332-Growing Cool Season Flowers, with Lisa Mason Ziegler-Encore Presentation

| Podcast, Prepare

Fall may be here, but the gardening season is far from over. Cool season flowers can be planted now or early next spring to give your garden a pop of color and aroma before most gardens are in bloom. In this week’s podcast, flower farmer Lisa Mason Ziegler shares her tips for what to grow, when and how.

Lisa is a teacher and author based in Newport News, Virginia, who has been farming flowers for a quarter of a century. She is the founder of The Gardener’s Workshop, which offers seeds, supplies and online courses, and she has written four books, including “Vegetables Love Flowers: Companion Planting for Beauty and Bounty” and “Cool Flowers: How to Grow and Enjoy Long-Blooming Hardy Annual Flowers Using Cool Weather Techniques.” 


Lisa Mason Ziegler is a flower farmer and author will lots of experience growing cool season flowers.

Lisa Mason Ziegler is a flower farmer and author will lots of experience growing cool season flowers. (Photo Courtesy of Lisa Ziegler)


When Lisa published “Cool Flowers” in 2014, she featured 30 types of flowers. Since then she’s learned so much more, and now her list of cool season flowers has nearly doubled in length. Lisa is sharing her list, with the flowers’ hardiness zones identified, to help you determine the right time to plant in your zone. If an annual is winter hardy in your zone, it can be planted in fall or very early spring. If it’s not winter hardy, it can still be planted in very early spring. Find this helpful sheet at

For a comprehensive recap of my conversation with Lisa Mason Ziegler, see the show notes from the original airing.

Which cool season flowers to grow and when to plant them varies by location. “It’s all about where you live,” Lisa points out. “We have different timing for different regions.”

Many growers can put seedlings in the ground in fall that will overwinter successfully and become the earliest, most abundant, easy-care flowers of the spring-to-early-summer garden.

“The greatest part of fall planting this group of flowers is it changes winter for you,” Lisa says. Instead of sitting in the house and not bothering to look out the window, the first thing you think of when you get up in the morning is “I wonder if they’re still alive. I wonder if they’re still out there,” she says. “You are peeking out the windows. You’re putting on your coat and going out there — when you otherwise wouldn’t — to look at your frozen little plants.”

Lisa direct sows seeds in the fall. In the spring and summer, she refrains from direct sowing because of weed and heat pressure. In spring, summer and fall, she plants the transplants that she started from seed in soil blocks indoors.

Lisa is a big believer in planting as much as you are able to in the fall. Snapdragons planted in fall, for example, will have better pest and disease resistance, greater abundance and longer stems than snapdragons planted in spring, and they will bloom longer in summer heat because they are better established, she says. 

Fall’s also a great time to plant because the pest and disease pressure is reduced and the humidity is down — it’s much easier on the plants and a much more comfortable time to work in the garden. 

In full sun is always the best location for cool season flower beds. If you’re dealing with shade from deciduous trees, early spring bloomers like poppies and bachelor’s buttons are your friends. They will bloom in March (depending on where you live) before the trees put their leaves on and cast shade. And bachelor’s buttons, aka cornflowers, excrete nectar from their flowers as well as their foliage, which is why they attract so many beneficial bees and wasps.


Sweet Peas

Growing cool-season annuals is simple once you know how to get started. (Courtesy of Lisa Mason Ziegler)


If you haven’t already listened to my discussion with Lisa Mason Ziegler about cool season flowers, you can scroll to the top of the page and click the Play icon in the green bar under the page title to do so now.

What flowers do you grow to enjoy in early spring? Let us know in the comments below.

Links & Resources

Some product links in this guide are affiliate links. See full disclosure below.

Episode 049: When Good Bugs Eat Bad Bugs: The Business of Beneficial Insects

Episode 088: The New Organic Grower: 50-Years in the Making, with Eliot Coleman

Episode 103: How to Create a Backyard Meadow: Simple Steps for Success No Matter the Space

Episode 224: Expert Advice on Planting Flowering Bulbs in Fall, with Brent Heath

Episode 225: Growing Roses Sustainably

Episode 231: Vegetables Love Flowers (and Why You Should Grow More)

Episode 269: The Ultimate Guide to Flower Growing, With Jenny Rose Carey

Episode 274: Growing Cool-Season Annuals for Earlier Color and Hardier Plants

joegardener free resource: Cool Flowers Planting Guide

joegardener free resource: 6 Steps to Creating a Three-Season Cut Flower Garden

joegardenerTV YouTube: How to Create a Wildlife-Friendly Habitat in Your Garden or Landscape

joegardener Online Gardening Academy™: Popular courses on gardening fundamentals; managing pests, diseases & weeds; seed starting and more.

joegardener Online Gardening Academy Organic Vegetable Gardening: My new premium online course. The course is designed to be a comprehensive guide to starting, growing, nurturing and harvesting your favorite vegetables: no matter what you love to eat, no matter where you live, no matter your level of gardening experience.

joegardener Online Gardening Academy Master Seed Starting: Everything you need to know to start your own plants from seed — indoors and out. 

joegardener Online Gardening Academy Beginning Gardener Fundamentals: Essential principles to know to create a thriving garden.

joegardener Online Gardening Academy Growing Epic Tomatoes: Learn how to grow epic tomatoes with Joe Lamp’l and Craig LeHoullier. 

joegardener Online Gardening Academy Master Pests, Diseases & Weeds: Learn the proactive steps to take to manage pests, diseases and weeds for a more successful garden with a lot less frustration. Just $47 for lifetime access!

joegardener Online Gardening Academy Perfect Soil Recipe Master Class: Learn how to create the perfect soil environment for thriving plants.

Earthbound Expeditions: Discover South Africa with Joe Lamp’l

joegardener Newsletter

joegardener Facebook

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joegardener Instagram

joegardener Pinterest

joegardener Twitter

joegardenerTV YouTube

Growing a Greener World® 


GGW Episode 704: The 50-Mile Bouquet: Why Local Matters with Flowers, Too

The Gardener’s Workshop

The Gardener’s Workshop on YouTube

The Gardener’s Workshop on Facebook

The Gardener’s Workshop on Instagram

Vegetables Love Flowers: Companion Planting for Beauty and Bounty by Lisa Mason Ziegler

Cool Flowers: How to Grow and Enjoy Long-Blooming Hardy Annual Flowers Using Cool Weather Techniques” by Lisa Mason Ziegler

The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers” by Lynn Byczynski

USDA Zone Finder

Almanac First & Last Frost Date Finder


Flower support netting

AG-19 row cover 

Garden hoops 

Greenhouse Megastore – Our podcast episode sponsor and Brand Partner of – Enter code JG10 for 10% off your order

Disclosure: Some product links in this guide are affiliate links, which means we get a commission if you purchase. However, none of the prices of these resources have been increased to compensate us, and compensation is not an influencing factor on their inclusion here. The selection of all items featured in this post and podcast was based solely on merit and in no way influenced by any affiliate or financial incentive, or contractual relationship. At the time of this writing, Joe Lamp’l has professional relationships with the following companies who may have products included in this post and podcast: Corona Tools, Milorganite, Soil3, Greenhouse Megastore, Territorial Seed Company, Earth’s Ally, Proven Winners ColorChoice and Dramm. These companies are either Brand Partners of and/or advertise on our website. However, we receive no additional compensation from the sales or promotion of their product through this guide. The inclusion of any products mentioned within this post is entirely independent and exclusive of any relationship.

About Joe Lamp'l

Joe Lamp’l is the creator and “joe” behind joe gardener®. His lifetime passion and devotion to all things horticulture has led him to a long-time career as one of the country’s most recognized and trusted personalities in organic gardening and sustainability. That is most evident in his role as host and creator of Emmy Award-winning Growing a Greener World®, a national green-living lifestyle series on PBS currently broadcasting in its tenth season. When he’s not working in his large, raised bed vegetable garden, he’s likely planting or digging something up, or spending time with his family on their organic farm just north of Atlanta, GA.

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