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 ten 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.
Low desert includes elevations below 3500 ft in the Southwest, such as the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas.
Remember, timing is critical when gardening in hot climates like the low desert of Arizona. 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.
Here are 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). You may need to adjust your dates if you live in a different area.
- 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
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 the danger of frost is passed.
When to plant ranunculus in Arizona: October – November & February – March
- Look for large corms; they will have larger blooms.
- Soak corms before planting.
- Corms may be dug up at the end of the season.
- Looking for more information? Read this blog post or watch this video.
10 Flowers that Love Mild Winters #2: Lobelia
Start seeds indoors: July – October
Plant transplants outside: September 15 – December. Do not plant if temperatures remain hot.
Blooms from March through early June
- Plant at the edge of containers.
- Beautiful when paired with blue salvia.
- Abundant blooms.
- Tolerates neglect.
- Are you looking for more information about how to grow lobelia? Read this blog post.
Flowers to Plant Outside & Seeds to Start Indoors Each Month in the Low Desert of Arizona.
• PLANTING GUIDE: Each month lists annual flowers and bulbs to plant outside & seeds to start indoors.
• BLOOMING GUIDE: Photos show what may be in bloom that month.
Cool-Season Flowers That Love Mild Winters #3: Sweet Peas
Blooms from February through early May.
- Sweet peas grow best from seeds. Click here for sweet pea seeds.
- Plant in areas with full sun to shade.
- Put trellises in place before you plant so as not to disturb the roots.
- Looking for more information about how to grow sweet peas? Read this blog post.
Cool-Season Flowers That Love Mild Winters #4: 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.
- Seeds may be difficult to germinate. Freeze seeds for a week or so before planting to encourage germination.
Cool-Season Flowers That Love Mild Winters #5: Foxglove
Start seeds indoors: July – August
Plant transplants outside: September – October
Blooms from: March through May.
- Can be difficult to start from seed; plant transplants for best results. Prefers part sun; needs regular water.
- Good cut flower; harvest when just a few bottom blossoms are open.
- Attracts hummingbirds.
- Read this article for more information about how to grow foxglove.
10 Flowers that Love Mild Winters #6: Poppies
Plant seeds from October through December.
Blooms from March through early May.
- Poppies grow best from seed. Click here for poppy seeds.
- Direct sow poppy seeds in the garden. Push poppy seeds firmly into the soil.
- Poppies grow well in containers.
- Looking for more information about how to grow poppies? Read this blog post.
Cool-Season Flowers That Love Mild Winters #7: Nasturtium
Plant nasturtium seeds from October through January.
Nasturtium blooms from February through May.
- Nasturtium grows best from seed. Click here for nasturtium seeds.
- Plant seeds ½ to 1 inch deep and 5-6 inches apart.
- If you want an abundance of flowers, do not fertilize nasturtiums. Nutrient-rich soil grows plenty of green leaves but not as many blooms.
- Looking for more information about how to grow nasturtiums? Read this blog post.
Cool-Season Flowers That Love Mild Winters #8: Calendula
Start calendula seeds indoors: August – September
Plant seeds or transplants outside: September 15 – November
- 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.
- Looking for more information about how to grow calendula? Read this blog post.
10 Flowers that Love Mild Winters #9: Snapdragons
Start seeds indoors: June – December
Plant transplants outside: September 15 – February 15
Blooms from November through early May.
- Snapdragons are readily available as transplants.
- You can also start seeds indoors. Do not cover the seed with soil. It needs light to sprout. Click here for snapdragon seeds.
- Support large varieties with netting for straight stems.
- Cut the central stem back to ground level to encourage branching.
- Keep deadheaded to encourage blooms.
Cool-Season Flowers That Love Mild Winters #10: Bachelor Buttons (Cornflower)
Plant seeds in your garden from late September through November.
Blooms from February through June.
- Bachelor buttons grow best from seed. Click here for bachelor button seeds.
- Plant bachelor button seeds directly in the garden. Cover lightly with soil.
- Cornflowers are edible. Learn more about other edible flowers in this post.
- Looking for more information about how to grow bachelor buttons? Read this blog post.
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.
Learn more about ten cool-season flowers that grow easily from seed in this blog post.
Arizona Annual Flowers Planting guide helps you learn when to plant flowers in Arizona and whether to plant seeds or transplants.
10 Flowers that Love Hot Summers shares my favorite heat-loving plants that grow well in hot Arizona summers.