​Hardy plants: what are they?

If you want beautiful plants in your garden that you can enjoy every spring, choose perennials. These plants are hardy (will survive the winter) so they will emerge again year after year; some even remain green during the winter. There are plenty of varieties to choose from. But before you go looking for the perennial that's right for you, it would be a good idea to know exactly what hardiness is and what factors you should take into account.

( Helleborus hybr. 'Yellow Speckled' (image curtsy of iVerde )

What are hardy plants?

Hardy plants are ones that will survive the winter without being damaged. These plants produce new stems, leaves, flowers and seeds so that they emerge larger and stronger the next spring. For you, this means enjoying a dazzling garden for a long time to come! Hardy perennials can be categorised into deciduous and evergreen varieties.


Evergreen perennials retain their leaves so they remain green during the winter. They will thus add that little bit of colour and charm to an otherwise bare winter garden. Examples of attractive hardy perennials that retain their leaves are Christmas Rose (Helleborus), Bergenia, Candytuft (Iberis), Moss Phlox (P. subulata) and Coral Bells (Heuchera).


The parts of deciduous plants seen above the ground die back in the autumn while the parts under the soil surface become dormant. Here, they are protected from the cold and will often survive even the most severe winter weather. Examples of beautiful deciduous hardy perennials are Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Plantain Lily (Hosta) and Stonecrop (Sedum). To provide these deciduous perennials with extra winter protection, leave them covered with fallen leaves. With this nice little blanket, they will sleep peacefully through the winter and emerge next spring as if nothing had happened.

Good to know

Hardy plants kept in pots and containers will be more susceptible to frost damage. To help prevent this, give these plants some protection from the cold.

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