12 Amazing Frost-Resistant Plants (For Winter Gardens!)

Winters are becoming colder every year, much to the annoyance of many gardeners. It’s devastating to lose your plants to frost, however, it doesn’t always have to be like that! Whether you’re experiencing sub-zero or single-digit temperatures, I can assure you that there’s a frost-resistant plant for you in this list!

The 12 best frost-resistant plants are

  1. Agave
  2. Christmas cacti
  3. Crocuses
  4. Flowering flax
  5. Gymnocalycium cacti
  6. Hen and chicks
  7. Hosta
  8. Ornamental kale
  9. Peonies
  10. Sedum
  11. Snowdrops
  12. Viola

As beautiful as snow is, very few home gardeners look forward to seeing their gardens so colorless and lacking in life. Keep reading forward to remedy that and discover the perfect cold-hardy plant for you!

1. Agave (Agave)

Agave are frost-resistant succulents that are hardy to -20°F, provided they are left dry. They need to be at least 10 years of age to develop flowers.

Average Size: 12–24 inches (30–60 cm)

Growing Difficulty: Easy

Agave is a genus made up of fascinating plants that are typically classified as succulents for their thick and fleshy leaves.

Ernita (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Agave Ovatifolia

Although they are native to the deserts of Mexico, they’re hardy to -20°F or -28°C!

Just make sure to keep their roots bone dry to prevent them from experiencing shock and overwatering. The agave will enter dormancy to survive in such conditions.

They can develop flowers as well. However, their flowering is such a rare and unpredictable occurrence, that agave has been nicknamed “century” plants.

2. Christmas Cacti (Schlumbergera bridgesii)

Christmas cacti are semi-frost-resistant and are commonly cultivated for their beautiful flowers. To bloom, these cacti must be exposed to winters around 55°F.

Average Size: 12–24 inches (30–60 cm)

Growing Difficulty: Moderate

The Schlumbergera bridgesii is a unique semi-frost-resistant species of cacti that are found high up in mountain rainforests rather than deserts.

Unlike the typical tropical houseplant, Christmas cacti can handle—and even require—temperatures as low as 55°F or 12°C to develop their beautiful flowers.

I must note though that these cacti hail from Brazil. Anything lower than 50°F, and this poor cacti may freeze to death and start dropping its “leaves.”

Find out Why is My Cactus Dropping Leaves? (5 Causes and 3 Fixes!) 

3. Crocuses (Crocus biflorus)

Crocuses are low-growing frost-resistant plants that can survive subzero temperatures of up to -30°F. Their small flowers typically come in white, purple, and yellow.

Average Size: 2–3 inches (5–7 cm)

Growing Difficulty: Moderate

If you’re looking for a flowering plant to help keep you company through the winter, you’ll love these colorful crocuses.

These dainty flowers are loved for their ability to pop out from the snow overnight, even at -30°F or -1°C!

Aside from their winter beauty, crocuses are often cultivated to produce saffron, an expensive and aromatic herb. But be warned that not all crocus are edible!

Discover The 11 Types of Saffron (Plus 4 Grades to Choose From!) 

4. Flowering Flax (Linum grandiflorum)

The flowering flax is an annual frost-resistant plant that can tolerate 28°F. It is known to bloom in early spring.

Average Size: 12–18 inches (30–45 cm)

Growing Difficulty: Moderate

On the topic of gorgeous blooms, let’s move on to the flowering flax.

Their short-lived but showy flowers are made up of very thin petals and may droop when exposed to snow.

Flowering Flax
Mali Bou (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Linum Grandiflorum

Otherwise, they can survive temperatures close to 30°F (-1°C) with little issue. They can even tolerate short periods of drought when established, making them versatile plants.

5. Gymnocalycium Cacti (Gymnocalycium spp.)

Gymnocalycium cacti, also known as chin cacti, are resilient and frost-tolerant cacti that can withstand temperatures around 23–32°F. Though they may not survive outdoors in extreme winters, they will grow easily indoors without a heater.

Average Size: 4–7 inches (10–17 cm)

Growing Difficulty: Easy

Long ago, we ran a month-long experiment for you to determine whether a cactus could survive the cold.

Read further in Can Cactus Survive Cold? (Cold Damage Signs With Photos) 

At the end of the test, we discovered that Gymnocalycium cacti were frost-tolerant and were hardy to 23–32°F (-5–0°C) without any issue.

KP Laer (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Gymnocalycium Horstii

Like most other cacti, this species can tolerate neglect and drought. They don’t always flower but when they do, they’re a wonderful sight to behold!

6. Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)

Hens and chicks are popular cold-resistant succulents that are hardy to winters around -15°F. Keep them dry when they enter dormancy to prevent rot.

Average Size: 6–12 inches (15–30 cm)

Growing Difficulty: Easy

Like many other succulents, hens and chicks generally grow best in warm weather.

Hens and Chicks
Pauleta Carlos (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Sempervivum Tectorum

However, they’ll quickly bounce back even after being exposed to -15°F or -26°C for several weeks, making them perfect for outdoor gardening!

YouTube Video – Sempervivum in Winter

The key to this is to keep them dry throughout the whole period, as they could easily be overwatered while they are dormant for the winter.

Learn more in How Often Do Hens and Chicks Need Water? Your Final Guide! 

7. Hosta (Hosta spp.)

Hosta is a herbaceous and cold-hardy perennial that is hardy in zones 3–8 and can tolerate -30°F. It is a low-maintenance plant that can be used in cold climates.

Average Size: 24–48 inches (60–120 cm)

Growing Difficulty: Easy

Hosta plants tend to bloom gentle white flowers in summer. So they’re frequently grown for their impressive foliage display.

Not only are they gorgeous, but they can also be grown as container plants or planted directly in the soil to add a dramatic flair to your garden.

ALAIN BIEVELEZ (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Hosta Plantaginea

Overall, the hosta is an easy-growing perennial that can be grown even at -30°F or -1°C.

8. Ornamental Kale (Brassica oleracea)

Ornamental kale is a colorful and cold-hardy plant that can resist winters as low as 5°F. The foliage is edible, however, it is typically only grown for decoration.

Average Size: 12 inches (30 cm)

Growing Difficulty: Moderate

You probably weren’t expecting to see the word “kale” on this list, yet here it is!

As the name suggests, this is a kale plant with ruffled and colorful foliage that is often grown for ornamental purposes.

Once they’re mature, they can even live in environments as cold as 5°F or -15°C.

The eye-catching colors of ornamental kale can only be seen under 50°F or 10°C.

If you’re curious if this plant is still edible, the answer is yes. Although the foliage is lightly bitter, it can still be used as a colorful garnish.

9. Peonies (Paeonia spp.)

Peonies are beautiful flowering plants that are hardy to zones 3–8. Their long-lived flowers can resist cold temperatures around -50°F.

Average Size: 24–36 inches (30–90 cm)

Growing Difficulty: Moderate

Very few plants can outperform frost-hardy peonies. These plants need at least 6 weeks of winter rest under 40°F (4°C) to produce their darling flowers.

According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, they’re even resistant to temperatures as low as -50°F or -45°C!

Marga Weed (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Paeonia Mascula

Their vibrant flowers come in multiple colors, so you can decide which bloom looks best in your garden.

10. Sedum (Sedum spp.)

Sedum, also known as stonecrop, are versatile succulents that can tolerate the cold and live at 40°F. These are easy-growing plants and do not need expert care.

Average Size: 12–24 inches (30–60 cm)

Growing Difficulty: Easy

What’s great about succulents like sedum is that they’re often low-maintenance and need little water to survive.

For example, the goldmoss stonecrop (Sedum acre) can be grown in zones 3–8. These low-growing succulents are frequently used as a groundcover alternative.

Simply provide them with well-draining and gritty soils and you can enjoy them even at 40°F or 4°C!

11. Snowdrops (Galanthus spp.)

The small flowers of snowdrops are cold-hardy and require temperatures below 20°F to fully grow and develop. Snowdrops are also deer-resistant.

Average Size: 3–8 inches (7–20 cm)

Growing Difficulty: Moderate

As you can imagine from their name, snowdrops are no stranger to the cold. They’re not the most dramatic flowers, but you’ll be thankful to see their blooms.

Snowdrops require at least 20°F or -6°C to germinate and grow, which makes them challenging to cultivate outside of winter.

Kampf Robert (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Galanthus Nivalis

They’re also rarely disturbed by deer, so you don’t have to worry about losing them to pesky deer populations!

Check out the 20 Plants That Repel Deer (With Photos!)

12. Viola (Viola spp.)

Violas are perennial flowers hardy to zones 4–9. Once established, these plants are resistant to 0°F and do not require much maintenance.

Average Size: 4–8 inches (10–20 cm)

Growing Difficulty: Easy

For bright and cheerful flowers from spring to fall, consider growing violas.

Although they do best in warm and mild climates, mature violas are known to survive frosts at zero degrees Fahrenheit (-17°C).

Because these flowers have no issue with frost and can easily be grown by seed, they make excellent flowers for novices and new gardeners.

Regardless of your expertise though, you have plenty of options to pick from, and violas are just one of the plants you can grow in cold environments!


Can plants survive frost?

Generally, this depends on the plants’ native climate. Some plants are used to and sometimes even require winter exposure to germinate, like snowdrops. Conversely, most houseplants can be found in tropical rainforests and do not normally experience chilling temperatures. Therefore, they cannot tolerate frost.

Which vegetables are cold-hardy?

Some cold-hardy vegetables include garlic, leeks, kale, cabbage, potatoes, turnips, broccoli, onions, and brussels sprouts. Many of these winter-resilient plants can survive low temperatures by laying dormant in the soil.

Summary of Frost-Resistant Plants

Contrary to popular belief, there are a variety of plants that can survive frost and cold winter weather. Such plants include agave, Christmas cacti, crocuses, flowering flax, gymnocalycium cacti, hen and chicks, hosta, ornamental kale, peonies, sedum, snowdrops, and viola.

As long as they are kept dry, many of these plants can survive frost and subzero temperatures and do not need much protection. Some plants, such as violas and ornamental kale, have a higher chance of surviving when they have established root systems.


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