other plants I’ve discussed to this point, the honeywort isn’t super picky about its soil, but its favorite type is well-draining soil with lots of organic matter.

The exception is if you’ve planted your honeywort in a container. Then you should use standard potting mix. Put this houseplant in full sun with maybe some shade, but avoid a lot of shade or your honeywort could develop mildew or mold.

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Spring Onions

Spring onions might make you think of warmer weather, but you can grow some varieties of scallion in the winter too, especially the White Lisbon.

You also have some options for planting your spring onion, either planting it in the waterOpens in a new tab. or putting it in the soil if you prefer to do things more traditionally.

If you do stick to growing the White Lisbon in soil, place your seeds in containers and moisten the soil, never letting it get too dry. Maintain a temperature of 65 degrees for the seedlings, which should sprout within a week or two.

Move the White Lisbon to a sunny spot and augment with fluorescents so the plant gets 16 hours of light a day. Begin fertilizing about a month in.

When your spring onions are half an inch thick and six inches tall, you can harvest.  

Garlic

If you’re not familiar with growing garlic indoors or in the winter, the first few pieces of useful information I’d like to share with you are:

  1. Few houseplants can tolerate the winter like garlic, as it takes dipping down to -30 degrees before this plant could die from frost.
  2. Garlic also grows quickly, in a matter of weeks, not months.
  3. You’ll most likely notice a much more potent flavor in the garlic you grow yourself compared to the garlic you buy it at your local grocer.

If you’ll be hunkering down for a cold winter, hardneck garlic is your best bet. Do keep in mind though that hardneck garlic doesn’t have as many cloves, and you can’t keep it as long as you can softneck garlic.

However, because of its propensity for colder temperatures, I’d say that hardneck garlic is the garlic to grow when it comes to indoor plants that thrive in the winter!

Holly Shrub

Holly has its moment each year at Christmas time, but an indoor holly shrub or tree will beautifully decorate your indoor garden for the rest of the cold season too.

With more than 470 species, some are evergreen and others deciduous. The Ilex verticillata or winterberry holly sheds its leaves in the autumn so you have nothing but berries to enjoy all winter.

When tending to your holly shrub indoors, check its leaf variegation to determine how much sun it needs.

Like with other houseplant species I’ve discussed on this blog, the more leaf variegation, the more direct sun is required.

Do make sure you keep the holly shrub away from kids and pets, as the leaves are pointy and can be quite painful if touched.

Onion

Onions are such a hardy winter vegetable that the ones that can live through the cold in the ground have earned a nickname: winter onions. Here are some winter onion varieties to add to your indoor garden:

  • Greeley’s onion
  • Yellow onion
  • Red onion
  • Kentucky Hill onion
  • White multiplier onion

The cool thing about onions, winter varieties or not, is that you have so many means of growing them that it never gets old. For instance, you can cultivate from year-old onion sets, plant onions after they sprout, grow them from seeds, put them in a soda bottle (yes, this can work, but the bottle must be clean and have drainage holes), or grow them in water.

Catmint

You probably know catmint more by its other name, catnip. If you have a kitty at home, you’re familiar with dried, bagged catnip, but the houseplant itself is a flowering member of the Lamiaceae family that produces purple blooms. You won’t see those so much in the winter, but its foliage makes the catmint strong enough to keep growing in the cold.

Each day, your catnip needs five hours of direct sunlight. Since this plant is so neat and tidy, you can put your catnip on a windowsill where it’s out of the way. If the plant has started getting leggy, that’s because it’s lacking light. Ensure its pot or container has drainage holes and then water frequently.

Pansies

Forget their reputation of being delicate! The multicolored pansy flower won’t complain if it’s outdoors growing in snowy, single-digit conditions.

The cooler the weather, the better for the pansy, although it will start blooming more in spring.

Make sure you have a room in your home that’s relatively cool, such as a sunroom, and then put your growing pansy there in the autumn and winter.

Depending on how hardy it is where you live, the pansy requires four to six hours of sun a day, unless you’re in hardiness zone 7. Then you need to introduce partial shade or the pansy can scorch.

Snowdrops

It shouldn’t surprise you to see an indoor plant like snowdrops on this list. Living up to their name, snowdrops or Galanthus will grow in areas where the winters are moderate to very cold.

These Amaryllidaceae family members are perennials with white flowers that naturally droop down.

Those indoor gardeners who live in warmer climates might have to skip the snowdrops, as this houseplant is prone to becoming dried out in enough heat or humidity.

By the way, snowdrops do have a period of dormancy, but it’s in the summer. Imagine that!

That wraps up my list of indoor plants that thrive in the winter. If you have experience with plants you’ve grown indoors through the winter and they thrived and they weren’t on this list consider emailing meOpens in a new tab. to let me know.

Fred Zimmer

I'm a lover of plants, animals, photography, & people, not necessarily in that order. Currently, I'm focused on photographing indoor plants & chachkies. I write & rewrite articles about creating an environment where indoor plants can thrive. I'm good at listening to music but bad at shopping to muzak.

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