Growing Zone Map - Find Your Plant Hardiness Zone

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Growing zones

The most widely used growing zone map in North America is the USDA hardiness zone map, which breaks down all areas of the United States into zones, according to the lowest and highest temperatures of their climate.

Using this growing zone map can be very useful to help understand that plants are best suited for your local region.

What is A Growing Zone?

A growing zone is also known as a hardiness zone, which defines a specific geographic area and details the climate conditions in reference to how well a plant is able to grow or survive in those conditions. Attempts at creating maps of growing zones date back to the 1920s in the United States, and the very first edition of the USDA plant hardiness zone map was created in 1960. Subsequent efforts were made at regular intervals to improve the accuracy of the map, and it soon became revered by gardeners across America as the tool by that they based their plant choices.

The latest version of the United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone map was released in 2012 and has since become the gold standard that gardeners use to decide the plants they will grow. The USDA plant hardiness zone map is considered to be the ultimate reference when it comes to growing zones for plants, so if someone refers to a growing zone, they are typically referring to a USDA hardiness zone from the map. This map features 13 growing zones, with 1 being the coldest zone and 13 being the hottest zone.

There is typically a 10°F difference in temperature between each zone, so as you work your way higher up the zones, you are going up in 10°F increments. For example, zone 5 would be 10°F warmer than zone 4. In order to have a garden full of plants that are thriving, you should determine that zone you are in based on the growing zone map and then select plants that are recommended for these zones. Annual plants tend to be a much easier option as they do not need to survive through winter, and therefore their hardiness isn’t really relevant. For perennial plants, checking the growing zone map is essential; otherwise, you may be buying plants that die once the cold temperatures set in.

The previous USDA plant hardiness zone map was released in 1990, and while still very useful, is considered to not be as accurate as the most recent version. This is because the 1990 map was based on studies of temperature and climate data over a 13-year period, while the latest 2012 map was a result of using over 30 years’ worth of data. The 2012 map also included some intelligent algorithms that also factored in how elevation and terrain would affect the growing zone, as well as proximity to large bodies of water.

What is Plant Hardiness?

Plant hardiness refers to a specific plant’s ability to withstand cold conditions. A hardy plant will be tolerant of cooler conditions, and a very hardy plant will be able to survive freezing temperatures and snowdrifts. Some plants are not hardy and are referred to as ‘tender.’ Tender plants should only be grown in frost-free climates, which are higher up on the scale of growing zones.

Understanding how hardy a plant is will help you to correctly choose plants for your garden, as it determines how well it is able to perform in your climate. Some plants are able to thrive even in adverse weather conditions, while some will perish at the mere thought of frost. The risk of buying plants without checking their hardiness is that they will be unable to survive winter in your local climate, and you will have wasted money buying them and wasted time caring for them. It can also make for a sad-looking spot in your garden.

Which Growing Zone Am I In?

You can quickly find out that growing zone you are in by checking an image of the USDA hardiness zone map. The map is color-coded so that figuring out your local growing zone is simple. The cooler growing zones, where plants need to be more hardy to survive, are generally towards the north of the map, while warmer growing zones that are better suited to tender plants are located across the south.

Zone 1

Zone 1 is the coldest growing zone in the United States, and it includes parts of Alaska. It can be very tricky to hard non-native plants that will survive year-round in this harsh climate, so it is best to stick with native plants that have evolved to cope with the cold temperatures. Alternatively, annual plants are a good option as they simply grow in the summer when temperatures are milder and then fade away as the seasons change.

Zone 1 Temperatures

The minimum average temperatures in Zone 1 range between -60 to -50°F

Plants to Grow in Zone 1

Vegetables are great for growing in Zone 1 because you can choose annuals that don’t need to survive through winter. Short-season vegetables are especially good because the warmer months in Zone 1 tend to be quite short and limiting. Radishes are great because they can be harvested in as little as 30 days, and lettuce is also a good option as it can usually be harvested after 45 days. Vegetables that take a little longer to reach maturity are also an option if they are sown indoors a few weeks before the last expected frost, as this will give them a head start.

When it comes to herbs, you can grow almost any herb in Zone 1, keeping them outside in the summer and moving them back inside to your kitchen windowsill for the remainder of the year. For flowers, choose annual flowering plants or those that are native to the local area. There are very few types of fruit trees that will survive the winters in Zone 1, but if you would like a challenge, then apple trees are your best bet. Choose the most hardy varieties and mulch over the soil to help insulate the roots during winter.

HerbsThyme, Mint, Basil, Oregano, Chives, Rosemary, Parsley
FlowersSunflower, Yarrow, Delphinium, Oxeye Daisy
Fruit trees and shrubsSeptember Ruby apple, Fort Mac apple, Chokecherry
VegetablesSpinach, Carrots, Lettuce, Beets, Radish, Kale, Swiss Chard, Beans, Tomatoes

Zone 2

Zone 2 encompasses other areas of Alaska, where winters are slightly milder than Zone 1 but still very cold and unwelcoming for the vast majority of plants. As with Zone 1, stick with annual plants, native plants, and vegetables that can reach maturity in a short space of time. Some perennial vegetables, such as asparagus, may survive with added protection. As well as coping with low temperatures, plants in this zone will also have to survive in strong winds. You can use some techniques to minimize the stress your plants are faced with, for example utilizing walls and fences so that plants have some protection when grown outside.

Zone 2 Temperatures

The minimum average temperatures in Zone 2 range between -50 to -40°F

Plants to Grow in Zone 2

In addition to the plants listed above, you can also grow:

HerbsJuniper, Hyssop
FlowersPoppy, Violet, Bleeding Heart, Sea Holly, Primrose
Fruit trees and shrubsFall red apple, Parkland apple, Brookgold plum, Korean pine, Pembina plum
VegetablesParsnips, Onions, Asparagus

Zone 3

Zone 3 encompasses many areas of the United States, including parts of Alaska, New York, Montana, Maine, Wyoming, Vermont, Idaho, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and New Hampshire. As we move into this zone, the options for plants you can successfully grow all year round greatly opens up, as the temperatures become slightly milder and less hostile for many different plants. While annuals are still great in zone 3, there are also many perennials you can grow in this climate to provide you with interest in the garden through every season.

Once again, the summers are fairly short in this zone, so select vegetables that mature quickly in order to beat the frost. You can also cover your vegetables with agricultural fabric to help protect against cold, frost, or snow and mulch the ground to help insulate roots. Start your vegetables indoors several weeks before the last frost to get a head start and ensure they have long enough to grow and mature before cold temperatures arrive again.

Zone 3 Temperatures

The minimum average temperatures in Zone 3 range between -40 to -30°F

Plants to Grow in Zone 3

In addition to the plants listed above, you can also grow:

HerbsCatnip, Garlic, Peppermint, Caraway, Chamomile, Sorrel, Horseradish
FlowersBlanket flower, Salvia, Spurge, Aster, Wallflower
Fruit trees and shrubsWestcot apricot, Toka plum, Evans cherry, Goodland apple, Golden Spice pear
VegetablesCucumber, Celery, Squash

Zone 4

This zone includes southern parts of Alaska, as well as regions of Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, North Dakota, Michigan, Vermont, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Arizona, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

Planting in Zone 4 is less challenging than colder zones as the temperatures are milder and more forgiving; however, the warm seasons are still short in this zone, so this will affect the vegetables you can grow, as well as the blooming of flowers. In zone 4, you can grow certain herbs and flowers all year round, as they are hardy in this climate, and these can be found listed below. Zone 4 also opens up possibilities to grow perennial vegetables, though they would benefit from being started indoors.

Zone 4 Temperatures

The minimum average temperatures in Zone 4 range between -30 to -20°F

Plants to Grow in Zone 4

In addition to the plants listed above, you can also grow:

HerbsThyme, Sage, Bee balm, Mountain mint, Angelica
FlowersHosta, Phlox, Coneflower, Iris
Fruit trees and shrubsSummercrisp pear, Nova pear, Alexander apple, Railroad apple, Alderman plum
VegetablesPumpkins, Melons, Eggplant, Rhubarb

Zone 5

Areas in zone 5 experience moderately cold winters, and while warm seasons are slightly longer here than in cooler zones, they are still not very long. These include regions of Nevada, Oregon, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Michigan, New York, Minnesota, Colorado, Wyoming, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Idaho, Indiana, Virginia, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, Illinois, West Virginia, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Alaska, Arizona, California, Nebraska, Utah, and Vermont. Many perennial herbs, vegetables, and flowers can be grown here, and these are listed below.

Zone 5 Temperatures

The minimum average temperatures in Zone 5 range between -20 and -10°F

Plants to Grow in Zone 5

In addition to the plants listed above, you can also grow:

HerbsLavender, Mint
FlowersCampanula, Baptisia, Black Eyed Susan
Fruit trees and shrubsPink Lady apple, Honeycrisp apple, Snow Beauty Peach, Warren pear, Pawpaw
VegetablesWinter greens, Spinach, Kale, Radish

Zone 6

This zone represents much of the United States. It experiences cold winters but warm or hot summers, which offers enormous possibility and growing potential for a wide range of plants. Zone 6 regions can be found in Maryland, Utah, Virginia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Alaska, New Hampshire, Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, West Virginia, Wyoming, Maine, Montana, Ohio, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, and Washington.

Zone 6 Temperatures

The minimum average temperatures in Zone 6 range between -10 to -0°F

Plants to Grow in Zone 6

In addition to the plants listed above, you can also grow:

HerbsOregano, Coriander, Dill
FlowersRose, Sedum, Japanese Bottlebrush, Flowering fern
Fruit trees and shrubsNectar peach, Jefferson peach, Red globe peach
VegetablesMelons, Tomatoes, Squash

Zone 7

Many types of regions are categorized under zone 7 temperature zones, from coastal areas to the prairies. The wide range of area types means you should take into account other factors when choosing plants, such as drought and soil type. Winters are milder in zone 7, and summers are long and hot, providing ideal conditions for many flowers and vegetables.

Zone 7 Temperatures

The minimum average temperatures in Zone 7 range between 0 to 10°F

Plants to Grow in Zone 7

In addition to the plants listed above, you can also grow:

HerbsTarragon, Sage, Marjoram
FlowersClematis, Peony, Forget-me-not, Painted daisy, Chrysanthemum
Fruit trees and shrubsScout apricot, Turkey fig, Fuji apple, Granny Smith apple, Bing cherry, Mulberries, Elderberries
VegetablesArugula, Turnips, Peppers

Zone 8

This zone has very mild winters and hot, long summers. It provides ideal growing conditions for many plants, so the choices are almost endless if you live in this region. Zone 8 includes parts of Maryland, Mississippi, Alaska, Nevada, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona, Texas, Utah, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, California, Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon, Georgia, Louisiana, and Washington.

Zone 8 Temperatures

The minimum average temperatures in Zone 8 range between 10 to 20°F

Plants to Grow in Zone 8

Plants that thrive in this zone include:

HerbsSage, Rosemary, Bay laurel
FlowersGeranium, Phlox, Petunia
Fruit trees and shrubsBronze banana, Meyer lemon, Ruby grapefruit, Clementine tangerine, Plums, Peaches
VegetablesCantaloupe, Okra, Watermelon, Tomatoes, Peas

Zone 9

Zone 9 is considered to be an all year round growing zone. Summer temperatures last for around nine months of the year, which means flowers can bloom for longer, and you can have a continuous supply of homegrown vegetables. Be careful to shade some plants, as the summer heat can be extreme. This zone includes parts of Alabama, New Mexico, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Washington, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, California, Utah, and Louisiana.

Zone 9 Temperatures

The minimum average temperatures in Zone 9 range between 20 to 30°F

Plants to Grow in Zone 9

HerbsChives, Basil, Mint, Lemon thyme
FlowersDahlia, Hydrangea, Wisteria, Zinnia, Rhododendron
Fruit trees and shrubsOlive, Avocado, Kiwi, Passionfruit, Pomelo
VegetablesCabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower

Zone 10

This zone has warm winters, but the extreme heat during summer can limit the plants that will thrive here. Zone 10 includes parts of Texas, California, Louisiana, Nevada, Florida, Hawaii, and Arizona.

Zone 10 Temperatures

The minimum average temperatures in Zone 10 range between 30 to 40°F

Plants to Grow in Zone 10

HerbsGinger, Galangal, Curry leaf
FlowersAloes, African lily, Aeonium, Allium
Fruit trees and shrubsPapaya, Jackfruit, Guava
VegetablesSpinach, Melon

Zone 11

This is a hot zone, where hardiness is not an issue, and instead, gardeners have to consider a plant’s heat tolerance. Zone 11 covers some of Florida, California, and Hawaii.

Zone 11 Temperatures

The minimum average temperatures in Zone 11 range between 40 to 50°F

Plants to Grow in Zone 11

HerbsLemongrass, Mexican oregano, Basil
FlowersBougainvillea, Palms, Begonias
Fruit trees and shrubsMango, Macadamia, Grapes
VegetablesBeets, Carrots, Kale

Zones 12 and 13

These zones are not found in the continental US but cover parts of Hawaii and Puerto Rico. These zones are ideal for growing tropical and exotic plants, but heat tolerance can be an issue with some plants.

Zone 12 and 13 Temperatures

The minimum average temperatures in Zone 12 range between 50 to 70°F

Plants to Grow in Zone 12 and 13

HerbsCilantro, Sage
FlowersHeliconia, Strelitziaceae
Fruit trees and shrubsOlives, Apricots, Almonds
VegetablesEggplant, Tomatoes, Bush beans

 

Growing Zone Map - Find Your Plant Hardiness Zone