For the novice gardener, figuring out when to plant which plants can be an overwhelming and frustrating task. Moreover, in most areas of the United States, the transition to Spring is a slow one, meaning there’s always a risk of a cold weather snap coming along and destroying all of your hard work. There are some plants, however, that are both cold weather tolerant and easy to grow. Here are the ten best cooler weather plants for the beginning gardener:
Mint is an herb, which makes it easier to grow than many other plants, and it will come up year after year. Though mint isn’t considered an “official” freeze-tolerant plant, I’ve had mint come up when it was as low as 25 degrees outside. Mint’s aggressive growth and perennial status makes it difficult to kill and it’s an excellent choice for the beginning gardener.
Almost all varieties of lettuce can tolerate temperatures just above freezing. Be warned that lettuce will die after a frost, so make sure to cover your lettuce if there’s a risk of frost in your area.
Collars are true cold weather champs and can tolerate a hard freeze. Interestingly, they also will do well in warmer climates (though not extremely hot), which means planting collards means you’ll have fresh greens for most of the growing season.
Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, and Kale
Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, and Kale are probably the heartiest cold weather crops around. Even several days of a freeze won’t kill these tough plants. However, these plants tend to die in warmer climates, so make sure you plant either early or late in the growing season in order to have a full harvest.
Daffodils aren’t technically freeze-tolerant plants, but they are the earliest flowers to come up in the beginning of Spring, usually in January or February depending upon where you live. Planting daffodils while it’s still cold ensures you’ll have beautiful flowers as soon as warmer weather comes along.
Broccoli thrives in cold weather, making it a great choice for fall. Planting in early Spring will also give you a full harvest of broccoli, and broccoli will typically tolerate a day or two of frost and freezing weather.
Petunias are among the most versatile plants in the flower world because they can tolerate both very warm and very cold climates. Plant petunias in early spring and you’ll have beautiful bunches of flowers well into the summer.
There’s a reason Cranberries are associated with Christmas, and it’s the amazing cold tolerance of these beautiful shrubs. A small bush, they can be planted almost anywhere in your garden and will survive even the harshest of climates.
It’s important to note that there’s a huge variety from plant to plant and that some hybrids of plants do better in cold weather than others. Except in the case of cranberries, brussels sprouts, spinach, and kale, it’s generally a good idea to avoid planting till there’s no longer a risk of freezing temperatures. Check the information that comes with your plant, and ask your local garden store about cold tolerant hybrids of popular plants like tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes.