Close-up of pansy flowers

Cool weather annuals

In Annuals, Blog, Edibles, Feature, Gardening, Spring by Megan Nichols

It’s finally starting to happen, spring is officially here and so are the pansies! These cool (and cold tolerant) blooms are perfect for that first spring planting. Options are limited this time of year and we must still be careful with the temps, so here’s what you need to know to get your spring color on.

Minnesota is limited to cold-tolerant and cool weather annuals in the early spring.

Cold tolerant annuals have the ability to withstand cooler temps in the spring and quite often withstand temperatures slightly below freezing temperatures in the spring and fall. The average last frost date in the Minnetonka area is around May 15, but it can be even later.

Cool weather annuals are also cold tolerant, however, they thrive only when the temperature is cool. Once it begins to heat up, their blooming slows down (think leggy, grumpy looking pansies in mid-July). Some cold tolerant annuals can handle the summer heat and go all the way through a chilly spring and warm summer and just keep going through a chilly fall, too.

Some annuals are even frost tolerant. Pansies and violas are a good example and are usually the first annuals to be planted. It’s important, though, that they can withstand cool temps and haven’t become soft and spoiled inside a warm greenhouse. Our grower makes sure these plants are hardened off by slowly acclimating them to the cooler outside air temperatures. They are grown in very cool hoop houses with the sides and front opened during the day.

We continue to harden off cool weather/cold tolerant annuals by pushing carts full of plants outside during the cooler days of March and April. As long as the temperature is 35 degrees or above, out they go! The plants should even be able to withstand a light frost by then.

Though they can withstand a frost they will still look grumpy. To avoid not having them look their best just be sure to bring them in when it’s going to be below 34 degrees.

Spring Planting

Cold tolerant annuals

  • Pansies
  • Violas
  • Snapdragons
  • Sweet Alyssum
  • Dusty Miller
  • Dianthus
  • Acorus Grass
  • Flowering Kale

Cold tolerant vegetables and herbs

  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Chives

Cool weather annuals

All of these plants tend to stop blooming when the air temps reach 80 degrees.

  • Nemesia
  • Osteospurmum
  • Calendula
  • Snap Dragons
  • Dianthus
  • Pansy
  • Viola

Petunias, Ivy, Acorus grass, Dusty miller, Kale, and the cold tolerant/cool weather herbs can handle both cool and warm weather, so they’ll grow well all season.

Spring is here! Let’s get growing!

Viola in container with herbs