Hardy Perennials: These Species Defy The Cold

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:47 pm

Hardy perennials are plants that can withstand cold temperatures and often return year after year, making them great choices for gardens in colder climates. These plants are adapted to survive freezing temperatures and even snow. Here are some hardy perennial species that defy the cold:

  1. Lavender (Lavandula spp.): Lavender is a fragrant and drought-tolerant perennial that thrives in well-drained soil and full sun. It’s known for its aromatic flowers and is resistant to cold temperatures.
  2. Siberian Iris (Iris sibirica): These iris plants are hardy and can withstand harsh winter conditions. They produce elegant, purple-blue flowers.
  3. Coneflower (Echinacea spp.): Coneflowers are native to North America and are well-suited for cold climates. They produce colorful, daisy-like blooms and are excellent for attracting pollinators.
  4. Sedum (Sedum spp.): Sedums, also known as stonecrops, are hardy, low-growing perennials that can withstand cold temperatures. They are drought-tolerant and come in various varieties.
  5. Peony (Paeonia spp.): Peonies are known for their large, showy flowers and are hardy perennials that can thrive in colder regions. They require well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight.
  6. Hosta (Hosta spp.): Hostas are shade-loving perennials that are incredibly cold-hardy. They are prized for their lush foliage and come in various leaf shapes and sizes.
  7. Daylily (Hemerocallis spp.): Daylilies are hardy perennials known for their low maintenance and adaptability to various climates. They produce attractive, trumpet-shaped flowers.
  8. Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia): Russian sage is a drought-tolerant perennial with silvery foliage and aromatic, lavender-blue flowers. It’s well-suited for cold climates.
  9. Hellebore (Helleborus spp.): Hellebores, also known as Lenten roses, are evergreen perennials that thrive in the shade and can withstand cold temperatures. They bloom early in the year.
  10. Ligularia (Ligularia spp.): Ligularia plants are shade-loving perennials that have striking foliage and tall spikes of yellow or orange flowers. They are hardy and can tolerate cold climates.
  11. Bergenia (Bergenia spp.): Also known as elephant’s ears, Bergenia is a hardy perennial with large, leathery leaves and clusters of pink or red flowers. It’s well-suited for cold winters.
  12. Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spp.): Bleeding hearts are shade-loving perennials that produce distinct, heart-shaped flowers. They are hardy and can thrive in cold climates.
  13. Coral Bells (Heuchera spp.): Coral bells are cold-hardy perennials known for their colorful foliage and delicate, bell-shaped flowers.

These hardy perennials are excellent choices for gardeners in colder regions. Remember to provide proper care and maintenance to ensure their continued growth and beauty. Additionally, specific varieties within each plant species may vary in hardiness, so it’s a good idea to consult local nurseries or garden centers for recommendations that are well-suited to your specific cold climate.

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Hardy Perennials: These Species Defy The Cold

But of course there are exceptions: In the case of more sensitive species, the label will then say something like “conditionally hardy” or even “hardy”, which does not necessarily mean that they are hardy. A light protection of foliage, leaves or spruce twigs is therefore appropriate in the bed. In addition, many perennials are not affected by frost in winter, but by permanent moisture of the roots in the soil.

These are particularly hardy perennials:

These perennials need winter protection:

  • Rosemary
  • Anemone
  • Chocolate flower
  • Bulbous milkweed
  • Mountain chamomile

How to recognize the winter hardiness of perennials?

How much frost hardy perennials can withstand is described by the so-called winter hardiness zones from one to eleven, which are often written on the plant label or perennial description. The lower the number, the hardier the perennials. The transition of zones is fluid, local features at the site can make winters colder or warmer. Depending on how well winter hardiness and location match, you may want to give some perennials a little frost protection after all. You can learn more about this in our article: Winterizing the Garden.

10 particularly hardy perennials

Christmas roses (Helleborus niger)

These hardy perennials not only brave the cold, they still bloom in the winter garden from January to March, though frost will keep their snow-white flowers closed. Christmas roses love sun to partial shade and humus-rich sites near woody plants.

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Yarrow (Achillea millefolium hybrids).

These hardy perennials delight with umbrellas of flowers in varietal-dependent colors. Yarrows bloom in June and July and often have repeat blooms in September. The plants are ideal bee and insect pastures and love sunny locations.


Greenland daisy (Arctanthemum arcticum ‘Roseum’)

The name already sounds like snow and ice, and indeed this bushy perennial belongs to winter hardiness zone Z1 – according to this, it can withstand temperatures as low as minus 45.5 degrees Celsius. Flowering time is from September to October, hardy perennials are suitable for well-drained and nutritious soil in full sun.

Three-flowered carnation (Geum triflorum)

This hardy perennial is also hardy in summer and loves dry, stony soil in the sun. So a location where nothing else really wants to grow. Clovewort is a groundcover with blooms from May to August.

American arnica (Arnica chamissonis ssp. foliosa).

These vigorous, hardy perennials love fresh-humid sites in sun or partial shade. They bloom from June to August and, unlike native arnica, can handle limestone soils. American arnica grows as a groundcover.

Asters (Aster)

Rough-leaf asters (Aster novae-angliae) and smooth-leaf asters (Aster novi-belgii) are especially hardy, originating from the sunny North American prairies where winters can be quite cold. Flowering time is in September and October.

Tangle bellflower (Campanula glomerata ‘Acaulis’)

The variety ‘Acaulis’ is a very hardy variety with purple flowers. Like all varieties, it blooms between June and August. The plant grows over time as a good ground cover, preferably in a sunny location with dry to fresh soil. There, these very hardy perennials are not so picky.

Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium caeruleum)

As a wild perennial, Jacob’s ladder is very hardy anyway. It prefers fresh to moist and preferably nutrient-rich, sunny locations. It grows, for example, in cottage gardens and along stream or pond banks. Flowering time is in June and July.


Marsh Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)

With swamp meadowsweet you have a hardy perennial for moist to wet soil, so it is ideal for planting in a garden pond. Meadowsweet blooms from June to August. The variety ‘Plena’, which is less vigorous compared to the pure species, has double white flowers.

Worm fern (Dryopteris filix-mas)

Worm fern is a primitive-looking, especially hardy fern for grove edges in the garden, pond edges and other locations with fresh soil. The robust ferns are very suitable as part of flower bouquets.

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5 more sensitive perennials that would like winter protection

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

The well-known seasoning herb rosemary is strictly speaking a half-shrub with shoots that become woody, but it is also available in perennial nurseries. This plant needs winter protection, otherwise frosts as low as minus ten degrees Celsius will harm it.

Anemone coronaria ‘De Caen’

These conditionally hardy plants grow from tubers and love fresh soil in sunny or semi-shady locations. Flowering time is from April to June. If you don’t want to dig up the tubers in the fall, provide a thick mantle of foliage for winter protection.

Chocolate flower (Cosmos atrosanguineus).

These popular scented plants are not reliably frost hardy and either need protection or are dug up in the fall and overwintered in the basement. Flowering time is from July to October.


Bulbous silk plant (Asclepias tuberosa).

The showy, orange flowers of this perennial cannot be missed from June to August. Summer flowers love sun, well-drained soil, and light shelter in winter, especially from moisture. The subspecies “interior” is much hardier compared to the species.

Mountain chamomile (Anthemis marschalliana)

These perennials, low at just over 20 centimeters, love dry sites and well-drained soil. Flowering time is from June to July. Lack of winter hardiness is not even a problem with these perennials, but they should be protected from winter dampness.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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