Find tough-as-nails plants that can survive your coldest winters.
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This rugged Tennessee wildflower can grow just about anywhere, and most varieties are hardy to Zone 3. Cut down the stems, then add 3-4 inches of mulch to insulate the plants through the winter to help them bounce back beautifully next summer.
Don't let its dainty blooms fool you — lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) is a tough plant. Hardy in Zones 2 to 7, the plant can thrive in practically any soil or climate and is a long-time favorite for shade gardens. Be aware though, this freeze-proof plant can become borderline invasive without proper care and attention.
Hardy to Zone 3, Siberian iris shakes off cold cold winters. The low-maintenance, animal pest-resistant plants tolerate wet and dry soil, making them a perfect choice for a rain garden. Flowers appear in late spring and linger into early summer.
American Mountain Ash
American mountain ash (Sorbus americana) loves cool weather and moist, well-draining soil that mimics its native mountain climate. It's hardy in Zones 3 - 6.
Coral Bells (Heuchera)
Coming in a rainbow of hues, coral bells provide sensational color and are a favorite among shade gardeners. The plants are hardy in Zones 3-9, and in warmer climates can be grown as evergreens. Watch out — coral bells are prone to heaving in the winter, so add 3-4 inches of mulch in the fall before temperatures drop.
If you're looking for cool-weather color that just won't quit, plant some pansies. The cheery blooms can survive sudden cold snaps, as well as tolerate weather in the single digits for several hours. Gardeners in Zone 6 and higher can expect pansies to brighten up their landscape for the majority of the winter.
If you've ever planted hosta, you know the delight of watching the green leaves pop through the ground during spring. The reliable, shade-loving perennials are hardy to Zone 3.
Siberian cypress grows naturally in the mountains in Russia, so it should have no problem making it through winter in your home garden. The hardy evergreen transforms from a mint green to brown-purple when the temperatures drop.
‘Fastigiata’ Spruce (Picea pungens var. glauca ‘Fastigiata’)
This dwarf spruce is a perfect fit in small yards, topping out around 15 feet. You'll love its blue tinted needles. The tree is hardy in Zone 2-7, and drought- and heat-tolerant once etablished.
Violas add cheerful winter color to hardiness zones 5 to 10. Some varieties will even keep blooming through warm weather.
Looking for perennials that bloom in late winter? While most primroses flower in early spring, some species add color to the late winter garden. Sow the seeds outside from January to March, or look for potted primroses in bloom at nurseries or garden centers around that time of year.
Cabbages and Kale
Ornamental kale and cabbage are some of the most popular winter annual plants. They lend a completely different texture to a winter landscape bed. Once the plants are hardened by cooler night temperatures they can survive most cold winters.
Any Southern gardener will tell you collards were a garden staple long before kale came onto the scene. The leafy greens tolerate freezing temperatures and in Zone 8 and higher, you can harvest the leafy greens all winter. In fact, collards will actually taste sweeter if harvested after a frost.
Though not as cold-hardy as kale or collards, Swiss chard will stand up to those first and last frosts of the season.
‘Purrsian Blue’ Catmint
This perennial has it all — deer resistance, drought tolerance and a long flowering period from early summer to fall frost. The plants gracefully stand up to winter, showing off silver foliage through the cold months.
'Candy Stripe' Phlox
'Candy Stripe' is a lovely, pink-and-white-striped creeping phlox that creates a carpet of color in the spring — plus, its foliage is evergreen and it's typically hardy in zones 3 to 9, making it a great year-round groundcover for most gardeners.
Cyclamen hederifolium is a hardy performer producing prolific fall blooms. All fall it produces pink to white, ranging from three to six inches tall. They display very attractive foliage that lasts from winter through spring.
Peonies live for years and years. They require a cold period to bloom properly, and depending on the climate, mulching can actually inhibit flowering.
You may not expect a succulent to be considered a winter plant, but many sedum varieties are actually very hardy — some can even withstand Zone 3 winters. Leave the seedheads on the plant to add winter interest.
You may know Baptisia as false indigo, the vigorous, native bloomer that is hardy to Zone 3. Cut it down to the ground in the fall and it will spring back to life next season.