9 plants that resist cold outside weather in winter

Plant with ice on its leaves, surviving the outdoor cold

Brrr, winter is just along the corner, bringing along those cold temperatures and foul weather. Not all plants can cope when the outdoors gets colder than freezing. Luckily, there is still a wide range of cold-resistant plants for the garden.

Discover our selection!

What is a hardy plant?

Three open bellflowers that bloom after surviving the coldIn garden stores or online, you’ll often see “hardiness” mentioned on labels and plant descriptions. For instance, for Stipa, you’ll read: “Hardiness: -4°F or -20°C”. This is the coldest possible temperature that a plant will survive. Note, however, that it isn’t the same as what a thermometer outside would show: it’s more a notion of what the plant itself feels. Indeed, if the temperature outside is 23°F or -5°C, but that the air is moist and it’s windy, then to the plant it feels closer to 0°F or nearly -20°C. This also works the other way around: a potted plant near a sun-splashed wall will feel that the temperature is warmer.

Admittedly, this is a fuzzy notion, not very clear-cut. As a result, you have to try and understand what the situation is like in different spots of your own garden.

  • If your soil is waterlogged and heavy during winter, that temps have dropped to 23°F (-5°C) and that a particular flower bed is in the shade, you’ll have to choose plants that can cope with far colder than 23°F (-5°C).
  • If, however, your soil drains well, that the growing bed is sheltered from wind, and it’s in full sun, then you can simply match the hardiness rating of the plant with outside temperatures.

Shrubs that resist the cold

Boxwood

  • Variety: Buxus Sempervirens
  • Hardiness: -4°F (-20°C)
  • Appeal: small oval leaves, fragrant and forming a very dense cover
  • Exposure: sun, part sun, shade
  • Soil: rich, well-drained, neutral to chalky
  • Cherry on the top? Very easy to shape into spheres, topiary and straight hedges.

Saint John’s wort

  • Variety: Hypericum ‘Hidcote’
  • Hardiness: 5°F (-15°C)
  • Blooming period: June-July and again in September-October
  • Appeal: This Saint John’s wort offers simple, golden yellow flowers that stand out against the dark, shiny leaves.
  • Exposure: sun, part sun
  • Soil: light, poot, well-drained, neutral to chalky
  • Cherry on the top? This shrub doesn’t need much care and isn’t so picky regarding soil type.

Abelia

  • Variety: Abelia mosanensis ‘Monia’
  • Hardiness: lower than 5°F (-15°C)
  • Among the hardy shrubs, abelia mosanensis Monia is one of the most resistantBlooming period: April to June
  • Appeal: tube-shaped flowers are early with pink and white colors. They exude a remarkable fragrance.
  • Exposure: sun, part sun
  • Soil: deep, soft, neutral to acidic
  • Cherry on the top? Orange-hued foliage in fall.

Perennials that don’t fear freezing

Carpathian harebell

  • Variety: Campanula carpatica
  • Hardiness: -4°F (-20°C)
  • Blooming period: June to August
  • Appeal: its many purple or blue flowers, shaped like deep bells with a white center.
  • Exposure: sun, part sun
  • Soil: cool but with perfect drainage, deep
  • Cherry on the top? Ground cover variety that forms beautiful blooming mounds.

Columbine

  • Variety: Aquilegia x ‘Blue Star’
  • Hardiness: -4°F (-20°C)
  • Blooming period: April to June
  • Appeal: its two-toned flowers with a lavender-blue outer rim and white corolla. Bright yellow stamens emerge from the center.
  • Perennial that resists outdoor colds in winterExposure: sun, part sun
  • Soil: soft, rich, cool but draining well
  • Cherry on the top? Once settled in, doesn’t require any specific care.

Rudbeckia

  • Variety: Rudbeckia triloba
  • Hardiness: 5°F (-15°C)
  • Blooming period: July to October
  • Appeal: its sun-like flowers resemble those of sunflower, but the heart sticks out more.
  • Exposure: full sun
  • Soil: well-draining
  • Cherry on the top? Its bushy bearing that looks great in a flower bed.

Hardy vines

Wisteria

  • Variety: Wisteria chinensis
  • Hardiness: 5°F (-15°C)
  • Blooming period: April-May
  • Appeal: long flowing creamy white or violet clusters of flowers.
  • Exposure: sun, part sun
  • Soil: light, deep, well-draining, neutral to acidic
  • Cherry on the top? Twisting, knotted woody stem that looks quite charming. It does, however, need a strong stake or trellis to rest against.

Winter jasmine

  • Variety: Jasminum nudiflorum
  • Hardiness: 5°F (-15°C)
  • Flowering period: December to March
  • Appeal: small, simple bright yellow flowers that bloom even before any leaves unfurl
  • Jasminum nudiflorum branch with yellow flowersExposure: full sun
  • Soil: rich
  • Cherry on the top? Winter blooming that truly warms your heart in winter.

Climbing hydrangea

  • Variety: Hydrangea petiolaris ‘Flying Saucer’
  • Hardiness: lower than 5°F (-15°C)
  • Blooming period: June
  • Appeal: wide, foamy white flower umbels that cover the deciduous green serrated foliage.
  • Exposure: part shade, shade
  • Soil: deep, soft and fertile
  • Cherry on the top? Ideal for shaded areas!

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
Pixabay: DatWuschel, Gernot, Bryan Hanson, Zhu Bing
CC BY-SA 2.0: F. D. Richards