10 Cool-Season Flowers That Love Mild Winters
Although summers are hot in the low desert, our winters are mild. Several beautiful flowers grow well during the mild winter and bloom through early spring. In this post, I share my 10 favorite cool-season flowers that love mild winters. Keep reading to the end for my honorable-mention choices for flowers that grow well during mild winters.
Remember, when gardening in hot climates like the low desert of Arizona, timing is critical. Learning the best times to plant will help you be successful. This guide for cool-season flowers that love mild winters will help you know when to plant, and whether to plant seeds or transplants.
A few things to keep in mind:
When you plant at the correct time, seeds will sprout and transplants will become established in the optimal conditions for each plant.
The planting dates listed are for the low desert of Arizona (zone 9b). If you live in a different area, you may need to adjust your dates.
And finally, don’t be afraid to start flowers from seed. Transplants aren’t always available at the best time to plant. However, use good judgment when starting from seed. If it is at the end of the planting window for that particular plant, it might be best to plant a transplant rather than start from seed.
10 Cool-Season Flowers That Love Mild Winters #1: Ranunculus
Ranunculus is simple to grow and their blooms are unbelievable. This stunning flower is easily my favorite cool-season flower for mild winters.
How to plant ranunculus
- Ranunculus is grown from corms. Order corms early to have them in time for fall planting.
- Ranunculus grows best in rich, healthy, well-draining soil with plenty of sunlight.
- Plant corms 2-3 inches deep and about 6 inches apart.
When to plant ranunculus
- In zones 7 and warmer, there are two planting windows — late fall and again in late winter or early spring. For zones cooler than zone 7, plant in the spring after danger of frost is passed.
- In the low desert of Arizona, plant ranunculus corms from October – November and again from February – March.
- Blooms from February through early May.
Tips for growing ranunculus
- Look for large corms, they will have larger blooms.
- Soak corms before planting.
- Corms may be dug up at the end of the season.
Good to know when growing ranunculus
- All parts of ranunculus are poisonous when ingested.
- Deadheading plants encourages more blooms.
- Hot temperatures cause blooms to stop.
10 Flowers that Love Mild Winters #2: Lobelia
I’m a sucker for bright blue lobelia flowers. I love putting them along the edge of beds or containers. They trail over and add a bright pop of color.
How to plant lobelia
When to plant lobelia
- Plant lobelia from late September – December in the low desert. Do not plant if temperatures are still hot.
- Blooms from March through early June.
Tips for growing lobelia
- Prefers part sun.
- Needs regular water.
- Wait until hot temperatures subside to plant transplants.
Good to know when growing lobelia
Cool-Season Flowers That Love Mild Winters #3: Sweet Peas
How to plant sweet peas
When to plant sweet peas
Tips for growing sweet peas
- Put trellises in place before you plant so as not to disturb the roots.
- Once blooms begin, harvest at least every other day to encourage blooming.
Good to know when growing sweet peas
How to plant delphinium (larkspur)
When to plant delphinium (larkspur)
- In mild winter areas (zone 8-10) like the low desert of Arizona, plant in the fall from late September through November.
- Blooms from March through May.
Tips for growing delphinium (larkspur)
- Seeds may be difficult to germinate. Freeze seeds for a week or so before planting to encourage germination.
- Harvest larkspur when about 1/3 of the blooms are open for the longest vase life.
Good to know when growing delphinium (larkspur)
- Wildflower; reseeds easily.
- Extremely cold-tolerant.
- Read this article for more information about how to grow wildflowers.
Cool-Season Flowers That Love Mild Winters #5: Foxglove
How to plant foxglove
- Can be difficult to start from seed – plant transplants for best results.
- Prefers part sun; needs regular water.
When to plant foxglove
- Plant from September through October.
- Blooms from March through May.
Tips for growing foxglove
- Choose an area with afternoon shade.
Good to know when growing foxglove
- Can be difficult to grow.
- All parts of the plant are poisonous; dispose of in trash not compost.
- Good cut flower; harvest when just a few bottom blossoms are open.
- Attracts hummingbirds.
10 Flowers that Love Mild Winters #6: Poppies
How to plant poppies
When to plant poppies
Tips for growing poppies
- Thin seedlings to 6” to 9” apart (depending on the variety) to maximize air circulation and reduce powdery mildew.
- The larger-stemmed varieties of poppies make a beautiful cut flower. Cut stems nearly down to the ground just as blooms begins to crack open for cut flowers.
Good to know when growing poppies
- Poppies reseed easily year after year.
- Save seeds at the end of the season from your favorite blooms.
Cool-Season Flowers That Love Mild Winters #7: Nasturtium
How to plant nasturtiums
- Nasturtium grows best from seed. Click here for nasturtium seeds.
- Plant seeds ½ to 1 inch deep and 5-6 inches apart.
When to plant nasturtiums
- Plant nasturtium seeds from October through January.
- Nasturtium blooms from February through May.
Tips for growing nasturtiums
- Nasturtiums prefer cooler weather, so in warm climates grow plants in the shade to prolong their growing season.
- If you want an abundance of flowers, do not fertilize nasturtiums. Nutrient-rich soil grows plenty of green leaves, but not as many blooms.
Good to know when growing nasturtiums
- The flowers, leaves, and stems of nasturtiums are all edible.
- Each flower sets several seeds, and nasturtiums will self-seed easily year after year.
Cool-Season Flowers That Love Mild Winters #8: Calendula
How to plant calendula
When to plant calendula
Tips for growing calendula
- Succession plant calendula seeds every 2 or 3 weeks for a continual harvest.
- Calendula needs regular water; do not let the plant dry out.
- Keep flowers cut back to encourage more blooms.
Good to know when growing calendula
- Harvest calendula blooms when petals begin to open.
- Calendula petals are edible.
- The entire calendula flower is used in healing skin ointments, salves, oils, and teas.
10 Flowers that Love Mild Winters #9: Snapdragon
How to plant snapdragons
When to plant snapdragons
- Plant transplants outside from October through early February in the low desert of Arizona.
- Blooms from November through early May.
Tips for growing snapdragons
- Support large varieties with netting for straight stems.
- Cut central stem back to ground level to encourage branching.
- Keep deadheaded to encourage blooms.
Good to know when growing snapdragons
- Harvest when the first few blossoms on the bottom of the stem have opened for cut flowers.
Cool-Season Flowers That Love Mild Winters #10: Bachelor Buttons (cornflower)
How to plant bachelor buttons (cornflower)
When to plant bachelor buttons (cornflower)
Tips for growing bachelor buttons (cornflower)
- Good cut flower. Cut stems when the flower is just beginning to crack open.
- Cut central stem at ground level to encourage strong, tall stems.
- Keep deadheaded to encourage blooms.
Good to know when growing bachelor buttons (cornflower)
- Many colors available.
- Easy to grow.
Looking for more ideas? Other cool-season flowers that love mild winters include:
Did I forget any of your favorite cool-season flowers that love mild winters? Let me know in the comments what your favorites are.