Edible plants that thrive in lower temperatures

I’m near Philadelphia, PA and need more information about your edible plants besides lettuces that are happy at lower temperatures.

I get very little sun and know from experience that plants like basil, etc. will not even germinate on my windowsills much less grow in colder weather. So I want to work with what I do have.

My green lettuce planted on October 28 is growing well—in between my kitchen and living room—with 3 more pods and 6 romaine waiting for space in my gardens.

The windowsill temp in my coldest room—which is the only space left—dropped to 64° F last night and will drop lower in the really colder months, but certainly not as low as in Toronto, Canada.

So what edible leafy plants besides the two lettuces would be good on a northern climate windowsill in cold weather? And just how low a temperature can they germinate at and tolerate?



Great question! I’m a Canadian so I’m interested in this challenge too. :snowflake: :snowman:

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Hi Kathryne!

Thinking along the lines of ‘cole crops’/crucifers/brassicas kale might be more tolerant than most and also garden cress. There’s evidently a demand for a more cold-temps-hardy cress because research is being done in that direction. But other than those two presently in C&G’s lineup I don’t think there are any besides the lettuces.

Excellent question.

Parsley can tolerate temperatures as low as 20 degrees F (6 degrees C). It’s cool to watch it stick out of snow alive and well.
Also chives can withstand 40° F (+5 C) and it may even tolerate frost.


Very good to know! So can I assume they’ll both germinate at lower temps too?

Priit (CG gardener)

So they seem to do. I would feel safe with other members of the Lamiaceae family too. They are usually the first who germinate in the spring.

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At lower temps it is worth to try (in addition to the plants mentioned above) arugula, leaf mustard, red leaf beet, romaine lettuce, green sorrel, bloody sorrel and the newest plant pak choi. From herbs dill is also good with somewhat lower temps.


I think Garden sage would also survive colder temperatures.

I think wild strawberries :strawberry: might live as well. …I found some in my yard this week, so clearly they can survive the winter and germinate outdoors.

I also just posted asking about lavender which is edible if you like the scent and sweet taste.

Thanks but I’m forced to stick to innocuous leafy plants and some herbs now.
Annoyed So instead I’ve focused on salad
greens and a few common herbs. The romaine, green leaf lettuce, dill, thyme, and bloody sorrel have done very well. I have just one nice almost-ripe yellow sweet pepper from a mid-December experimental planting, so they probably do much better in climates
like Singapore enjoys. And I’ve got dandelion seed for the summer for greens in the experimental pods.

Kathryne via Click & Grow Ask a Gardener

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