As we turn the corner on winter, the urge to head over to our local nurseries to buy colorful spring flowers gets more real by the day. But, there’s nothing worse than dropping money on potted plants only to wake up one morning and find they’ve all wilted and died due to an overnight frost, which can occur even into late May in some areas.
You can keep an eye on frost in your area by plugging your zip code into the Farmer’s Almanac frost calculator, or even better, choose smartly when buying spring blooms, according to Vermont-based gardening blogger Charlie Nardozzi, author of The Complete Guide to No-Dig Gardening.
“The good news is there are many flowers that can survive a late season cold spell and last even through fall,” Nardozzi says. You just need to know which ones to shop for, and so see our suggestions ahead.
Meet the Expert
- Charlie Nardozzi is the founder of the blog Gardening with Charlie and author of The Complete Guide to No-Dig Gardening.
- Venelin Dimitrov is a horticulturist and a Senior Product Manager at Burpee, a plant and seed company since 1881.
These low growing, brightly colored yellow, blue, purple, red, and white perennials have heart-shaped, overlapping petals that can withstand frost and even snow. They thrive in partially shady locations in a well-drained, moist soil. “
If they happen to dieback during a really hot summer, they can reemerge in the fall,” Nardozzi notes. “They’re also self-sowing, which means they can drop seeds before they die, geminate, and reappear in the spring.”
Calibrachoa, a multicolored annual, can live from spring through fall and grows well in containers, either alone or combined with other flowers.
“They’ll need to be watered once the top inch of the soil dries out and don’t do well in extreme wind and hot sunlight until they become established,” Venelin Dimitrov, a horticulturist and a Senior Product Manager at Burpee, says.
Rosettes of ruffled green leaves produce spikes of brightly colored pink, yellow, and white perennial flowers in the spring.
“Primrose, which self-sow, can be an annual or perennial and thrive in a partial shade,” Nardozzi says. “Expect them to live from spring through fall if the flowers are in a well-drained, moist soil.”
These pretty stalks of brightly colored red, orange, white, purple, peach, and blue annual flowers prefer full sun and a fertile soil along with afternoon shade, especially during hot summer days when they may stop flowering.
“But, even if snapdragons dieback, they can bloom again in the fall,” Nardozzi encourages, and he suggests dwarf varieties for containers.
This perennial flower, also known as pinks, has grey, spiky foliage and stalks of white, pink, and red colored flowers spring through fall. “They’ll last all summer if you weed, water, and keep them in a sunny spot,” Nardozzi shares.
Coreopsis are both annual and perennial flowers, similar in look to daisies. Their petal colors include red, pink, white, and yellow—many with dark brown or maroon centers.
“Plant in a full sun location and they’ll last you from spring through summer,” Dimitrov notes.
This creeping, annual flower has small white, pink, blue, and rose-colored flowers and will thrive in full sun and a well-drained soil. They’ll last from spring through fall and can self-sow, even in a container.
“Cut back the foliage in summer if things begin to look ratty and the plant will regrow and your flowers will bloom again,” Nardozzi advises.
These pink, orange, red, yellow, and white annuals stay in bloom for months and will attract bees, butterflies, and birds to your garden. “Cosmos are pretty low maintenance, but require full sun and a slightly acidic soil to last through the fall,” notes Dimitrov.
Once established, cosmos won’t require water as they’re drought tolerant—although they will produce more and larger flowers with regular dampening.
These classic annuals have funnel shaped flowers and sprout in a variety of colors—including yellow, pink, white, red, purple, and burgundy—on a plant that sprawls. “Grow them in full to partial sun on well-drained, fertile soil and they’ll survive all summer,” Nardozzi shares.
Petunias do especially well in hanging baskets and window boxes. “At the end of July, cut them back four to six inches to spur growth and encourage new flowers and feed them with an all-purpose, slow-acting fertilizer,” Dimitrov adds.
These beautiful, silver-leaved annual flowers are typically grown for their foliage, drought tolerant, and thrive in partial to full sun. “If you don’t overwater, they should last all summer long,” Nardozzi says.
Pink, red, white, purple and orange geraniums have five-petal flowering blooms. “They can be either an annual or perennial, and if they’re in full sun and thoroughly watered, they can last through the fall,” Dimitrov says.
Violas, multi-colored flowers that range in color from violet, blue, yellow, white, and cream, can be annuals or perennials. “They require a mix of sun and shade along with regular watering and can survive from spring through fall or even winter,” Dimitrov says.