The 11 best plants for heat and cold for a beautiful backyard all year round

Experts pick the best 11 hardy plants that can withstand heat and cold and that will add texture, color and vibrancy all through the year

plants that can withstand heat and cold; Texas redbuds by Eden Garden Design
(Image credit: Eden Garden Design)

Choosing plants that can withstand heat and cold is an important first step for maintaining a year-round thriving garden in locations that experience weather extremes - intensely hot summers and freezing winters.

The western half of the US in particular sees these extremes, and can often benefit from choosing the right combination of drought-tolerant plants for dry gardens (also known as 'xeriscaping'), that can also shrug off the cold when it hits.

Choosing heat-tolerant plants that can also withstand the cold means you can enjoy seasonal interest and don't have to worry about your garden looking lackluster.

Plants that can withstand heat and cold for continuous seasonal interest

Whether you're looking to boost your wildlife,  have some foolproof containers (and these suggestions are essentially foolproof), elevate your garden borders or upgrade your flowerbeds, there's something to suit every need in the roundup chosen by experts below.

1. Coneflowers (echinacea)

Herbaceous border with echinacea flowers, Rudbeckia yellow flowers, Verbena bonariensis, Purple Vervain

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'Coneflowers are incredibly winter-hardy and happily tolerate hot and dry summer conditions,' says Andrew Gaumond, editorial director and horticulturist at Petal Republic. 

'They bloom in an array of bright color tones adding a lovely textural element to flower beds, borders, and container gardens

'They do best in well-draining soil bases in open, sunny locations. They'll appreciate a weekly watering during the peak of summer.'

Bonus? Honey and native bees love the sweet nectar and pollen produced by coneflowers. 

2. Daylilies

orange daylilies in the flower bed of an american home next to palm trees

(Image credit: Alamy)

Certain types of daylilies  - the orange flower, seen in the bed above - will happily tolerate sub-zero temperatures and are generally drought-tolerant throughout the summer. 

'These heat-tolerant perennials showcase an array of colors and look beautiful in garden beds and borders, says Andrew Gaumonnd.

'Aim to plant in a location in the garden that receives at least six hours of full sun each day in rich and fertile soil.'

3. Catmint

bush of catymint growing in a backyard next to a gravel path

(Image credit: Alamy)

Catmint will happily shrug off a cold, hard frost in addition to being drought and heat tolerant. 

Andrew says: 'This easy-to-grow perennial is revered for its attractive blooms and aromatic fragrance. They'll thrive in various soil bases and benefit from open locations with plenty of sunlight throughout the day. These flowers will flourish throughout summer into fall each year, attracting a host of beneficial pollinators. They're one of the best flowers for bees, and also one of the best flowers for hummingbirds, moths, bees, and butterflies.'

4. Desert marigold

Desert marigold plant flowering in the sunshine

(Image credit: Fast Growing Trees)

A pretty wildflower with perky pops of yellow, the Desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), is a native wildflower that's extremely heat-tolerant and drought-resistant. It's one of the best flower for dry gardens - the clue is in the name as to why.

Amy Hovis,  Principal/Owner of Eden Garden Design and Owner of Barton Springs Nursery, says: 'It produces bright yellow flowers throughout the summer and can handle occasional cold snaps.'

5. Mexican bush sage

mexican bush sage next to a stone garden path

(Image credit: Alamy)

A hardy but delicate favorite, Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) is a tough salvia variety known for its velvety purple flowers that bloom in the fall.

'It can tolerate heat and cold, and it attracts beneficial garden insects and pollinators to the garden,' says Amy Hovis.

It thrives in well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade and works well on a patio or container gardens, gravel gardens, and flowerbeds and borders.

It's also good for wildlife gardens as it attracts bees.

6. Autumn sage

Autumnsage plant by Barton Springs Nursery

(Image credit: Barton Springs Nursery)

Autumn sage (Salvia greggii) is a great choice to inject pops of color into your garden.

'This perennial plant can handle both the intense heat of summer and occasional cold spells,' says Amy Hovis.

'It produces vibrant flowers in various colors and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.'

7. Mexican Honeysuckle

mexican honeysuckle in bloom next to a garden path

(Image credit: Alamy)

Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) is a perennial shrub that features orange tubular flowers and attracts hummingbirds. 

'It can tolerate both heat and cold and is a good option for low maintenance gardens,' says Amy Hovis.

Mexican honeysuckle is also deer-resistant, and blooms for most of the year.

8. Foxtail fern

foxtail fern plant by Eden Garden Design

(Image credit: Eden Garden Design/Greg Thomas)

Working with a patio or urban space? The foxtail fern is ideal for container gardening to plant in pots on a porch or in a defined planter. 

'Foxtail fern is sculptural, soft and inviting,' says Amy Hovis. 'It stays perky all year long and, in the case of an extreme freeze, no problem - just cut it back to the ground and it will pop right back up in the spring.'

9. Texas mountain laurel

mountain laurel plant by Barton Springs Nursery

(Image credit: Barton Springs Nursery)

If you're looking for the perfect plant that can withstand heat and cold to be used for screening or privacy, Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) is your guy.

'A small evergreen tree, the Texas Mountain Laurel is highly drought-tolerant and can handle both heat and cold,' says Amy Hovis. 

'It produces fragrant purple flowers in the spring and is a popular low-maintenance choice for xeriscapes.'

10. Gregg's mistflower

Gregg's mistflower by Eden Garden Design

(Image credit: Eden Garden Design)

Gregg's mistflower (Conoclinium greggii) is a flowering perennial that is extremely hardy and drought-tolerant.

Amy comments: 'It's a favorite as it's a butterfly magnet and every time I plant it, I will have a garden swarming with happy butterflies. It's a sun-loving plant with a delicate purple puff of a bloom. If it dies back in a freeze, you can cut it to the ground and it will grow back in the spring. 

'Planted in masses, it creates a wonderful softness in a landscape - and who doesn't want a ton of butterflies?'

11. Texas redbud

red yucca in garden by Eden Garden Design

(Image credit: Eden Garden Design/Greg Thomas)

Although not as heat-tolerant as some other plants on the list, the Texas Redbud is It's known its ability to withstand cold snaps in the winter.

It truly offers seasonal interest with beautiful pink flowers in the spring, foliage that turns deep gold and red in the fall, and purple seedpods in the winter.

This low-maintenance plant makes a striking addition to flower beds along garden paths on a front entrance.

Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.