13 Frost Tolerant Plants to Grow When it's Cold
Gardening is not just reserved for the warm seasons. If you're like us, and always want to have fresh vegetables on hand, there is good news! There are a variety of frost tolerant plants and vegetables that allow the excited horticulturalist to grow in less than optimal conditions.
Typically a hard frost would kill any attempt to grow vegetables in your garden, but there are some plants that persevere! Below we outline 13 frost tolerant plants that can keep your gardening hunger at bay. However proper planning, some simple math, and a few defensive measures can make all the difference when growing during the colder seasons.
How to Prep your Garden for Growing during the Winter
Add Nutrients with Cover Crops or Layering
Everything needs nutrients, including your garden. Growing cover crops such as Alfalfa, Red Clover, and Winter Rape will protect and add nutrients to your garden over the winter season.
Layering is the process of taking decomposing materials, such as compost or leaf mold, and temporarily covering your garden's soil for it to mix with and absorb over time. Using this method is typically best during the dead of winter, especially if you're looking to grow frost tolerant plants in late winter or early spring. Here's more on this method: Winterizing your Garden.
Find your Killing Frost Date and Plant Before it!
Another strategy to improve your garden’s production is to schedule your planting before your area gets its first hard frost. To do so, identify the approximate date of the first killing frost (hard frost that is cold enough to kill most vegetables) in your area using an Almanac and plant before it, counting back the number of days needed for your intended plant to mature, mark your calendar and plant then! Seed packets will display the amount of days required until maturity.
When the day on your calendar arrives, plant your seeds and cross your fingers. Every year the weather varies, so there are no guarantees on when you'll have your first killing frost, but even if there was, where's the fun in that? This is an opportunity for you to learn about your growing opportunities and exercise your green thumbs to anticipate nature and use it to the fullest opportunity!
If winter does decide to show up earlier and colder than you expected, you don't have to throw in the towel! You can fight off this chilly arrival with some defensive measures to prolong the life of your garden with four of our favorite frost protection tips.
- Keep your Soil Wet
- 'Tent' your Garden
- Add Extra Mulch
- 'Light it Up'
You can learn more about these garden frost protection tips here.
Ready to grow?
Frost will damage most plant’s tender green tissues, or even kill the root system. It is important to use the right plants and vegetables in your garden that can handle the year’s lower temperatures. Frost resistance may be indicated by the plant's hardiness rating found on the plant’s tag or package.
To get you started, try these frost tolerant plants that will add some color and beauty to your garden.
- Sweet Peas
- Rose Mallow
- Sweet Alyssum
With winter often making your garden a bit dreary looking, these plants will give it a nice splash of life.
What are some frost tolerant vegetables?
The Brassicaceae family is extremely frost tolerant and actually perform best in cool weather. Not familiar with the scientific name? Maybe you’ll recognize their more common names:
Plant Spacing Needs for These and Those To Follow Can Be Found Here:: The all-in-one plant spacing chart and guide for raised bed gardening.
Another group of vegetables that are resilient to the cold weather are root crops. These are naturally protected by the soil and known for their durability:
The final frost-tolerant veggies are leafy greens. While not as cold hardy as the aforementioned plants, many varietals can still withstand light snow.
Gardening doesn't have to be limited to the spring and summer. With proper planning, some plant knowledge, and a desire to keep growing, your garden can thrive longer. Ready to grow? Plant these frost tolerant plants, enjoy a more vibrant view from your frosty windows, and keep on flexing your green thumbs!
Are you growing frost tolerant plants? Let us know which one's in the comment section below!
Updated for Winter 2017-2018.