Q. Can you suggest some winter-flowering shrubs for the New York City area?
Surprisingly, there are quite few shrubs that bloom in winter (or at least, late-winter) in this area: Here are a few:
Witch hazel. Hamamelis x intermedia. There are several nice varieties available. Try 'Jelena' which has yellow-burnt orange, fragrant flowers from February to March (depending on the weather). Also has good fall color. 'Vesna" is another good choice, with golden flowers as early as January.
Mahonia hybrid. Mahonia x intermedia . 'Winter Green' and 'Charity' are two varieties with bright yellow flowers that appear in late winter. 'Winter Green' is a feature plant on NYC's High LIne. These plants can be fragile in freezing tempertures and manage best if kept protected from strong winds.
Viburnum Viburnum x bodnantense. 'Dawn' is a variety with beautiful rose-pink, fragrant flowers. It blooms in late winter/ early spring on still naked branches.
Camellia. Camellia x vernalis. 'Yuletide' is a variety with bright red flowers in late-winter to spring in our area. It is hardy in USDA Zones 7a-10 and can be grown in this area in a sheltered location.
Winter sweet. Chimonanthus praecox. 'Luteus' with bright yellow flowers is a good choice for February to March flowers. Hardy to Zones 7 and needs winter wind protection in this area.
Sweetbay or sweet box. Sarcococcus hookeriana var. humilis. Produces small, white, fragrant flowers in late winter/ early spring.
Paper bush. Edgeworthia chrysantha. An unusual plant that produces yellow, fragrant flowers in mid-winter to early spring. Plant it in a sheltered, sunny location but protect from strong afternoon sun.
Winter jasmine. Jasminum nudiflorum. A spreading shrub or vine with bright yellow flowers on bare branches in late winter.
Winter heath. Erica carnea 'Springwood Pink'. A low growing shrub that can flower (pink colored) in mid-winter.Needs excellent drainage.