Perennials for Cold Zones - Diane's Flower Seeds
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Hardy Perennials for Zones 3-4

Perennials for Cold Zones
by Diane Linsley 

One of the hardest things about being a gardener in zones 3-4 is finding perennials that can survive the winter. When I was a young gardener, we lived in a small town in Colorado. The local nursery didn't carry many perennials. Or maybe I didn't know what to look for. So I ended up planting a hybrid tea rose each spring, just to discover that it was dead the following year.

After we moved to Utah, I started growing perennials from seed. We live in zone 5b, so I have many perennials that I couldn't have grown in Colorado's zone 4. I enjoy having a lot to choose from. But sometimes I think about what I would grow if I ever moved to a colder zone. Colorado is a beautiful place to live. So this article is dedicated to gardeners in zones 3-4.

As an adventurous gardener, I like to push the limits. I have succeeded in overwintering perennials that are only hardy to zone 6 or 7 by growing them against a south-facing wall. Mulching the garden with wood chips also helps protect perennials from the cold. 

The following perennials are hardy to zone 4. Some are hardy to zone 3. 

Hardy Perennials for Cold Zones 3-4

Aethionema schistosum
Allium cernnum
Allium christophii
Allium aflatunense
Allium 'Purple Sensation'
Alyssum montanum
Alyssum saxatile
Aquilegia 'McKana's Giants' -- For more aquilegia species, see Perennial Seeds.
Asclepias tuberosa
Aster azureus
Aubrieta deltoidea
Baptisia australis
Campanula carpatica
Campanula glomerata 'Superba'
Campanula latifolia 'Brantwood'
Campanula persicifolia
Campanula rotundifolia
Centranthus ruber
Cheiranthus allionii
Dalea purpurea
Dianthus arenarius
Dianthus barbatus
Dianthus deltoides 'Flashing Lights'
Dianthus pinifolius
Dianthus superbus 'Crimsonia'
Digitalis floribunda -- For more digitalis species, see Perennial Seeds.
Dracocephalum tanguticum
Echinacea purpurea -- For more echinacea species, see Perennial Seeds.
Eupatorium maculatum
Euphorbia polychroma
Gaillardia aristata
Gaillardia 'Burgundy'
Geum 'Blazing Sunset' -- For more geum, see Perennial Seeds.
Gypsophila pacifica
Hesperis matronalis
Hibiscus lasiocarpus
Liatris spicta -- For more liatris species, see Perennial Seeds.
Linum perenne
Lunaria annua
Lupine 'Russell Hybrids'
Lychnis chalcedonica
Lychnis coronaria
Lychnis viscaria 'Feuer'
Myosotis sylvatica
Oenothera missouriensis
Papaver atlanticum
Papaver nudicaule
Papaver orientale
Penstemon calycosus -- For more penstemon species, see Perennial Seeds.
Perovskia atriplicifolia
Platycodon grandiflorus
Polemonium caeruleum
Pulsatilla vulgaris
Ratibida columnifera
Ratibida pinnata
Rudbeckia triloba
Salvia officinalis
Salvia transylvanica 'Blue Spires'
Salvia 'Violet Queen'
Silene orientalis
Solidago nemoralis
Thalictrum minus 'Adiantifolium'
Verbascum phoeniceum
Viola tricolor 'Helen Mount'

Annuals for Cold Zones

Rather than give a long list, I'll just make some general recommendations. All of the annuals on this website can be grown in zones 3-4, but some are easier than others. Gardeners with short growing seasons may want to select annuals that bloom quickly from seed. 

Self-sowing annuals are my favorites because they come back each year from seeds that drop to the ground at the end of the season. If you grow late-blooming annuals like cleome, cosmos and zinnias, start seeds indoors to get a head start on the growing season.

Related Articles

First-Year Flowering Perennials -- Get more bang for your buck.

Shade-Tolerant Flowers -- Perennials and annuals for difficult shady spots.

Container Garden Design -- Create eye-catching container gardens.

Recommended Books

Designing with Plants by Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury

Tasha Tudor's Garden by Tova Martin & Richard W. Brown

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