Looking for a winter-blooming houseplant to brighten your space this winter? Our guide to winter-blooming plants will inspire you to adorn your space with flowering plants that delight your senses through the shortest days of the year. From bulbs to aroids, winter-blooming houseplants come in all colors and sizes! 

What causes winter blooms?

We don’t typically think of plants as flowering in the winter, so the handful that do shine among the plain foliage of their dormant siblings. Many of our favorite winter-blooming plants have adapted to bloom as the days get shorter and colder. The two processes involved here are vernalization and photoperiodic flowering. Vernalization is the process by which flowering is promoted as plants are exposed to cold winter temperatures. Photoperiodic flowering describes the process of a plant’s flowering cycle being dependent on day-length. 

Conventional wisdom tells us to shelter our plants from the drafty window sills that they inhabit during the colder months and supplement their light intake. However, there are a few special winter-blooming plants that rely upon these environmental changes to trigger their blooms! Always do your research before subjecting your plants to darker or colder environments than what they’re used to. Not all plants will appreciate the change, especially if they go dormant in winter. Remember that winter-blooming plants are outliers, and not all plants will bloom this way. 

Winter blooms: Our top picks

Holiday Bulbs

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum sp.) and Paperwhite (Narcissus papyraceus) bulbs are classic holiday favorites, delighting us with their fragrant, trumpet-like blooms during the darkest months of the year. These bulbs can be "forced" hydroponically in the winter by placing their roots in water. Generally, you can expect to see flowers approximately 6 weeks after the bulbs have been planted. Once they are finished blooming, you can cut the stalks down to the bulb and store them in a cool, dark place until next year. See our article about How to Force Bulbs for Indoor Blossoms for more detailed care instructions.

Amaryllis Hippeastrum bloom

Holiday Cacti

Schlumbergera plants are flowering cacti commonly known as Holiday cacti (including Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter cacti). Their colorful, exuberant blooms are reminiscent of Fuchsia! Holiday cacti will re-bloom year after year, provided that they have long nights and cooler temperatures to trigger budding in the wintertime. To simulate these conditions, cover your Holiday cacti with an opaque cloth overnight in the winter until you see buds forming!

Schlumbergera Cactus in Bloom

Peace Lilies

Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllum sp.) are another winter-blooming houseplant must-have! Always swoon-worthy, their stately white spathes rise gracefully above glossy deep green leaves. Many species of Peace Lilies have been cultivated to bloom multiple times throughout the year, including over the winter! They typically initiate blooms during the short days of winter and move into full bloom as spring begins. Peace Lilies have particularly long-lived blooms that last about two months, after which you can trim them off to encourage foliar growth.

Hoya Vines

Hoya plants are widely varied, beloved for their ease of care and darling blooms. Hoya vines produce blooms that grow in firework-like clusters of star-shaped flowers. Their fragrant blooms boast a dazzling array of shapes, textures and colors. There are hundreds of cultivars to collect, and each as unique as the next! Some of our favorites are Hoya 'Krimson Queen,' Hoya retusa, Hoya compacta, and Hoya shepardii. Hoyas typically bloom under two sets of conditions: when they are thriving and when they are environmentally stressed. When they're stressed, they may bloom as a spectacular attempt to reproduce. During winter, the short, cold days in conjunction with less frequent watering can trigger winter blooms. When they reach maturity, they will bloom again and again from the same growth point, so don't cut off the peduncles once they've finished for the season. 

Hoya carnosa inflorescence peduncle

Flowering Anthurium

Anthurium andreanum is another eye-catching, winter-blooming staple. Anthurium blooms can come in white, pink, red, purple, green, yellow, brown, orange, or black flowers, and are sure to add a splash of color to your space! Like Peace Lilies, Anthurium blooms come in the form of a spathe and spadix duo — a hooded inflorescence (the spathe) that stands up like a fancy collar, protecting the protrusion in the middle (the spadix). The spadix holds the Anthurium's actual flowers, which are very, very small. While the "real" flowers don't last very long, the colorful spathe is the star of the show and can last for up to two months!

Anthurium andreanum Flamingo Flower red

What winter-blooming houseplants are on your list this year? Share some of your favorite or unusual finds with us in the comments, or tag us @PistilsNursery on Instagram!

By Amalia Ackerman

Pistils Nursery