Perennials That Will Survive Harsh Winters

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Perennials That Will Survive Harsh Winters

a group of monarda flowers in a garden

Short Answer: Perennials that can survive the coldest winters are a testament to nature’s resilience, offering hardy options for gardeners in cooler climates. Plants like Siberian Iris, Peony, and Hosta are renowned for their ability to withstand harsh winter conditions, often thriving in USDA hardiness zones as low as 3 or 4. These perennials not only survive but can bloom spectacularly in the spring and summer, following their winter dormancy. Additionally, varieties such as Hellebores and Sedum offer evergreen foliage or retain their structure in winter, adding visual interest to the garden even in the coldest months. Gardeners should consider these robust plants for a year-round garden that can endure and flourish despite severe winter weather.


It is essential to know which cold climate plants are tough enough to survive the freezing temperatures of your region’s winter weather before they arrive. Here are some reliable, cold-hardy perennial plants that can withstand a polar vortex or two and return strong in the spring. Don’t forget to check the plant’s hardiness in your Zone before purchasing it.

Showy Stonecrop

Need a colorful, taller plant for the back of the border? Try showy stonecrop (Hylotelephium spectabile), which can take hot summers and cold winters. It’s also a drought-tolerant perennial, so it makes a good choice if rainfall is scarce in your area.

  • Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil
  • Size: Up to 2 feet tall and wide
  • Zones: 3-9

Peony

Peonies are a reliable source of color for the gardens in the Northern region during spring. These plants are tough enough to survive the long and frigid winters. Available in various colors and flower forms, you can easily find one or more that fits perfectly with your garden’s design.

  • Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil
  • Size: Up to 3 feet tall and wide
  • Zones: 3-8

Coneflower

An American native perennial, coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is a challenging and rugged flowering plant that tolerates drought well. Its large flowers bloom through the summer and fall, drawing pollinators. Varieties are available in a wide range of colors, like pink, purple, yellow, orange, red, and white, plus a few different flower forms. Most varieties are hardy enough for cold weather, but some modern hybrids aren’t very cold weather-tolerant, so check the plant label before you buy.

  • Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil
  • Size: Up to 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide
  • Zones: 3-8

Bee Balm

a group of monarda flowers in a garden

Bring bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies to the garden with bee balm (Monarda spp.) This upright, aromatic perennial develops beautiful flowers resembling mopheads that can be pink, red, orange, purple, or white, depending on the variety you choose. This plant belongs to the mint family, and like many other mint relatives, it can spread quickly, so place it where it will have room to ramble.

  • Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil
  • Size: Up to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide
  • Zones: 4-9

Wild Columbine

A delightful spring bloomer, wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) forms large colonies in partially shady locations. Each plant might only live a few years, but they re-seed easily, so a patch of this perennial will likely sustain itself for decades. Its wiry stems support pink and yellow flowers bobbing and dancing on spring breezes.

  • Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil
  • Size: Up to 36 inches tall and 18 inches wide
  • Zones: 3-8

Coral Bells

Pack a ton of color into your shady garden beds with coral bells (Heuchera spp.). Often prized for their colorful foliage, coral bells come in shades of purple, green, yellow, orange, red, and multicolored varieties. As a bonus, the plants send up spikes of pink or white bell-shaped flowers in the early summer, attracting pollinators.

  • Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil
  • Size: Up to 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide
  • Zones: 3-8

Siberian Iris

Native to northern Turkey and Russia, Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) isn’t bothered when temperatures drop below zero. This reliable perennial puts on a spectacular spring show of blue, purple, lilac, yellow, or white flowers. It also produces thick clumps of dark green, straplike leaves that provide lasting beauty after it blooms.

  • Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in medium moist, well-drained soil
  • Size: Up to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide
  • Zones: 3-8

‘Moonbeam’ Coreopsis

Throughout the summer, ‘Moonbeam’ coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata) produces a seemingly endless supply of cheerful yellow flowers. It’s also a rugged variety that takes cold winter temperatures in stride. Not all coreopsis varieties are as winter hardy as ‘Moonbeam’, so check the plant label before you buy.

  • Growing Conditions: Full sun in medium moist, well-drained soil
  • Size: Up to 2 feet tall and wide
  • Zones: 3-9

Baptisia

Denny Schrock

Once established, baptism can last for decades. Also called false indigo, this hardy prairie native has pretty gray-green foliage topped with spring sprays of blue, purple, white, or yellow flowers. Thanks to its prairie heritage, baptisia can tolerate summer heat and below-zero winters. This perennial grows slowly, so buy the most significant plants you can find if you want a faster flower show.

  • Test Garden Tip: Baptisia can be a bit fussy when transplanted, so place it in your garden in the early spring or fall. The plant will have plenty of time to develop a strong root system before summer’s heat.
  • Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in dry to medium moist, well-drained soil
  • Size: Up to 4 feet tall and wide
  • Zones: 3-9

Catmint

If you’re looking for a plant with flowers similar to lavender, but more winter-hardy, consider catmint (Nepeta spp.). It produces beautiful lavender-like flowers during spring and summer. Additionally, it has fragrant leaves just like lavender. Once the first wave of flowers fades in spring, you can shear back the plant to promote a second wave of bloom in late summer.

  • Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in dry to medium moist, well-drained soil
  • Size: Up to 30 inches tall and 36 inches wide
  • Zones: 4-8

False Sunflower

An American native, false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) produces masses of cheerful yellow flowers all summer long. Plant this large perennial where it can spread out. False sunflower isn’t fussy about soil type but does need full sun to keep stems upright; it’ll flop over if grown in part shade. The blooms make pretty cut flowers; the more you miss, the more the plant will produce.

  • Growing Conditions: Full sun in dry to medium moist, well-drained soil
  • Size: Up to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide
  • Zones: 3-9

New England Aster

Keep your garden colorful through the fall by adding a generous dose of New England asters (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae). These easy-care natives bloom just as other perennials in your garden start to flag. New England asters are also a popular source of nectar for migrating monarch butterflies on their way south each year. Available in shades of pink and purple, asters look terrific paired with ornamental grasses and chrysanthemums.

  • Growing Conditions: Full sun in medium moist, well-drained soil
  • Size: Up to 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide
  • Zones: 4-8

Hosta

Make hostas the backbone of your shade garden. Unfazed by cold winters, hostas keep growing bigger and better every year. Because these hardy perennials are available in a seemingly endless selection of shapes, sizes, and colors, they’re fun to mix and match in your garden. They also make perfect companions for other shade-lovers such as astilbe, deadnettle, barrenwort, coral bells, and bleeding hearts.

  • Growing Conditions: Part shade in evenly moist, well-drained soil
  • Size: Up to 18 inches tall and 30 inches wide
  • Zones: 3-8

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in the USA

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
Northeast (e.g., New York, Massachusetts)Rose, Purple Lilac, Mountain LaurelSugar Maple, American Elm, White Pine
Southeast (e.g., Florida, Georgia)Orange Blossom, Cherokee Rose, Southern MagnoliaLive Oak, Spanish Moss, Saw Palmetto
Midwest (e.g., Ohio, Illinois)Carnation, Violet, Purple ConeflowerBur Oak, Prairie Grasses, Wild Bergamot
Southwest (e.g., Texas, Arizona)Bluebonnet, Saguaro Cactus Flower, Indian PaintbrushJoshua Tree, Agave, Mesquite
West (e.g., California, Washington)California Poppy, Coast Rhododendron, BitterrootGiant Sequoia, Redwood, Manzanita
Rocky Mountain (e.g., Colorado, Montana)Rocky Mountain Columbine, Bitterroot, Indian PaintbrushBlue Spruce, Aspen, Sagebrush
Great Plains (e.g., Kansas, Nebraska)Sunflower, Goldenrod, Purple ConeflowerCottonwood, Bluestem Grasses, Buffalo Grass
Pacific Northwest (e.g., Oregon, Alaska)Oregon Grape, Forget-me-not, Pacific RhododendronDouglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Ferns

This table includes the most popular flowers and plants in the USA by region, which considers a range of botanical species, including native and widely cultivated varieties.

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in Australia

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
New South WalesWaratah, Bottlebrush, Flannel FlowerEucalyptus, Acacia, Banksia
VictoriaCommon Heath, Waxflower, Pink HeathMountain Ash, Silver Wattle, Victorian Blue Gum
QueenslandCooktown Orchid, Golden Penda, Umbrella Tree FlowerMoreton Bay Fig, Macadamia Nut, Queensland Bottle Tree
South AustraliaSturt's Desert Pea, Kangaroo Paw, Eucalyptus BlossomAdelaide Blue Gum, South Australian Blue Gum, Saltbush
Western AustraliaRed and Green Kangaroo Paw, Mangles Kangaroo Paw, Swan River DaisyJarrah, Marri, Karri
TasmaniaTasmanian Blue Gum, Leatherwood Flower, Tasmanian WaratahHuon Pine, Tasmanian Oak, Myrtle Beech
Northern TerritorySturt's Desert Rose, Frangipani, Desert RoseBoab, Gidgee, Spinifex
Australian Capital TerritoryRoyal Bluebell, Australian Daisy, CorreaSnow Gum, River Red Gum, Black Mountain

This table offers a basic overview of popular flowers and plants in each Australian region, focusing on a combination of state flowers, native species, and other characteristic plants. It's important to note that specific species' popularity and prevalence can vary. This table is a simplified representation. Consulting local botanical gardens or regional horticultural societies in Australia would be ideal for more detailed and accurate information.

Charlotte Gammon

By Charlotte Gammon

Meet Charlotte Gammon, our expert and author. She's our true treasure, as she has got 20+ years of experience in gardening, winery and house design. In early 2000s, she worked for today.com magazine and was in charge of the gaardening section. Later on, Charlotte opened her own designer agency and worked as a designer and decorator. We are happy to have Charlotte with us, as she is our good friend. We value her experience and we're sure you will love the articles she created for our blog.