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

Perennials for Cold Zones 3-4
by Diane Linsley

What are the best perennials for cold zones?

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

Aethionema schistosum


Alyssum montanum

Alyssum saxatile


Asclepias tuberosa



Baptisia australis


Centranthus ruber

Cheiranthus allionii

Dalea purpurea




Dracocephalum ruyschiana


Euphorbia polychroma



Hesperis matronalis


Linum narbonense 'Heavenly Blue'

Lunaria annua

Lupinus perennis


Myosotis sylvatica

Oenothera missouriensis

Papaver orientale

Penstemon calycosus

Perovskia atriplicifolia

Platycodon grandiflorus


Ratibida columnifera

Rudbeckia triloba

Salvia officinalis

Salvia transsylvanica 'Blue Spires'

Salvia 'Violet Queen'

Saponaria ocymoides

Silene orientalis

Thalictrum aquilegifolium

Verbascum phoeniceum

Viola tricolor

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 -- Plants that bloom the first year from seed.

Shade-Tolerant Flowers -- Annuals and perennials for difficult shady spots.

Container Flower Seeds -- The best annuals and perennials for containers.

Recommended Books

Designing with Plants by Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury

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


Annual Flower Seeds

Perennial Flower Seeds

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