Frost And Winter Flower Gardening: The Ultimate Guide

The best way to enjoy your garden throughout the year is by using frost-tolerant plants, even in icy weather.

Winter gardens are beautiful, especially in the midst of dreary weather. At that time of year, a burst of color can lift your spirits and make you look forward to spring.

Winter bedding plants are a good way to achieve this. Winter annuals such as these add texture and color to your garden, providing your garden with a wide range of textures and colors. To make a winter garden still beautiful, combine them with shrubs, ground covers, perennials, and bulbs.

There are a number of beautiful winter bedding plants that can withstand harsh conditions. As a matter of fact, most of them come from alpine regions and can cope quite well with winters. Among the best examples is the pansy. Watch a frozen pansy flower shatter when you drop it on a hard surface early in the morning as a cool party trick. When the plant you cut the flower from is frozen solid at night, the flowers will thaw out during the daylight and display their color as if they were perfectly normal to be frozen solid at night. Incredibly impressive.

However, what happens if there is a black frost on the way? Plants rarely survive one of those nasty events, so if you’re monitoring the weather report and you see one coming, cover your plants with a frost cover. Alternatively, you can buy one on Amazon (affiliate link) or in any good garden center.

If there is a particularly severe frost, don’t water late in the afternoon during winter. During the day, the leaves of your garden will dry out, so it is best to water them in the morning.

Due to the cold, winter bedding plants are best fertilized through their leaves since everything becomes very sluggish in the soil zone. They thrive despite the cold because of this.


Flowerbeds, containers, hanging baskets and window boxes are all good places for winter bedding plants. Place them around your house and yard wherever you’d like some bright colors. In flowerbeds, you can use dwarf plants as edging, while taller varieties should be placed in the center. Rockeries are also a good place for many of them to grow. Well-drained soil is all you need.

Place plants that only tolerate a light frost along a wall that faces the winter sun if they can only tolerate a light frost.


There is a shallow root system in most winter bedding plants. Containers are an ideal place to grow them because of this. It’s great to be able to move containers around to brighten up the places you’d like to brighten. To make your winter container efforts interesting, choose plants that are different in height, texture, and color.

Hardy Winter Annuals Flowering Plant List

Good garden centers offer a wide selection of winter hardy annuals. To get you started, here are some ideas.

Heavy Frost

  • Alyssum
  • Calendula
  • Antirrinum
  • Island Poppy
  • Dianthus
  • Ornamental Kale
  • For hardiness zones 9 and 10, Nemesia will act as perennials. The plants are otherwise hardy winter annuals.
  • Also called fig marigold or mesembryanthemum. Zones 2 to 8 will be able to grow this as a winter-hardy annual.
  • Pansy: What is cool about this one is that you can also eat it. As mentioned above, it is very hardy. It will survive winters up to zone 4.
  • Stock
  • Phlox are perennials best suited for zones 4 through 9 and hardy to zone 8.
  • There is also a lot of toughness in violas. Violets add a wonderful spark of brightness to the dreary winter landscape with their purple, yellow, blue, and white colors. Despite freezing snow and very heavy rains, they tend to bounce back well.
  • Verbena

Light frost

  • Lobelia
  • Nicotiana
  • Mimulus
  • Schizanthus
  • Petunia (they won’t flower all winter)
  • Snapdragons: These are actually pretty frost tender, but if you can put them somewhere where they won’t get snow or frost on them, they will flower beautifully throughout winter.

High Shade Areas

  • Bellis perennis (English daisy)
  • Foxglove
  • In winter, Cineraria will survive frost; in early spring, it will not.
  • Lily of the Valley.
  • Primula.

Hardy Perrenials Winter Flowering Plant List

  • Christmas isn’t Christmas without some holly. You’ll need a female version of the plant if you want the red berries.
  • As long as the soil is dry, this hardy desert perennial will survive the winter. It is best to grow it in pots if you can control how much water it receives.
  • Dogwood Trees: Although they don’t flower in winter (they are lovely in spring), they still produce red fruit clusters in winter.
  • Put them in a pot by your doorstep or another protected area to make lovely winter color. Pointsettias need to be frost-free.
  • Several winter-hardy varieties of Juniper exist. It’s not for their flowering per se, but the blue hue they create in the garden is lovely in winter. In the early stages of the tree’s life, it will need protection from frost and wind with a burlap surround. Once it becomes more established, it will withstand typical winter conditions.

Additional Frost Survival Tips

  • Ensure that your seedlings are healthy to begin with. Start them off on the right foot.
  • You can reduce disease risk in the garden by moving the same varieties around each winter.
  • The seedlings should be watered before transplanting, then planted after a few hours.
  • While planting the seedlings, be gentle with them. Keep your hands off their leaves and stems when pulling them out. From below, push out the root ball instead.
  • Planting areas should be prepared well by digging in compost and adding slow-release fertilizer.
  • Keep the soil moist until the seedlings are established by watering them well. To encourage strong root growth, water deeply and infrequently once they have been moved to their new location. Avoid frequent and light watering.
  • Make sure the seedlings are planted at the same depth as they were in their seedling containers. Around the rootball, firm the soil lightly.
  • To keep them flowering for as long as possible, keep removing old flowers (deadheading). Learn more about deadheading flowers in this article.


I’ve been around farming all of my life. Farmers Life Blog is a way I can share my passion for all things farming and gardening and hopefully share some of my knowledge and experience through the process. Shootin' the breeze doesn't have to be confined to the front porch anymore, now there's a whole world to share my deep and abiding love with.

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