As the seasons change, we think about what’s next for the garden. I find myself at a loss in the winter months, trying to decide what to grow in the colder season. Living in Illinois, I’m primarily restricted to indoor gardening for any winter harvest, but many winter vegetables thrive when planted in autumn and grown up through the winter.
So, if you’re anything like me and just not sure what to plant for cold weather, consider the variety of vegetables below. You’ll find a wide range of fresh herbs and veggiesto grow in winter that might just surprise and thrill you.
Sometimes, asparagus takes a couple of years to emerge after planting. The plant can thrive through several winters, though, producing a fresh harvest, year after year. Ideally, asparagus should be planted in autumn for a springtime harvest.
Cabbage is an exceptionally hardy leafy greens plant, making a great veggie to plant in autumn. They thrive in frost and are ready to pick in early to mid-winter. So, plant your heart out and enjoy some marvelous fresh cabbage this winter!
Radishes are another one of those plants that do well in cooler weather. They adore lots of sunlight, yes, but they do well in temperatures as low as 50 degrees and are perfect for autumn plantings in warmer climates. They even flourish in frost spells.
Radishes also make great indoor garden plants, assuming you find planters deep enough. Tall grow bags are perfect for these. If you do plant indoors, be sure to place them in sunny windows for super fresh flavors and happy plants.
Broccoli is another plant that leans into cooler weather. The plants do well when planted in chilly spring or autumn weather and grow happily. They should d be sown 10 to 12 weeks before the first frost for best health and thriving results.
Robust lettuce varieties do well in winter garden settings. The seeds should be sown in the fall for a harvest about one to three months later. Just be sure that the types of lettuce you plant meet the definition of “hardy” and do well in your zone.
Garlic is another plant suited well to fall rooting. You should plant it roughly six weeks before the first deep freeze is anticipated. You’ll need that unfrozen ground to do it!
Basil is a popular herb. It comes in a wide variety of types, from Italian to Thai and everything in between, it seems. The herb is rich in flavor and nutrients, and, thankfully, it’s an herb that does well when planted in autumn. They also make great indoor plants.
Another strong herb that we specifically think of as a winter plant is mint. It should be grown in its pot so that it has plenty of room to grow. It’s a bit like a weed – it’s a hardy vegetable and quickly overgrows the ground. The resilient herb will grow all winter long, too.
Chives, a perennial herb, tolerate the cold pretty well and come back year after year in your herb garden. They do best as an indoor plant in the winter/early spring in full sun. Ideally, grow them in pots, so you can easily move outdoors in fair weather.
Often thought of as “Italian” thanks to its association with pizza, oregano is another hardy herb that thrives in cooler weather. Grow the plants indoors in winter and early spring/late autumn to keep the plants in peak condition (and available for trimming!). Just be sure to avoid overwatering!
There are two main types of parsley, flat-leaf and curly. The flat-leaf has a robust flavor, but they’re both great as a garnish. And they both do well in cooler temperatures. Plant them in separate pots and grow indoors for best results all winter long.
Rosemary is my favorite herb. The beautiful, woody stem and thick leaves make the plants fairly hardy all year. The herb also happens to pair perfectly with root veggies, another winter thriver.
The Best Plants for Winter Growing
If you live in a milder climate, any of these plants will do well outdoors. If you live in colder climates like my Chicagoland home, you’ll want to plant them in grow bags and planters and keep them indoors. They’ll thrive all winter long, proving you with healthy food choices and a lovely wintertime activity. Just be sure to care for the plants according to the best instructions for each, avoiding overwatering, keeping them well-fed, and well-lit with some grow lights.