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8 Cool-Weather Plants

By: Garden Gate staff
Don’t stop gardening when the temperature drops! Here are 8 gorgeous cool-weather plants that don’t mind a little chill in the air.

The beauty of a frosty spring or fall morning is something to relish. Most gardeners don’t really design for it, but why not? There are plenty of cool-weather plants that not only tolerate a bit of frost, but are enhanced by it! You can set them out in spring or fall and in some climates, even watch them bloom through winter.

Find the right cool-weather plant

Here are eight plants that thrive in cool weather. Many of the flowers are available in a variety of colors, so you have a lot of options if you are looking for a particular color. Browse the tables at your garden center or peruse your favorite mail-order nursery’s offerings to find the one that’s just right for your garden. 

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English daisy (Bellis perennis)

As English daisy blooms and matures, its narrow petals multiply inward until the bright yellow center is hardly visible. This petite perennial flowers in shades of red, pink or white and sometimes bicolors, such as Bellisima Rose Bicolor above. Make sure plants have some shade, even if it’s from nearby perennials, and stay well-watered. A short-lived perennial, English daisy thrives in early spring or fall, but treat it as a winter annual where summers are hot.

Type Perennial Blooms Flowers are red, pink, white or pink and white bicolor Light Part shade Size 6 to 10 in. tall and 5 to 12 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8

Stock (Matthiola incana)

The lush flowers of stock, such as 'Hot Cakes Purple', are beautiful, but this tender perennial also offers a rich, spicy scent that’s a joy to have around. To take full advantage of the wonderful fragrance grow it in a windowbox or along a path that you walk frequently. Pinch back the growing tips before they bud out for fuller plants.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms White, pink, red or purple Light Full sun to part shade Size 12 to 18 in. tall and 10 to 12 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10

Cape daisy (Osteospermum hybrids)

These charming daisylike flowers are white, purple, yellow, orange, rose or bronze, and many varieties have a contrasting center. ‘Orange Symphony’ above is a great example, with its striking purple and orange combo. Some varieties perform better with deadheading which encourages plants a quicker rebloom. But 'Orange Symphony' overgrows old flowers so there's no need. A regular application of liquid plant food helps keep cape daisy blooms going strong.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Daisylike flowers are white, purple, yellow, orange, rose or bronze, and many varieties have a contrasting center Light Full sun to part shade Size 8 to 20 in. tall and 10 to 20 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11

Nemesia (Nemesia hybrids)

There are endless options of this fragrant flower. Erect varieties, like ones in the Serengeti Upright series, make excellent filler plants in containers. In hanging baskets, trailing nemesia, like the Sunsatia® varieties (the color Cranberry Red is in the photo), are close to nose level so you can get a better whiff. Fragrance ranges from sweet to spicy clove. A self-cleaning plant, nemesia’s spent blossoms fall off without any help from you.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Almost any color you can think of, except green Light Full sun to part shade Size 6 to 24 in. tall, 12 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 8 to 10

Toadflax (Linaria maroccana)

This delicate-looking annual is also sometimes called “miniature snapdragon.” It comes in a wide range of colors — red, pink, yellow, white, apricot or magenta. Some have a bright yellow spot on the lower "lip" and others, such as Fantasy Blue are a solid color. These tough little blooms can withstand temperatures below 30 degrees F and continue flowering. Toadflax does reseed in ideal growing conditions but it's not usually a problem. Deadheading spent blooms right away will prevent this and tidy up the plant.

Type Annual Blooms Blue, pink, red, white and yellow options as well as bicolors Light Part shade to full sun Size 6 to 12 in. tall and 6 to 9 in. wide

Flowering kale (Brassica oleracea)

As the temperature turns colder, the foliage colors of flowering kale change. You’ll often notice brighter pinks and purples in the heart of the rosette. And white varieties look even frostier as the temperature goes down. Some varieties have smooth edges, some are notched and others are highly ruffled like 'Nagoya Red' in the photos. Whichever one you choose, ornamental kale adds great texture to your cool-weather beds or containers. Plants do best with regular watering and soil that has plenty of organic matter — an annual application of compost scratched into the soil will work just fine.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Yellow in spring, but grown for the colorful purple, pink, white or green foliage Light Full sun Size 12 to 18 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 7 to 11

Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)

Snapdragon hybrids range from ground-hugging trailers to those that tower to a few feet or more! Snapshot™ Orange, here, grows 6 to 10 in. tall. You can buy snapdragons in multipacks at the garden center or start your own from seed. Sow the seed outdoors in early spring or indoors 8 to 10 weeks before your last average frost date.

Type Tender perennial (Usually grown as an annual) Blooms White, yellow, orange, pink, red and everything in between — as well as bicolors Light Full sun to part shade Size 5 to 48 in. tall and 12 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10

Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis)

This versatile annual is at home in a flower bed, vegetable row or herb garden. Sow seeds directly in the ground once the soil has warmed in spring or start plants earlier indoors and transplant outside. Be sure to deadhead plants regularly to keep the flowers coming. Bon Bon™ Orange, here, has large flowers on compact 12-in.-tall plants. Pot marigold does reseed with ease but doesn't become weedy. Most named varieties don't come true, or look like the parent plant.Subsequent generations usually have single yellow to yellow-orange blooms.

Type Annual Blooms Yellow, orange, white spring to fall Light Full sun Size 6 to 30 in. tall and 12 to 18 in. wide

English daisy (Bellis perennis)

As English daisy blooms and matures, its narrow petals multiply inward until the bright yellow center is hardly visible. This petite perennial flowers in shades of red, pink or white and sometimes bicolors, such as Bellisima Rose Bicolor above. Make sure plants have some shade, even if it’s from nearby perennials, and stay well-watered. A short-lived perennial, English daisy thrives in early spring or fall, but treat it as a winter annual where summers are hot.

Type Perennial Blooms Flowers are red, pink, white or pink and white bicolor Light Part shade Size 6 to 10 in. tall and 5 to 12 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8

Toadflax (Linaria maroccana)

This delicate-looking annual is also sometimes called “miniature snapdragon.” It comes in a wide range of colors — red, pink, yellow, white, apricot or magenta. Some have a bright yellow spot on the lower "lip" and others, such as Fantasy Blue are a solid color. These tough little blooms can withstand temperatures below 30 degrees F and continue flowering. Toadflax does reseed in ideal growing conditions but it's not usually a problem. Deadheading spent blooms right away will prevent this and tidy up the plant.

Type Annual Blooms Blue, pink, red, white and yellow options as well as bicolors Light Part shade to full sun Size 6 to 12 in. tall and 6 to 9 in. wide

Stock (Matthiola incana)

The lush flowers of stock, such as 'Hot Cakes Purple', are beautiful, but this tender perennial also offers a rich, spicy scent that’s a joy to have around. To take full advantage of the wonderful fragrance grow it in a windowbox or along a path that you walk frequently. Pinch back the growing tips before they bud out for fuller plants.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms White, pink, red or purple Light Full sun to part shade Size 12 to 18 in. tall and 10 to 12 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10

Flowering kale (Brassica oleracea)

As the temperature turns colder, the foliage colors of flowering kale change. You’ll often notice brighter pinks and purples in the heart of the rosette. And white varieties look even frostier as the temperature goes down. Some varieties have smooth edges, some are notched and others are highly ruffled like 'Nagoya Red' in the photos. Whichever one you choose, ornamental kale adds great texture to your cool-weather beds or containers. Plants do best with regular watering and soil that has plenty of organic matter — an annual application of compost scratched into the soil will work just fine.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Yellow in spring, but grown for the colorful purple, pink, white or green foliage Light Full sun Size 12 to 18 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 7 to 11

Cape daisy (Osteospermum hybrids)

These charming daisylike flowers are white, purple, yellow, orange, rose or bronze, and many varieties have a contrasting center. ‘Orange Symphony’ above is a great example, with its striking purple and orange combo. Some varieties perform better with deadheading which encourages plants a quicker rebloom. But 'Orange Symphony' overgrows old flowers so there's no need. A regular application of liquid plant food helps keep cape daisy blooms going strong.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Daisylike flowers are white, purple, yellow, orange, rose or bronze, and many varieties have a contrasting center Light Full sun to part shade Size 8 to 20 in. tall and 10 to 20 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11

Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)

Snapdragon hybrids range from ground-hugging trailers to those that tower to a few feet or more! Snapshot™ Orange, here, grows 6 to 10 in. tall. You can buy snapdragons in multipacks at the garden center or start your own from seed. Sow the seed outdoors in early spring or indoors 8 to 10 weeks before your last average frost date.

Type Tender perennial (Usually grown as an annual) Blooms White, yellow, orange, pink, red and everything in between — as well as bicolors Light Full sun to part shade Size 5 to 48 in. tall and 12 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10

Nemesia (Nemesia hybrids)

There are endless options of this fragrant flower. Erect varieties, like ones in the Serengeti Upright series, make excellent filler plants in containers. In hanging baskets, trailing nemesia, like the Sunsatia® varieties (the color Cranberry Red is in the photo), are close to nose level so you can get a better whiff. Fragrance ranges from sweet to spicy clove. A self-cleaning plant, nemesia’s spent blossoms fall off without any help from you.

Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Almost any color you can think of, except green Light Full sun to part shade Size 6 to 24 in. tall, 12 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 8 to 10

Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis)

This versatile annual is at home in a flower bed, vegetable row or herb garden. Sow seeds directly in the ground once the soil has warmed in spring or start plants earlier indoors and transplant outside. Be sure to deadhead plants regularly to keep the flowers coming. Bon Bon™ Orange, here, has large flowers on compact 12-in.-tall plants. Pot marigold does reseed with ease but doesn't become weedy. Most named varieties don't come true, or look like the parent plant.Subsequent generations usually have single yellow to yellow-orange blooms.

Type Annual Blooms Yellow, orange, white spring to fall Light Full sun Size 6 to 30 in. tall and 12 to 18 in. wide

Published: Sept. 11, 2018
Updated: Nov. 17, 2020
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