Frost-Hardy Annuals for Early Spring Planting

by: Kent Hixson

As the snow melts off our flowerbeds, we begin to dream of planting our favorite bedding plants. It is well known that Jack Frost can visit our area well into mid-May and can damage tender plants. So what is a gardener to do? We recommend you plant frost-hardy bedding plants such as hardy annuals and perennials. Select plants that have been cold frame-grown or those that have been hardened-off. They will tolerate frosty mornings better than those that are greenhouse-tender.

Frost-hardy bedding plants include all perennials and many annuals. Those annuals that can withstand 20 degrees or so include pansies, snapdragons, dianthus, alyssum, dusty miller, viola, flowering cabbage and kale. Keep in mind that flowers may be a bit ragged after such cold but the plants should come through fine. Annuals able to tolerate a light frost include varieties of petunia, nicotiana, calendula, Victoria sage, and verbena canadensis. There are half-hardy annuals which tolerate cold temperatures but not direct frost. Select from the upright verbenas, asters, ageratum, gazania, geraniums, and lobelia.

One measure of inexpensive protection is to keep frost cloth or row cover material handy to cover up beds during really chilly periods or when harsh winds start to blow. All these frost-hardy annuals and perennials can be used in containers set out on decks and patios to brighten up our outdoor living areas. We invite you to come out to the nursery to see the huge selection of hardy plants waiting to be planted for an exceptional early burst of color in your garden.


Originally published on March 29th, 2012. Updated on March 3rd, 2023.