Cold Hardy Shrubs: How To Find Shrubs For Zone 3 Gardens

zone 3 shrub
zone 3 shrub
(Image credit: Latvian)

If your home is in one of the northern states, you may live in zone 3. Temperatures in zone 3 can dip to minus 30 or 40 degrees F. (-34 to -40 C.), so you’ll need to find cold hardy shrubs to populate your garden. If you are looking for shrubs for zone 3 gardens, read on for a few suggestions.

Growing Shrubs in Cold Climates

Sometimes, trees are just too big, and annuals are just too small for that empty area of your garden. Shrubs fill that in-between slot, growing anywhere from a few feet tall (1 m.) to the size of a small tree. They work well in hedges and also for specimen planting. When you are picking shrubs for zone 3 gardens, you’ll find helpful information by looking at the zone or range of zones assigned to each one. These zones tell you whether the plants are sufficiently cold hardy to thrive in your area. If you pick zone 3 bushes to plant, you’ll have fewer problems.

Cold Hardy Shrubs

Zone 3 bushes are all cold hardy shrubs. They can survive very low temperatures and are the best choices for shrubs in cold climates. Which shrubs work as zone 3 bushes? These days, you can find cold hardy cultivars for plants that used to only be for warmer regions, like forsythia. One cultivar to look at is Northern Gold forsythia (Forsythia "Northern Gold"), one of the shrubs for zone 3 gardens that blooms in spring. In fact, forsythia is usually the first shrub to flower, and its brilliant yellow, showy flowers can light up your backyard. If you’d like a plum tree, you’ll have your choice of two large bushes that are definitely cold hardy shrubs. Double Flowering plum (Prunus triloba "Multiplex") is extremely cold hardy, surviving zone 3 temperatures and even thriving in zone 2. Princess Kay plum (Prunus nigra "Princess Kay") is equally hardy. Both are small plum trees with beautiful white spring flowers. If you want to plant a bush native to the region, Red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericeabears) might fit the bill. This red-twig dogwood offers scarlet shoots and frothy white blossoms. The flowers are followed by white berries that provide food for wildlife. Bunchberry dogwood (Cornus canadensis) is another excellent choice among zone 3 bushes. You can also take your pick from among the prostrate forms of broadleaf evergreen shrubs.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.