What Planting Zone Am I In?  Everything You Have Ever Wanted To Know About Planting Hardiness Zones

Everything You Need to Know About Planting Zones


It can be really hard to know what plants are most likely to live outside in your region. Google doesn't always give reliable advice, and you don't want to spend a ton of money on a new plant if it is just going to die during its first winter! To help arm you with the knowledge you need, you have to first learn about planting Zones, also known as "plant hardiness Zones." These Zones, mapped by the USDA, are used to describe the yearly minimum winter temperature. By knowing this, you will be able to see if the plants you want to purchase will survive the winter season in your area! 

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

 

Plant Hardiness

You will often hear these Zones described as plant hardiness Zones, but what is plant hardiness exactly? It is just a description of the ability for a plant to survive bad weather, like droughts, frosts, and flooding. Different plants have evolved over time to handle different environments, so everywhere from the chilly northern lakes to the dry Arizona deserts has greenery. As you start researching plants that thrive in your Zone, you will start to notice that how plants are "hardy" can vary. They may be evergreen even within the coldest Zones, or they may be perennials or annuals that have developed a cycle of dying and being reborn!


Planting Zone Temperatures

Every Zone has a minimum average annual extreme temperature. Here are the Zones by their temperatures:


Zone

Temperature

Zone

Temperature

 

1a

-60 °F to -55 °F 

 

7a

0 °F to 5 °F

1b

-55 °F to -50 °F 

7b

5 °F to 10 °F

 

2a

-50 °F to -45 °F 

 

8a

10 °F to 15 °F

2b

-45 °F to -40 °F

8b

15 °F to 20 °F

 

3a

-40 °F 50 -35 °F

 

9a

20 °F to 25 °F

3b

-35 °F to -30 °F

9b

25 °F to 30 °F

 

4a

-30 °F 50 -25 °F

 

10a

30 °F to 35 °F

4b

-25 °F to -20 °F

10b

35 °F to 40 °F

 

5a

-20 °F to -15 °F

 

11a

40 °F to 45 °F

5b

-15 °F to -10 °F

11b

45 °F to 50 °F

 

6a

-10 °F to -5 °F

 

12a

50 °F to 55 °F

6b

-5 °F to 0 °F

12b

55 °F to 60 °F



What Zone do I Live in?

So, what Zone do you live in? Take a look at our map below, or look at the USDA Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map here!


Once you have identified your Zone, take a look below for some basic guidelines on plants that love your area! As a general rule of thumb, any plants in Zones below yours can often thrive in your area as well. 


Planting in Zone 1

If you are braving the elements to plant in Zone 1, you are truly sacrificing for your plants! It can be hard to find greenery hardy enough to survive this Zone, which is mostly found in the coldest reaches of Alaska. Your best bet in this harsh Zone is to look for plants that are native in the area. If they already survive in the wild, then they are a safe bet for your garden!



Zone

Temperature

 

1a

-60 °F to -55 °F 

1b

-55 °F to -50 °F 



What Grows Best in Zone 1?


Perennials

Hardy perennials are a great choice for Zone 1. Finding options that don’t die over the winter can be difficult, but luckily many of these bulbs can make it through the season. Some good options to consider are:


Yarrow

Daylilies

Creeping or Wooly Thyme

Lily of the Valley

False Spirea

Columbine

Siverian Iris


Herbs and Vegetables:

Remember that you can always grow annual plants during the warmer months in these climates or opt to move plants inside before the frost. Many plants do well starting off inside and then moving outside as the months get warmer. Some great options are:


Rosemary 

Oregano

Tomatoes

Beans

Potatoes

Greens like Lettuce or Spinach



Trees/Bushes:

Native plants to these areas are tough and can handle the harsh winters. Some common plants for these zones include:


Crowberries

Netleaf Willows

Dwarf Birch

Labrador Tea

Quaking Aspen

Artemisia

Goldenrod

Arrowhead

Oxeye Daisies

Planting in Zone 2

Zone 2 faces many of the same challenges as Zone 1, however, is much more common across the states. Plants in these Zones need to withstand both the harsh winters and the long droughts that often accommodate the tundras in these regions. 



Zone

Temperature

 

2a

-50 °F to -45 °F 

2b

-45 °F to -40 °F



What Grows Best in Zone 2?


Flowers/Perennials:

Though still quite cold, Zone 2 provides a few more options than Zone 1. At this temperature, asparagus can actually be grown as a perennial if protected.


Pansies

Lilacs

Phlox

Sunflowers

Violets

Poppies

Bleeding Heart Flowers


Herbs/Vegetables:

Similar to Zone 1, there are plants that can be grown just over the warmer season or by bringing them indoors before the frost. Some good options are:


Carrots

Onions

Greens like Swiss chard

Beets

Parsnips

Radishes


Trees/Bushes:

In Zone 2, there are many beautiful native bushes and trees that you can consider planting in your garden or yard, such as:


Paper and Silver Birch

Boxelder Maple

Chokecherry

Lowbush Blueberries

Blackberry Bushes

Common Juniper

Smooth Sumac

Some Apple Trees such as Minnesota 1734 and Parkland Apples

Some Plum Trees such as the Pembina or Fofonoff Plum


Planting in Zone 3

Zone 3 has a very short growing window, with its first frost being September 15th and its final frost being around May 15th. Row covers can protect plants from potential frosts. This Zone is mainly found around the northern US and Alaska. These areas can have severe weather, so consider this when picking plants for the outdoors. 


Zone

Temperature

 

3a

-40 °F 50 -35 °F

3b

-35 °F to -30 °F



What Grows Best in Zone 3?


Flowers/Perennials:

Mukgenia Nova

Bergenia

Siberian Bugloss

Alcea Rosea

Amaranthus Caudatus

Aster


Herbs/Vegetables:

As previously stated, the short growing season can make vegetable gardens tough. Consider starting them inside to give them the head start they need, and make sure they will be harvestable before the frost. 


Chard

Radicchio

Collards

Kale

Bok Choy

Edible Chrysanthemum

Cilantro


Trees/Bushes:

Dolgo Crabapple

Chinese Red Birch

Eastern Red Cedar

Semi-Dwarf Apple

Toka Plum

Westcot Apricot

Japanese Tree Lilac


Other:

Maidenhair Fern

Hosta

Lady Fern


Planting in Zone 4

The cool climates of Zone 4 make it hard to grow non-hardy plants, but there are many options to help plants survive the winters. Through mulching for warmth or starting seeds inside, you can help your plants get a start before the first frost. Cool weather crops can do well in this zone, and the general rule is to not plant things outdoors here until Mother’s Day.


Zone

Temperature

 

4a

-30 °F 50 -25 °F

4b

-25 °F to -20 °F



What Grows Best in Zone 4?


Flowers/Perennials:

Rhubarb can live as a perennial in this zone, along with many hardy bulbs. 


Anise Hyssop

Goat’s beard

Gayfeather

Lamb’s ears

Hardy Geraniums

Bellflower

Rockcress

Carnations

 


Herbs/Vegetables:

Thyme

Eggplant

Mountain Mint

Garden Sage

Sweet Basil

Purple Basil

Parsley Italian

 


Trees/Bushes:

Summer Crisp Pear

Kiwi Vine

Weeping cherry

Newport plum

Little leaf linden

Flowering crabapple


Planting in Zone 5



Zone

Temperature

 

5a

-20 °F to -15 °F

5b

-15 °F to -10 °F



What Grows Best in Zone 5?

Zone 5 can be found in New England and in the Northern Central US. These zones cover a large number of biomes, so what plants will work in these zones is very dependent on your location. For example, plants that will work well in the Midwest woodlands probably won’t do as well in the wetlands. Raised beds and cold frames can help keep the soil warm, and can be a good solution for more sensitive Zone 5 plants.


Flowers/Perennials:

Baptisia

Russian sage 

Campanula

Bee balm

Cailardia

Rudbeckia

Salvia

Hollyhock

Armeria maritima


Herbs/Vegetables:

Some herbs and vegetables can be grown in Zone 5 later in the summer or fall, such as Kale and Spinach, giving you a second harvest!

Lavender

Winter greens

Spinach

Fava Beans

Kohlrabi

Oregano Italian


Trees/Bushes:

Harrow delight pear 

Honeycrisp apple

Pink lady apple

Warren pear


Other:

Clover Leaf Ivy

Green English Ivy


Planting in Zone 6

This zone spans the middle of the US, running from Massachusets down to Delaware, then south and west through to parts of Arizona. The band then runs up into Washington. The last frost is usually during March, and then the first frost is in late November. Many plants do well here, and this is an area where more common vegetables can thrive. 


Zone

Temperature

 

6a

-10 °F to -5 °F

6b

-5 °F to 0 °F



What Grows Best in Zone 6?


Flowers/Perennials:

Flowering fern

Japanese bottlebrush 

Lady’s Mantle 

Sedum

Old-fashioned bleeding heart

Fire and ice Hosta

Graceful allium

Peacock orchid

Mini Carnations


Herbs/Vegetables:

Zone 6 hits a perfect medium where it is still cool enough for many cool weather vegetables but is still warm enough for things like melons. 


Bush beans 

Butter lettuce

Winter squash 

Dill

False chamomile

Borage

Tricolor Romaine Lettuce


Trees/Bushes:

Many of the most popular blooming trees exist in Zone 6, as well as many fruiting ones! Peach trees do great here as well.


Acoma Crape Myrtle

Ginkgo Biloba

Jefferson Tree

Late Crawford

Dawn Redwood

Peach Trees


Other:

English Ivy Glacier


Planting in Zone 7

28 states include Zone 7 areas, making it a common Zone within the US. Many plants can overwinter here, and fruit trees do great at this temperature. There are even several varieties of citrus trees that grow in Zone 7! 


Zone

Temperature

 

7a

0 °F to 5 °F

7b

5 °F to 10 °F



What Grows Best in Zone 7?


Flowers/Perennials:

White Alaska Canna Lily

Cleopatra Canna Lily

Bengal Canna Lily

Peony

Painted Daisy

Chrysanthemum

Forget-me-not


Herbs/Vegetables:

Zone 7 has a long growing season, meaning many different herbs and vegetables grow great here! Some even tolerate the winter months, just be careful of younger, more delicate vegetables.


Rue

Tarragon

Feverfew

Arugula 

Sweet peppers 

Turnips

Celery


Trees/Bushes:

Bing Cherry

Fuji apple

Granny Smith apple

Ozark plum

Stella sherry 

Scout apricot

Red gold nectarine


Other:

English Ivy Gold Child


Planting in Zone 8

Zone 8 is the most common warm zone in the US. This Zone is great for growing almost any vegetable, mediterranean herbs, berries, and fruit trees! Mulch will help extend the long growing season even further. Check your climate to see what plants may do well there, as humidity and other factors may make some plants less ideal for your exact area.



Zone

Temperature

 

8a

10 °F to 15 °F

8b

15 °F to 20 °F



What Grows Best in Zone 8?


Flowers/Perennials:

In Zone 8, ensure that the flowers you grow won’t be scorched by the sun or heat. If they are sensitive to these elements, take the time to give them extra water or plant them in partial shade. 


Star Jasmine

Calla Lilies

Creeping thyme

Phlox paniculata 

Agastache blue fortune

Lemon Queen Sunflower

Dahlia Frost Nip

Ox-eye Daisy 

Henry's Lily 


Herbs/Vegetables:

Due to the long season, you have many different chances to start plants and do multiple harvests. Mediterranean herbs do well here!


Tuscan Blue Rosemary

Watermelon

Cantaloupe

Okra

Field Peas 

Bay Laurel 

Marjoram


Trees/Bushes:

Gala Apple 

Ruby grapefruit

Washington orange

Darjeeling Banana

Alma Fig


Other:

Split Leaf Philodendron

Gardenia Veitchii

Mammoth Elephant Ear

Moonlight Fern

Japanese Aralia


Planting in Zone 9

Zone 9 has a very long growing season, considered a “year-round” season. While some plants will still be susceptible to the last frost around December 15th, most vegetables will be harvested long before then. Zone 8 and 9 are the turning point where too much heat is your new concern - make sure plants are protected from the rays if they are sensitive to the warm sun. 



Zone

Temperature

 

9a

20 °F to 25 °F

9b

25 °F to 30 °F



What Grows Best in Zone 9?


Flowers/Perennials:

Hydrangea

Zinnia

Wisteria 

Black-eyed Susan

Butterfly pea

Blue Porterweed

Marigolds

Herbs/Vegetables:

While most vegetables and herbs can grow in this Zone, it is important to consider that the heat of the summer means that many can’t be planted during that time. This means that you will have a few different planting times outside of summer in most cases.


Broccoli 

Brussel sprouts

Cauliflower

Lemon Thyme 

Chives

May laurel 


Trees/Bushes:

Hardy kiwi

Mandarin orange

Passionfruit

Olives

Starfruit 


Other: 

Variegated Snake Plant

ZZ Plant

Croton Petra

Spider Plant

Pygmy Palm


Planting in Zone 10

Zone 10 areas often never dip into freezing temperatures, making winter gardening much easier. As a trade off, the summers can get very hot, meaning not all plants can survive the heat. Zone 10 is known for having one of the longest growing seasons!


Zone

Temperature

 

10a

30 °F to 35 °F

10b

35 °F to 40 °F



What Grows Best in Zone 10?


Flowers/Perennials:

Tropical flowers do well in Zone 10, as they are usually more tough against the sun and heat. 


Peace Lily

African lily

Hummingbird Mint

Agave

Floss Flower 

Cosmos

Lantana

Pavonia

Verbena

Rex Begonia




Herbs/Vegetables:

Almost all vegetables can be grown in Zone 10 as long as they are protected with shade during the hot summer months.


Tomatillo

Ginger 

Bitter Melon

Miracle fruit

Curry Leaf 


Trees/Bushes:

Ficus Benjamina Midnight Braid

Apple Guava

Jackfruit tree

June Plum

Soursop Tree



Others:

Golden Pathos

Aralia Ming Stump / Aralia Fabian Stump

Neanthe Bella Parlor Palm

Fiddle Leaf Fig

Boston Fern

Zeylanica Snake Plant


Planting in Zone 11

Zone 11 is one of the warmest zones and is found in Hawaii and Southern Florida. Tropical plants do best in the high heats of these areas, but the humidity should be taken into account when picking proper plants. Cold season plants will have a very small window in this Zone, and plants will need to be heat tolerant.


Zone

Temperature

 

11a

40 °F to 45 °F

11b

45 °F to 50 °F


What Grows Best in Zone 11?


Flowers/Perennials:

Kangaroo Paw

Kalanchoe

Drumstick allium

Ponytail palm 

Abelmoschus Esculentus (Okra)

Bush Lily

Mother Fern


Herbs/Vegetables:

Herbs in Zone 11 can be hard, and they may not even produce seeds. Sometimes this means they may need to be annuals. 


Lemongrass

Cabbage

Sweet Peas

Mexian Oregano

Mint


Trees/Bushes:

Mango

Macadamia 

Natal Plum

Sea grape 

Eucalyptus

Ruby Red Grapefruit


Other:

Peacock Plant

Flamingo Flower

String of Pearls

Peperomia Ginny

Lemon Button Fern

Schefflera Gold Capella Umbrella Tree



Planting in Zone 12

Zone 12 is located in Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Plants here often need to be tropical and able to withstand the constant high heats of these areas. Exotic fruit trees and flowers grow here, but delicate plants may struggle. The monsoon season can lessen the heat temporarily, making it a chance to try and plant before the heat comes back.


Zone

Temperature

 

12a

50 °F to 55 °F

12b

55 °F to 60 °F


What Grows Best in Zone 12?


Flowers/Perennials:

Birds of Paradise

Desert Willow 

Moth Orchid

Cannacease

Heliconia


Herbs/Vegetables:

Shade and proper irrigation are essential to keep your veggies and herbs healthy. Try to pick heat-hardy options that are also strong against drought. 


Hot Pepper

Egg Plant

Summer Squashes

Sweet Potato

Yam

Basil 

Sage

Cinnamon

Nutmeg


Trees/Bushes:

Fruit Trees

Avocado

Buddha’s Hand

Macadamia Nut

Java Olive


Other:

Money Tree

Aloe Plant 

Chinese Money Plant

Giant Bird of Paradise

White Stripe Dragon Tree

Dracaena Warneckii




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