Heat Loving Plants That Tolerate Cold: Choosing Cold Hardy Sun Plants

Purple Flowered Plants
cold sun plant
(Image credit: skymoon13)

Living in a northern climate shouldn't preclude homeowners from having beautiful landscaping filled with perennial plants. Yet, all too often, cold climate gardeners find their sun loving perennials don't make it through the winter. The solution is finding heat loving plants that tolerate cold climates.

How to Find Cold-Hardy Sun Plants 

When searching for cold tolerant plants for sun flowerbeds, many gardeners pay attention to the USDA hardiness zones for their location. These maps are derived from the average temperature ranges for the area. Most plant tags and online plant catalogs contain hardiness information.

Sunset climate zones are a different type of mapping system based more closely on microclimates within a region. This system can give gardeners a better view of their own backyard and can be helpful when choosing full sun plants in cold climates.

Heat Loving Plants that Tolerate Cold Climates

If you're searching cold tolerant species for a sunny spot in the garden, consider the following:

Flowering Cold Hardy Sun Plants

  • Asters (Asteraceae) – These late season blooming flowers supply beautiful shades of pinks and purples to the fall landscape. Many varieties of asters are hardy in zones 3 to 8.
  • Coneflowers (Echinacea) – Available in a range of colors, coneflowers are daisy-like perennials hardy in zones 3 to 9.
  • Catmint (Nepeta faassenii) – Similar in color and appearance to lavender, catmint makes a good alternative for gardens in hardiness zone 4 where lavender is unlikely to survive the winter.
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis) – With winter hardiness in zones 4 through 9, daylilies can provide colorful blossoms and attractive foliage to enhance any garden design.
  • Delphinium (Delphinium) – The tall, spiky flowers of the delphinium add elegance to back and edges of any flowerbed. Hardy in zones 3 to 7, these giants prefer cooler climates.
  • Hollyhocks (Alcea) – Considered short-lived perennials, hollyhocks are brightly colored cottage garden favorites hardy in zones 3 to 8.
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) – These easily grown, sun loving perennial flowers add charm to the late spring, early summer flowerbed. Yarrow is hardy in zones 3 to 9.

Foliage Cold Tolerant Plants for Sun

  • Hens and chickens (Sempervivum tectorum) – These low growing, old-fashioned favorites love the sun and can survive zone 4 climates. In zone 3 and lower, simply lift hens and chicks and store indoors for the winter.
  • Sedum (Sedum) – Although perennial species of sedum die to the ground during the winter, these flowering succulents return each spring with renewed energy. Most species are hardy in zones 4 to 9. Some varieties can withstand zone 3 winters.
  • Silver mound (Artemisia schmidtiana) – The soft, feathery foliage of this full sun plant makes a welcome addition to any brightly colored flowerbed. Silver mound is hardy in zones 3 to 9.
  • Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) – Even after the leaves of this deciduous holly shrub drop, the bright red or orange berries add interest to the winter garden. Winterberry is hardy to zone 2.
Laura Miller

Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.