Hardy perennials that do not die in winter

Hardy perennials that do not die in winter

Hardy perennials that will keep coming back year after year are plants we can all aspire to grow. Just because you live in a cold winter climate doesn’t mean you can’t have the plants in your garden come back every year. Plants that are more than one growing season old are called perennials. While some perennials need year-round warm weather to thrive, others are hardy perennials and can adapt to cold temperatures.

These plants will amaze you with their ability to sleep soundly under the winter snows, then explode with new leaves, buds and flowers in the spring. If you’re looking for the hardiest perennials, read on for some great ideas.

Choose hardy perennials for cool climates

You’ll find that the easiest way to determine if a plant is “hardy” is to look at its USDA hardiness zone range. The USDA Planting Zone Map divides the United States into 13 climate zones based on average temperatures. Each area is 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer or cooler than its neighboring area. The colder the average temperature, the lower the zone number. Zone 13 is on the warm end and Zone 1 is on the cold end.

Each plant is assigned a set of hardiness zones from the USDA in which it can thrive. Assuming a gardener knows the hardiness zone of his or her home or garden, he or she can choose hardy perennials that will ride through the winter beautifully. We’ve identified five of the cold hardiest perennials as candidates for cold winter landscapes. Each one has its own unique characteristics and is hardy up to USDA zones 2-3.

1. Red twig dogwood

The hornwort foliage changes color in fall

For colder regions, red twig dogwood (Century silk) is a shrub that provides year-round landscape beauty in cooler regions, up to USDA zones 2-3. It can grow up to 9 feet (3 m) tall and lights up the winter garden with its attractive, blood-red branches. Spring brings clusters of beautiful white flowers that develop into summer berries. Its variegated summer leaves turn pink and gold in fall.

This is a fast growing plant. Some report that their shrubs achieved new growth of up to 24 inches (61 cm) within one year. These are hardy perennials for sunny areas and moist soil. A full sun location will produce the best bark color, but it will survive in light shade as well.

2. Bleeding heart

Bleeding hearts plants bloom in early spring

Bleeding hearts plants bloom in early spring

If you’re hoping for blooms, choose a hardy flowering perennial. Bleeding heart plant (Amazing lambrocapnus) fits the bill, with unusual flowers that resemble puffy pink hearts. It grows on long, slender, arching stems that reach up to 3 feet (9 m.) in height. Each heartflower has a white petal underneath that resembles a raindrop, leading to the common name. The flowers hang on their stems for a few weeks.

Bleeding hearts are hardy in USDA zones 2-3. Bleeding heart height ranges from about 1-3 feet (30 cm to 1 m) in length and width. However, one note: if there are children or pets in the vicinity, keep in mind that the entire shrub is poisonous.

3. Serviceberry

The leaves of the service turn red in the fall

The leaves of the service turn red in the fall

Flowers are beautiful on hardy perennials, but flowers that turn into edible fruit can be even prettier. the service (Amlancher spp.) is a large shrub or small tree that can reach 25 feet (7.6 m) tall. Their hardiness zone range extends to USDA zone 2, so they’re good to go in your cool climate.

These hardy perennials are a beautiful addition to the garden. It offers white spring flowers that turn into dark purple fruit in the fall. This makes great jams and jellies. The green summer leaves turn fiery shades in the fall, then fall off to reveal the smooth gray bark.

4. Japanese yew

Japanese yew in detail showing mottled yellow-green foliage

Japanese yew in detail showing mottled yellow-green foliage

The Japanese yew cultivar ‘Dwarf Bright Gold’ is not only a perennial but also an evergreen plant. These shade-loving evergreens grow as tall as the gardener who plants them, up to 4 feet (1.2 m), and delight in their unusual, golden-colored new growth. Large hedge plants accept pruning and shearing.

Best of all are the ‘Dwarf Bright Gold’ shrubs (Taxus data) Hardy all the way down to USDA Hardiness Zone 2. They are sun-tolerant perennials and grow best in a shade-free location. Make sure to plant them in well-drained soil because yews do not tolerate wet soil.

5. Winterberry holly

Winter holly branches are full of berries and covered with snow

Winter holly branches are full of berries and covered with snow

As hardy perennials go, holly winterberry (Elex verticillata) A very attractive shrub. Its leaves are shiny and green all year round. In summer, the female trees are covered in small white flowers. As the season matures, the flowers turn into bright red fruits that hang on the tree throughout the winter.

Keep in mind that the male tree must be close to the female if you want berries. These hardy perennials grow to a height of 9 feet (2.7 m) and are hardy to USDA zone 3. They prefer a sunny location but tolerate partial shade.

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