Winter Hardy Plants for the North

Lynn Coulter
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Northern winters can be harsh, but you can still enjoy your garden even when the temperatures drop. Sharon, our Muddy Boots associate in Maine, grows winter hardy plants that are rated for USDA hardiness zone 4. “We are generally considered a zone 5 area, but this covers those ‘rough’ years,” when the weather is severe, she says. Her picks for winter hardy plants include:

  • Scotch Broom – “Very pretty in the winter with snow or ice on it,” Sharon says.
  • Rugosa roses – Leave some flowers to dry on these plants, and they’ll form attractive rose hips for the winter.
  • Weeping mulberry – Although this tree loses its leaves, its arching branches can be pruned into an attractive umbrella shape for winter interest.
  • Juniper – Available in various sizes, evergreen junipers can be used as foundation plants, ground covers, or privacy screens.
  • Yellow bark dogwood – The yellow twigs and stems of this deciduous plant stand out in bare landscapes.

Evergreen hollies are another option for USDA hardiness zones 3 to 10. Choose hollies with variegated or glossy green leaves; some have spines, while others do not. Many produce berries that attract hungry birds to your yard.

Snowdrops, bulbs that grow in zones 2 to 7, often bloom through a crust of snow. Tuck them under shrubs, around trees, or into borders. Dinah, our Muddy Boots gardener in Connecticut, also suggests planting crocus, tulips, iris, and daffodils for early blooms. “They’re especially beautiful when they come up through the snow.”

Our Muddy Boots associate in New York, Crystal, adds, “We are  pretty cold here, so the plants have to be tough to survive the weather without preparatory steps (i.e. covering with burlap). Depending on wind conditions and the natural shelter in your yard, you may still need to cover or wrap some of the plants below.”

  • Witch hazel
  • American Bittersweet
  • Blueberry (low bush variety)
  • Mountain Laurel
  •  Chokeberry
  • Winterberry
  •  Blue spruce

 

Image: Shutterstock/Pavel Vakhrushev

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