Don’t hide your garden tools in the shed—winter is the right time to get an early start.

Winter gardening
Claire Plumridge

While spring and fall are notably the big planting seasons, winter has its overlooked merits. This, of course, applies to those living in a temperate climate where the ground doesn’t freeze. If you are one of the lucky ones living in warmer zones, then forget hibernating your garden tools and get ready for some wintertime gardening.

Fewer Obstacles

One reason to sharpen your shears is that winter’s colder days means fewer pests prowling on your peas and fewer plant diseases bothering your bounty. With fewer intruders and setbacks, more vulnerable and tender plantings will have a higher success rate.

More Natural Moisture

In addition, plants installed in the winter months will be less thirsty and need less water to get established. Sure, watering newly planted plants is still a must—regardless the season. However, the winter soil retains moisture longer with the cooler temperatures and (fingers crossed) extra rainfall. Always remember when planting to make sure your soil drains properly to avoid a water-logged situation. Furthermore, plants located under eaves and other covered structures don’t benefit from rainfall, so periodically do a moisture check in these areas.

First of Their Class

Let’s also not forget the fact that most plants go dormant in the winter. Because they are “sleeping,” they suffer less from transplant shock and come springtime are eager to begin their root growth. Winter-planted plants have had the luxury of a quiet, less active time to acclimate to their soil surroundings and therefore get a head start come growing season.

What to Plant in Winter

Best choices to plant in the winter? Trees and shrubs are your best bets, including bare-root fruit trees and roses. An added bonus is that bare-root plants are usually less expensive than their potted counterparts, and when it comes to bare-root roses, you usually have a wider selection to choose from. If you’re looking to add perennials to your winter landscape, then search out hellebores, heathers, and viburnums; when in search of annuals to dress up pots, include pansies and cyclamen. And don’t forget your veggie bed probably has the space now for some hardy lettuces, spinach, kale, onions, peas, and Swiss chard; you’ll be able to harvest healthy and immune-boosting vegetables during the season your body needs it the most: winter.