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20 Best Zone 4 Perennials That You Need To Know

Annual plants bloom just for a season and die in winter, but perennials come back to fight the winter again and again.

This makes the cold tolerant perennials different from annuals, and if you find them blooming in cold regions, you are lucky to meet these hardy plants.

Generally, zone 4 perennials are synonymously cold-tolerant because of their distribution in the coldest northernmost regions of the United States. These perennials comprise herbs or shrubs such as coneflowers, alliums, asters, stonecrops, yarrow, hydrangea, etc.

Image represents collage of pictures of flowers growing in zone 4
The zone 4 perennials are hardy plants to resist winter.

These perennials can adapt to the cold and harsh regions because of the internal freezing resistance mechanism that makes them withstand long enduring winters of the north.

This mechanism includes the perennial cells being impervious to freezing by protective compounds.

If you want to know more about these hardy perennials, grab your sweaters, and let’s plunge into the cool life of these plants.  

What is Zone 4?

Zone 4 falls in the colder uppermost regions of the United States, covering 22 states. 

These cold regions occupy the northernmost parts encompassing places from northern Idaho to northern New York and New England.

It also covers some southern parts of the Canadian border and Colorado Rockies.

Zone 4 is among the coldest regions in the northern hemisphere but is 10 degrees warmer than zone 3, 2, and 1.

Image represents different map of USDA hardiness zones
Zone 4 region covers the upper northern regions of the USA.

Although life here is full of hardships, the region teems with cold-tolerant plant life.

You can aptly call these plants zone 4 perennials, which include flowering shrubs and herbs that can survive winter temperatures between -30 to -20°F. 

Some of these perennials include Yarrows, Rockcress, Asters, Bellflower, Goat’s beard, Bee balm, Coneflowers, Peonies, etc. that love the cool climate of high altitudes.

These perennials not only survive but enjoy lengthy blooming seasons in such low temperatures. In fact, Astilbe is the longest flowering perennial present in zone 4.

The reason for their survival is because of their root system that can grow new shoots when the first sunlight of spring falls on them.

20 Best Zone 4 Perennials

Select such perennials for planting in zone 4 regions that can easily produce blooms throughout their lifetime despite the changing temperatures.

Here I have curated a list of 20 best perennials that shall be suitable for planting within zone 4 regions.

1. Grannybells or Ladybells

You can categorize Ladybells as zone 4 perennial shade-loving species. 

These winter hardy perennials originally belong to Europe and North America with around 62 species.

Image represents bell-shaped flowers and foliage of Ladybells
Bell-shaped (campanulate) flowers of Ladybells or Grannybells.

Although winter tolerating, they are also present to bloom under the full sun from late summer to autumn and prefer moist, well-draining soil.

The plants grow to a mature height of 45 to 60 cm and bear blue to purple colored campanulate (bell-shaped) flowers with light-green leaves.

2. Hummingbird Mint

Hummingbird Mint, as its name suggests, can attract hummingbirds if you place them in your garden.

There are 28 species of Hummingbird Mint throughout the world, and almost all of them originate from North America and Eastern Asia.

The plant bears tall spiked inflorescence harboring creamy, pale orange, bright blue, or light rose-pink flowers during early summers.

Image represents flowers of Hummingbird Mint
Hummingbird Mint flaunting its pink flowers.

They prefer well-draining silty soil with less organic matter.

One of the notable highlights of this plant is its fragrant, green, and marginally serrated leaves.

Moreover, the plant can grow up to 4 feet tall, and due to the fragrant leaves, it can be classified as zone 4 perennials deer resistant.

3. Coneflowers

Coneflowers are a perfect choice if you are fond of tall-garden plants.

These hardy plants are found between zones three to nine; hence they can survive in a wide range of climates.

Originally Coneflowers are native to North America with 17 species.

Image represents Coneflowers growing in clumps
Coneflowers, with their pink-colored arching petals, are one of the zone 4 perennials.

Nevertheless, they require full sunlight to grow in well-draining soil.

If planted in the right place with the right conditions, coneflowers can grow up to a height of five feet, showcasing beautiful heart-shaped leaves.

At maturity, the plant produces arching pink-rayed flowers with copper-orange central cones.

4. Aster

If you wish to invite pollinators to your plant garden, Asters are the ideal choice to plant.

Asters are native to Eastern U.S and have a whopping 508 species.

Asters are also hardy plants that you can find growing from zones three to eight and do best if you give them moist soil.

Image represents honeybee sitting on an Aster flower
Planting Aster flower in the garden attracts pollinators.

With the right care, you can make Asters grow up to eight feet in height, and if it is happy, it shall bless you with flowers having light-purplish to pink rayed petals.

The ovate and green leaves compensate brilliantly with the flower color; hence most Asters are a choice plant to prepare cut flowers.  

5. Astilbe

Shade-loving Astilbe is the longest blooming perennial found in zone 4. A total of 36 Astilbe species are native to the mountains of China and Japan.

Due to its lengthy blooming period, the plant lives long enough to attain a height of two to three feet.

Image represents Astilbe flowers
Feathery flowers of Astilbe plant.

If you want to plant it, better use moist or wet soil as it is intolerable to dryness and high heat.

They grow in masses from late spring to mid-summer and retain dark-green leaves with clusters of feathery flowers at the top that are pink, white, or cream in color.

6. Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart is a dream plant for many growers due to its unique flower shape.

The plant attracts with its heart-shaped blooms that are pink or rose-colored and droop down from the branches like little pendants.

To add more, flowers with compound and lobed leaves, make Bleeding Heart perfect for placing in walkways.

Image represents the flowers of Bleeding Heart plant
Unusual heart-shaped flowers of Bleeding Heart.

But, like its flowers, the soil conditions are also unusual requiring moist acidic soil rich in organic matter.

Generally, Bleeding Hearts are native to Northern China and Japan, with a total of 19 accepted species.

These plants are summer bloomers but like full to partial shade, growing to a foot tall at maturity.

However, they can be mildly poisonous to humans and pets. 

7. Balloon Flowers

One of the interesting features of Balloon Flowers, other than being winter hardy species, is their puffy appearing buds before opening.

However, this perennial is slow to break the dormancy and will only pop open its buds in late spring.

Image represents balloon flowers with balloon-like buds
Balloon flowers produce balloon-like puffy buds before opening.

But, once the flowers open, the plants showcase beautiful blue to purple colored petals that are bell-shaped.

Balloon Flowers consist of only two species originating from Eastern Asia. The plant requires good draining acidic, loamy soil to grow a full height of 1.5 to 2 feet.

Moreover, the leaves consist of doubly serrated margins that compensate for the plant’s clumping growth habit.

8. Black-Eyed Susan

If there is a hardy winter perennial that perfectly lives up to its name, then it’s Black-Eyed Susan.

Yellow-colored petals of the plant surround a black cone in the middle, well-suited for use in cut flowers.

Image represents yellow flowers of Black-Eyed Susan
Black-Eyed Susan bears with arched yellow petals with a central black cone are among the popular zone 4 perennials.

Black-Eyed Susan is native to the Central USA, with a total of 74 species under its name.

Under full sun, they grow rapidly to a height of three feet.

The green leaves also form a rosette below the stem that complements winter ground cover if you decide to grow it in groups.  

9. Creeping Phlox

Creeping Phlox is the one you need that can act as ground covers for winter. These zone 4 perennials are native to Eastern North America, comprising 110 species.

The plants bloom with burgundy to purplish-colored flowers during spring and summer.

Image represents flowers of Creeping Phlox plant
Creeping Phlox are handy zone 4 perennials used as winter ground covers.

However, the creeping habit and gray-silver green leaves make the plant a better choice as ground cushion cover during winter.

The plant prefers slightly alkaline to neutral sandy soil with high organic matter.

Although It is a creeper, it can easily grow to a height of six inches if you place it on sunny sites.

10. Yarrow

Most growers prefer Yarrow among winter perennials because of its non-finicky soil requirement.

It is well-suited for poor soils as long as you provide ample drainage.

Yarrow comprises 368 species with their origins tracing from coastal to Alpine zones of North America, Europe, and Asia.

Image represents the flowers of Yarrow plant held in hand
Yarrow bears white flowers.

Moreover, white flowers and fern-like foliage make it a choice plant for hanging baskets, walkways, and patios.

Besides, the plant tolerates full sun to partial shade and grows two to four feet tall.

11. Peonies

Peonies are the first thing that you shall notice every summer because these are among the fastest-growing zone 4 perennials.

With 75 species under its account, Peonies are native to Asia, Europe, and Western North America.

These bushy plants produce lush cabbage-like fragrant white to pink flowers.

Image represents the Peony flowers
White-pink flowers of Peony.

Peonies are easy to care for and require full sun with compost soil to thrive. They also leverage compound, tripinnate, biternate, and glossy green leaves. 

Although most of the zone 4 perennials are herbs, Peonies form shrubby growths that can easily grow up to five feet in stature.

12. Hostas

Hostas may be among the confusing zone 4 perennials for any grower because of the varieties.

These plants are kept for their variegated foliage rather than flowers.

Image represents Hosta showcasing its variegated leaves and lily-like flowers
Hostas are grown for their variegated leaves but produce lily-like flowers during blooming seasons.

But, wait for the spring to arrive as this is the flowering time for Hostas, during which their tall stem produces white to purple lily-like fragrant flowers.

These zone 4 fragrant perennials comprise 43 species originating from China, Japan, and Korea.

Besides, Hostas prefer partial to fully-shade conditions and soil high in organic matter with good drainage.

If given all the conditions, Hostas are capable of growing about 1.5 to 2.5 feet tall.

13. Bee Balm

Generally, Bee Balms are kept by the winter growers to attract pollinators owing to their pink to red colored flowers, which bloom under the full sun of mid-summer.

These perennial plants can grow up to 2 feet in height, but some can be staggering four feet in height, depending on the amount of light they receive.

Image represents flowers of Bee Balm
Red-pink flowers of Bee Balms are wonderful for placing in gardens with aromatic leaves used for repelling rabbits.

There are 33 species of Bee Balms that share a common native origin from the Eastern United States and Southeastern Canada.

Bee Balms require moist but well-draining soil to grow.

With that said, the plant’s aromatic leaves are repellants for herbivores like rabbits.

Leaves of Bee Balms release a chemical when sunlight falls on them. You can plant Bee Balms around the vegetables in your garden that helps to repel the rabbits.

Hence, the plant can also be classified as zone 4 perennials rabbit resistant.

14. Daylily

The Daylily is another cold tolerant zone 4 perennial that blooms all summer. It represents native to Asia with a total of 41 species.

The plant displays yellow, white, orange, or golden-colored blooms under full sun to partial shade.

Image represents the flowers and rosette leaves of Daylilies
Daylilies are known for their various bloom colors and rosette habit of leaves.

However, you need to plant it in rich, organic, and well-draining soil to achieve maximum growth.

Daylilies grow to a height of one to three feet, supported by grass-like rosette leaves at the base of the flowering stem.

15. Iris

Iris is among the zone 4 perennials originating from Central Asia and the Mediterranean regions comprising 533 species.

Having Iris in the garden bestows you with two advantages; healthy leaves and flowers.

If the plant does not produce blossoms, it can set its contrast with spiky, green, linear, and variegated foliage in the garden.

Image represents the different flower colors and spiked leaves of Iris
Irises are known for their colorful flowers and spiked green leaves.

If you are lucky enough, you can witness the plant atop attractive flowers with variable colors of blue, purple, and lavender in spring and summer.

Furthermore, Iris needs full-sun and marshy or standing conditions of water in the soil most of the time.

If all the conditions are met, Irises can grow anywhere between 0.5 to 3 feet in height.

16. Lavender

Lavenders are the sweetest-smelling winter plants that you can have in your garden.

With a total of 65 species, Lavenders originate from the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Asia.

The plant can increase the aesthetic décor of your garden through its blue or purplish aromatic flowers that are totally a bee magnet.

Image represents bee sipping nectar from Lavender flower
Lavender flowers are the zone 4 perennials that release a sweet aroma that attracts bees.

Under full sun to partial shade compensated by loamy-sandy alkaline to neutral soil, Lavenders can attain a height of one to three feet.

But, you have to wait till summer if you want to see the plant blooming because the plant desert flowering in winter.

The flowers and the grayish-silver green-colored leaves are also equally fragrant, another reason to please your nose.   

17. Mallows

A good thing about Mallows is that they are fast growers and self-caring. They comprise 134 species originating from Southern European Asia.

Mallows are prolific bloomers that produce pink, white, or blue colored flowers from early summer to fall.

Image represents the flowers and leaves of Mallow
Unique leaves and purplish-colored flowers of Mallow suit perfectly for the garden.

To make a Mallow bloom, you need to plant it in a warm spot with sandy and dry soil.

With optimal growth conditions, the Mallows can grow to be 0.5 to 2 feet in height and develop attractive circular to kidney-shaped leaves having long petioles.

18. Rock Cress

Rock Cress is attractive rock-loving zone 4 perennial that prefers alkaline, well-drained soil and open meadows receiving full sunlight.

While its flowers are white and carry a sweet scent, rose to pink colored flowers are also present in some other varieties.

Image represents the rocky growth habit of Rockcress plant
Rockcress grows in areas with rocky substrate and is well-suited for placing in rock gardens.

They produce flowers during spring and summer that spread over the rocks, so they are well-suited for planting in rock gardens.

Leaves bear the characteristic of being hairy with dentate margins that look attractive and are also edible.

With that said, this versatile plant grows no more than a foot, making them suitable for use as charming border plants in gardens.

19. Stonecrops

As the name suggests, Stonecrops love growing around rocks and are perfect for rock gardens.

Stonecrop flowers come in a wide variety of colors from pink and purple to lavender, are showy, and attract pollinators such as butterflies.

The plant is native to Europe, Asia, North Africa, Mexico, and North America and spreads in a total of 219 species.

Image represents Stonecrop plant
Stonecrops have fleshy leaves that make them drought tolerant.

Although Stonecrops are zone 4 perennials, they are known for heat and drought tolerance, owing largely due to fleshy and waxy leaves.

If you are willing to grow Stonecrops, you better need to plant them under full sun with dry clay soil and incorporate drainage properties.

Under good care, the plant can attain a height between 1.3 to 1.5 feet with good care.

20. Speedwells

Whether it is Blue Woolly or Royal Candles, both types of Speedwells well-suit themselves for the cold environment of zone 4.

Normally, Speedwells are spring and summer bloomers displaying variable flower colors ranging from lavender to purple.

They comprise a staggering 703 species, with the plants originating from Asia.

Image represents the spiked flowers of Speedwell
Speedwells are less demanding for soil requirements making them best for planting in poor soil.

These plants require full to partial sun and easily grow anywhere between 0.5 to 1.5 feet high.

A good thing about Speedwells is that they are less demanding about the soil.

You need only regular watering and rocky soil to establish them, but you can mix draining components occasionally.

Their spiked flowers are the main attractive features, and their lanceolate and serrated leaves give your garden a decorative look when even not with a bunch of flowers. 

Conclusion

This list is just scratching the surface of what you can decide to plant, and there are many zone 4 perennials combinations to choose from.

However, you should carefully consider lighting and soil requirements as these conditions can really make a difference for these hardy plants.

If everything is right, then you can create a luxuriant zone 4 perennials garden in no time.

If you wish to add other houseplant varieties, you can read about Rare Pothos, Croton, Hoya, and Bromeliad varieties

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