Grow the best outdoor plants for your garden when you start with your site’s hardiness zone. “Right plant, right place” is a fundamental principle of gardening. When you know your area's USDA hardiness zone, you can select the flowers, edibles, shrubs and trees that will not just survive, but thrive in your garden.
The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map takes average minimum winter temperatures across the country and breaks out zones. There's a total of 13 zones with temperatures ranging from -60 degrees Fahrenheit (Zone 1) to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (Zone 13).
At the top of our Home Depot hardiness zone map, you'll find Zone 2. Traveling south, the numbers increase to Zone 10 in the southernmost points of the United States. Each zone represents a 10 degrees Fahrenheit range. For example, Zone 7 is the pale green belt across the middle of the country. In zone 7, the average lowest temperature in winter is 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
In this guide, you'll learn your area's plant zone and how to know what to grow in your garden.
Know Your Hardiness Zone
Knowing your hardiness zone helps you plan a durable and successful garden. For example, it's important to learn what plants are perennial in your zone and will come up each year. You can save money and time when you plant perennial flowers instead of annuals. Learn more about the differences between annuals and perennials.
It's easy to find plant zone info. The zone info is located on seed packets, plant tags and online descriptions. When you shop for winter hardy plants, choose your zone and and the next coldest zones. For example, if you live in Zone 6, choose plants that are winter hardy to zones 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2. (Keep in mind that plants that can handle Zone 2 winter cold may not tolerate the heat of a Zone 6 summer.) Plants that fall in your range will thrive in your landscape.
What is my Planting Zone?
In the chart, look for your area of the United States. Follow the color-coded dots at the bottom of the map for your zone.
Keep in mind that hardiness zones are guidelines for good organic gardening practice. Your gardening space may have a microclimate that’s a little warmer, drier, cooler or wetter than the zone map says. The maps are based on averages, and if you’ve watched the weather for a while, you know that there are seasons of extreme weather patterns. In addition to purchasing the right plant for the right place, you can also take extra care to protect the plants in your garden. Make sure plants have well-draining soil by adding organic compost to the planting bed. Protect plants from extreme cold with a blanket of mulch.
Much of the U.S. gardens in USDA planting zones 4 through 8. The temperature range for these four zones is –30 degrees Fahrenheit to +30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Zone 2 includes the coldest parts of the U.S like northern Minnesota and parts of Alaska. The summer growing season is short and intense, as little as 100 days in some locales. Savvy gardeners look for native plants that thrive in this challenging climate.
Zone 3: Coldest winter temperatures for this zone range from –40 degrees to –30 degrees Fahrenheit. On the map, zone 3 covers northern Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming’s highest mountains, and parts of Alaska. Season extenders like cold frames and greenhouses help gardeners lengthen their growing seasons.
Zone 4 covers northern Midwest states from Montana to Wisconsin and into New England states Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. The challenge for zone 4 gardeners is selecting plants that can handle winter temperatures as low as –30 degrees Fahrenheit as well as soaring summer temps.
Zone 5 stretches in a band from Idaho on the west to Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, lower peninsula Michigan and pockets of Pennsylvania. Average winter temperatures can be as low as –20 degrees Fahrenheit in this area. Zone 5 gardeners have growing seasons up to 170 days, with fall’s first frost in early October.
Zone 6 forms a smile from Washington state in the west, south to Oklahoma and turns north to Connecticut. This region experiences four distinct seasons with spring weather starting in March followed by warm days in June. Winter minimum temperatures dip as low as –10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Zone 7. In the east, zone 7 runs in arc from Connecticut, down along the east Appalachian Mountains, through central Virginia, the western areas of North and South Carolina, the Tennessee Valley, northern areas of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, central Arkansas and Texas. In the west, it pulls in New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. The winters are typically mild, with temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Summers are hot and humid with temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Gardeners have a long growing season and can choose from a variety of annuals and perennials, shrubs and trees for their landscapes.
Zone 8 extends from Washington state, down along California and sweeps across Texas, through the Southeastern states up to Virginia. Average minimum temperature is 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Growing seasons are greater than 200 days, giving vegetable gardeners opportunity for multiple successive crops of their favorites.
Zone 9 includes the Western coastline, parts of South Texas, the Gulf Coast and parts of Florida. Frosts are uncommon in these areas. Average minimum temperature is 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Zone 9 gardeners’ growing season is nearly all year-round. Tropical plants that are treated as annuals in the rest of the country grow like perennials in zone 9.
Zone 10. South Florida, Southern Coastal California, and Western Arizona rarely see temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Gardening is a year-round activity in zone 10. Managing high humidity near the coast, and extreme temperatures in desert areas are challenges for zone 10 gardeners.
Knowing your garden's grow zone helps you choose the right plants for your garden. Another valuable piece of gardening information is your area’s average date of last frost in spring and average date of first frost in fall. These dates will help you plan spring and fall vegetable gardens. Find out your region's average date of last frost in spring and first frost in fall in this frost date calendar.
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