Cold Hardy Annuals – Choosing Annual Plants For Cold Climates

(Image credit: Tom Meaker)

Cold hardy annuals are a great way to extend the color in your garden into the cool months of spring and fall. In warmer climates, they’ll even last through winter. Keep reading to learn more about good annual plants for cold climates.

Cold Tolerant Annuals

It’s important to understand the difference between cold-tolerant annuals and perennials. Annuals get their name because their natural life cycle lasts for just one growing season. They won’t live through winter like cold hardy perennials will. That being said, they will last much longer into the cold season than tender annuals, and may actually thrive in cool weather. If you’re growing cold hardy annual flowers, you can’t go wrong with these annuals that tolerate the cold:

These cold-tolerant annuals can be planted outside in early spring or late summer to provide bright colors at a time when more tender annuals can’t survive. Some other cold-tolerant annuals can be sown directly in the ground as seeds before the last frost of the spring. These flowering plants include:

Additional Annuals That Tolerate Cold

When selecting cold hardy annuals, nothing says you have to draw the line at flowers. Some vegetables are very tolerant of the cold and provide welcome, intense color. These vegetables can be started early in the spring before the last frost, or in late summer to last through several frosts well into the fall. Some good choices include:

If you live in a climate that experiences light to no winter frosts, these plants will do best planted in the fall to grow through the cool months of winter.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.