Freeze-Proof Plants

Find tough-as-nails plants that can survive your coldest winters.


This rugged native wildflower can grow just about anywhere, and most varieties are hardy to Zone 3. Cut down the stems, then add 3-4 inches of mulch to insulate the plants through the winter to help them bounce back beautifully next summer.


If you’re looking for cool-weather color that just won’t quit, plant some pansies. The cheery blooms can survive sudden cold snaps, as well as tolerate weather in the single digits for several hours. Gardeners in Zone 6 and higher can expect pansies to brighten up their landscape for the majority of the winter.


If you’ve ever planted hosta, you know the delight of watching the green leaves pop through the ground during spring. The reliable, shade-loving perennials are hardy to Zone 3.

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maples are very well-adapted to cool climates, and give brilliant hues of golden chartreuse through burgundy in fall, but they may be at their most beautiful when they are completely bare in winter. Rather than opting for evergreen everything, try a plant that truly gives four unique seasons of interest. Japanese Maples make great winter specimens with their asymmetrical growth and contorted branches.


Violas add cheerful winter color to hardiness zones 5 to 10. Some varieties will even keep blooming through warm weather. Violas may lack the larger flowers of their cousins, the pansies, but they are both more heat and cold tolerant, and they are more continuous in their bloom!

Cabbages and Kale

Kale and cabbage also are exceptional in large containers with three in a triangular design. Plant tulips or daffodils in the center of the triangle and then place pansies around the edges.


Any Southern gardener will tell you collards were a garden staple long before kale came onto the scene. The leafy greens tolerate freezing temperatures and in Zone 8 and higher, you can harvest the leafy greens all winter. In fact, collards will actually taste sweeter if harvested after a frost.

Swiss Chard

Though not as cold-hardy as kale or collards, Swiss chard will stand up to those first and last frosts of the season.

‘Purrsian Blue’ Catmint

This perennial has it all — deer resistance, drought tolerance and a long flowering period from early summer to fall frost. The plants gracefully stand up to winter, showing off silver foliage through the cold months.

Candy Stripe Phlox

‘Candy Stripe’ is a lovely, pink-and-white-striped creeping phlox that creates a carpet of color in the spring — plus, its foliage is evergreen and it’s typically hardy in zones 3 to 9, making it a great year-round groundcover for most gardeners.


Cyclamen hederifolium is a hardy performer producing prolific fall blooms. All fall it produces pink to white, ranging from three to six inches tall. They display very attractive foliage that lasts from winter through spring.


You may not expect a succulent to be considered a winter plant, but many sedum varieties are actually very hardy — some can even withstand Zone 3 winters. Leave the seedheads on the plant to add winter interest.