Q. What kind of plants can survive in winter?
Your question is a very general one and difficult to answer precisely.
Plants that survive the winter are called "perennials". There are two types of perennials - woody plants, such as shrubs and trees, and herbaceous perennials, in which the above-ground parts die back in winter. Perennials survive the winter because their roots are buried in the ground.
There are two types of shrubs and trees - evergreen and deciduous. Deciduous trees survive the winter by loosing their leaves. This enables them to conserve water which would otherwise be lost through their leaves. Evergreen trees and shrubs retain their leaves but their leaves have certain characteristics (e.g. thick epidermis or waxy surface) that enable them to retain water. In the northeast, an oak tree would be an example of a deciduous tree and a pine an example of an evergreen tree.
Climate plays a role also. A plant that is perennial in the tropics would probably not survive a northern winter and there are northeastern plants that need the freezing temperatures of winter to survive. If a plant will survive the winter in your area it is called "hardy in your zone". There are 26 hardiness zones in the United States, ranging from 1a to 13b.
Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service