Planting Zones Guide: USDA Hardiness Zone Maps, Temp Zones by Zip Code

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | August 28, 2023

woman with a plant wonders about planting zones in the US and if there is a guide to all 50 states for the USDA hardiness zone maps showing temperature zones, planting guide for growing zones and the types of plants that grow in each zone.

It doesn’t really matter, whether you are a pro gardener or a first-timer trying to plant your very first tree, planting zones (that detail average temperature highs and lows) are crucial to understand.

These growing zones detail what types of plants can withstand the temperature extremes for that specific region.

If you don’t know what that means or find the whole concept a bit confusing, this guide with its maps can help.

USDA Hardiness Zones are basically the ultimate guide to ensure that whatever you grow is perfectly suited to the prevailing conditions in your area.

It is the thin line between being successful in your gardening or not because making the right choice according to your planting zones means that you will only focus on the plants that will do very well in your home.

It may seem a little bit too overwhelming at first, especially if you are trying to learn the ropes of farming. But don’t worry, this planting zones guide will explain the importance of the USDA hardiness zones, provide the zone maps and temp zones by zip code, and will break down and elaborate everything for you.

By the end, you should be able to make out the relationship between plants and hardiness zones and how this information may be one of the most invaluable that you will ever need before deciding on what to plant.

Planting Zones USA: What Are They?

Have you noticed that there are some types of trees that only grow in certain places in the world? And it makes you wonder, why?

There is no way that you will find a single type of tree, perennial, or shrub that is able to grow virtually anywhere, in any climate. There have to be some minimum requirements met before the plant is able to comfortably grow in a particular region.

Graphics of USDA hardiness zone map showing the color-coded map of the US and its other territories based on the annual prevailing climate condition.

Even when you search online for what country has the most trees, you will realize that the species available are only the ones that grow in that particular climate. This goes a long way to explain why thorough research is very important before you decide to grow a tree or plant.

So, to put it more in perspective, what exactly is a planting zone?

Simply put, planting zones are the areas that are highlighted in zone maps that clearly indicate the prevailing temperature conditions for which certain plants are supposed to survive.

For each zone, there are certain minimum conditions that favor some plants and for which other types cannot thrive in that region. For example, the plant hardiness zone for Florida is worlds apart from the hardiness zones in Alaska; the plants that grow in Florida will never live in the freezing cold temperatures of the state in the north.

That goes a pretty long way to explain why the terms “growing zones” and “plant hardiness zones” will come up pretty often when you are out shopping for a new plant or are searching online for the best tree to grow for your landscaping needs. For years now, gardeners have always referred to the information from the planting zones to determine exactly which plants are well-suited to live in their areas, and that has given them the upper hand and actually a higher rate of success.

You can think of it as a starting point that helps you make the most informed planting decisions.

To further break it all down, know that the USDA hardiness zones all start with Zone 1, which is literally the coldest temperature in the entire country.12 This will feature regions closest to the North Pole (Arctic Circle), which means that Alaska has got to be part of that.

On the flip side, the planting zones end in Zone 13, and of course, given that it is the exact opposite of Zone 1, it means that it will feature the states and regions with the hottest temperatures, or the warmest states.1 What comes first to your mind?

You must be thinking about states like Florida, Hawaii, and others around the tropics.

To make it easier to understand how the numbering system usually goes, you can have a simpler memorizing method. Picture this, the higher the number, from 1-13, the warmer the prevailing conditions.

But wait, apart from that, you should also know that in between the numbers, there are also subzones that are usually divided depending on the degrees.

Get this, each and every single hardiness zone has a 10-degree Fahrenheit difference and then each zone is divided into two.

Take for instance Zone 6 and Zone 5. There is a 10-degree difference that separates the two, but still, considering Zone 6 alone, you will realize that it is also further divided into two subzones, ‘a’ and ‘b’, in short.

Therefore, that means that there is another 5-degree difference between the two subzones.

How Does the USDA Map Work?

The idea behind the creation and the use of the map for planting zones may seem a little complex but trust that it is pretty straightforward when you come to think of it.

Basically, the USDA Hardiness Zones Map came to be after the data from various news stations all over the country was collected and compiled. When all the data came in, the professionals got down to business to create an elaborate way for people to identify their planting zones.

What happened is that they took the total average minimum temperature of the entire year for each and every area. Later on, it was these averages that were simply used to create the various USDA zones that you have come to know now.19

The regions with the lowest temperatures ever were denoted as zones 1a, while those with the highest took the number 13b.

Planting Zone Map and Average Temperatures

Now that you know that there are 13 planting zones according to the United States Department of Agriculture, the next thing is to dive deeper into each of these zones to find out what they are all about.

Before getting into that, you may also find it fascinating that there are many other distinct hardiness zones from various parts of the world. There are planting zone maps for Europe, Canada, and Australia that define the conditions in those regions.

While learning about the hardiness zones in your area, you should also be aware of the fact that the rules of gardening are not exactly cast in stone; there can be a few adjustments, because you know, nature will always find its way. For instance, if a certain plant is determined to be able to thrive in Zone 1, it will also survive in Zone 2 or 3 sometimes because the difference is not that significant.

To get a closer look at what it all means, here is a breakdown of each hardiness zone, its temperatures, and what makes it stand out from the rest.

USDA Zone 1

Zone 1 basically covers some small parts of Alaska and it is well-known that between its two subzones, the region usually experiences one of the coldest and most punishing weather ever in the entire country.

Cutout map of US and other territories with states and counties highlighted to show all areas within USDA Zone 1 and their prevailing temperatures.

With that, it is pretty easy to see that gardening or farming in general may be a pretty tasking job if you happen to live in that region. However, it doesn’t mean that planting will be impossible, just that it will take a little more love and care from you for the plants to live and thrive.

You will realize that farming in such a place means that you should be conversant with mulching around trees because they will need plenty of winter mulch. Learning proper ways of watering a tree will also come in handy.

Lastly, greenhouse farming will have to be your close ally, because the plants will need to be sheltered away from the extreme cold. The average temperatures that prevail in USDA Hardiness Zone 1 or Alaska are from -60 to about -50 degrees (F).13

USDA Zone 2

There is only a small difference between planting Zones 1 and 2. Here, the temperatures are still low, but at least not as low as those in Zone 1, which happens to have the most extreme average temperatures.

Alaska still features in this category of course and is actually the only state that fits the description.

Cutout map of US and other territories with states and counties highlighted to show all areas within USDA Zone 2 and their prevailing temperatures.

Zone 2 lies in the interior parts of Alaska, but at least the winters are not that unforgiving. If you live in this zone, you will also have to take some measures into your own hands because the weather may not be favorable all the time for outdoor planting.

One piece of advice you are likely to come across is that you are supposed to start your seeds indoors first.

Given that you will be planting in a sort of tundra-like environment, it may be the only way to go to ensure that the plants survive the chill.

Such regions are familiar with drought for the better part of the year and actually, the growing season tends to last but a few months. It is expected given that the average weather ranges between -50 to about -40 degrees (F).

USDA Zone 3

The higher the USDA zone category, the warmer the region gets. Zones 1 and 2 are the lowest and the coldest places to farm in but there is more promise for planting Zone 3 and the rest.

You actually have a better shot with more plants if you live in these regions. There are still chilly conditions here, but nothing compared to that in Zone 1.

Cutout map of US and other territories with states and counties highlighted to show all areas within USDA Zone 3 and their prevailing temperatures.

This is where the northern states lie or the high-altitude regions in the country. Some regions in Alaska will also feature in this zone, but there are more states joining in from the north.

For instance, Colorado, Montana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Wyoming feature in the zone.

But still, there are states that are a little bit warmer, that lie in hardiness zone 3b, like Idaho, Maine, New York, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Vermont.8 Of course, there are more planting options in Zone 3 because many plants can brave the cold only to that point.

You can also expect strong winds and lower temperatures in the soil. The temperatures that you are likely going to experience in this zone are from -40 to -30 degrees (F).

USDA Zone 4

It now starts to get a little bit warmer when you go down to USDA Zone 4. There is a wider range of states that are included in this planting zone, which features the coastal parts of Alaska again, all the way to the regions of higher elevation in the west.

If you were wondering what plant zone is Michigan in, this is it.

Cutout map of US and other territories with states and counties highlighted to show all areas within USDA Zone 4 and their prevailing temperatures.

Other areas that fall in this category include Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Nebraska, New York, New Hampshire, North and South Dakota, Vermont, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Washington. In addition, there are more states on the list, but it is just that they only fall in Hardiness Zones 4b; they are namely, Iowa, Arizona, Oregon, and New Mexico.14

The prevailing conditions in this zone are not as bad as the ones above, but regardless, you will still have to bear with relatively shorter growing seasons. You will also start your seeds indoors most of the time because the temperatures usually range between -30 to -20 degrees (F).

USDA Zone 5

Most of the states that have been mentioned in the previous zones are also part of Zone 5, although there are new entries like California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Kansas. Like the ones before it, the growing season in this region is also short in comparison, although there are more forgiving winters and slightly milder summers.

Cutout map of US and other territories with states and counties highlighted to show all areas within USDA Zone 5 and their prevailing temperatures.

You also have a significant role to play to ensure that whatever you grow is able to thrive. You may have to plant in raised beds to sort of help keep the soil warmer.
The minimum temperatures that you can expect from this zone range from -20 all the way to -10 degrees (F).

USDA Zone 6

The conditions keep getting more and more bearable with each zone and Zone 6 is one of the ones where you can actually say that you are enjoying a wide selection of trees and plants to grow. What many love about living in this zone is the fact that the winters are not extremely cold and the summers are not scorching, it is just a great balance between both.

Cutout map of US and other territories with states and counties highlighted to show all areas within USDA Zone 6 and their prevailing temperatures.

However, there are some cases where you will still have to start your seeds indoors because of course winters are cold. But on the positive, at least in this case, you will have fun tending to your plants because the growing season will be a little bit longer and even more productive because it will start from the start of spring all the way to the start of fall.

Generally, the temperatures will range between -10 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

USDA Zone 7

A couple more states join the list of those that lie in planting Zone 7. If you live in Delaware, Idaho, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Texas, and Rhode Island, you will be glad to know that there are even more plant options for you to experiment with.

The states above plus the additional ones are able to grow in fairly more comfortable conditions given that the climates are more mild.

Cutout map of US and other territories with states and counties highlighted to show all areas within USDA Zone 7 and their prevailing temperatures.

There is also the huge advantage of having a much longer growing period of as much as 8 months. Planting Zones 7 are actually the areas that are capable of receiving minimum temperatures of 0- 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

USDA Zone 8

Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma are a part of the list of states that lie in planting Zone 8 and they also boast of longer growing seasons. However, one feature that stands out more and is the main difference when it comes to this zone is the fact that the summers are slightly hotter, and in turn, the winters are also more friendly.

Cutout map of US and other territories with states and counties highlighted to show all areas within USDA Zone 8 and their prevailing temperatures.

If you are looking forward to planting low-maintenance evergreen shrubs or trees, you are in luck if you live within this zone. This means that if you are wondering how many types of flowers are there and can be found in this zone, there is an even longer list of stunning perennial flowers that you can also try growing.

One thing is that you will have to water your plants a little bit more to battle the scorching summers.15 These regions have temperatures ranging anywhere between 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

USDA Zone 9

It gets hotter and hotter at this point. It makes a lot of sense because the states that are known for hot summers lie in this planting zone. Imagine the likes of Nevada, Hawaii, Texas, Arizona, and Florida.3

These are places where the temperatures range between 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit. You will not have a problem with freezing cold winters if you live in this zone but that also becomes a problem in some cases.

Cutout map of US and other territories with states and counties highlighted to show all areas within USDA Zone 9 and their prevailing temperatures.

For one, there are some plants that rely on the chilly temperatures so as to undergo a dormancy period, but that becomes an issue if the winters are not that cold; you want to avoid such types because they may fail to bloom. You should also be on the lookout for scorching summers since you will be forced to provide a kind of shade for your plants and increase the frequency of watering.

USDA Zone 10

If you thought the regions in Zone 9 were hot, you haven’t met planting Zone 10 yet. If you live in one of these locations, you probably know that they are characterized by generally warm temperatures and high humidity for the most part of the year.

If you are planning to farm in this zone, you should be very ready for heavy care and maintenance.

Cutout map of US and other territories with states and counties highlighted to show all areas within USDA Zone 10 and their prevailing temperatures.

An advantage is the fact that you will be able to grow herbs and your favorite vegetables for your kitchen all through the year. On the contrary, you will have to spend a lot of time planning the perfect time for planting in accordance with the level of heat tolerance of your crops.

Anything growing in this zone should be able to withstand 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

USDA Zone 11

Seeing how hot states like California and Florida can get, it doesn’t come as a surprise that they are found in USDA zones 11. Basically, the regions falling in this description feature extremely wark summers and winters that are more mellowed out.

One glaring characteristic is that there is literally no frost in these places.

Cutout map of US and other territories with states and counties highlighted to show all areas within USDA Zone 11 and their prevailing temperatures.

While other plants growing in the northern parts of the country constantly have to affirm that they are cold-hardy, the case is very different for Zone 11 plants. Instead, here, the temperatures usually range from 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Therefore, the plants here are not expected to be undergoing dormancy or overwintering.

USDA Zone 12

Imagine extremely high heat and prolonged drought conditions, that is exactly what USDA Zone 12 offers. It might get a little tricky for you as a gardener to work around that because many plants will find that a little unbearable and it gets worse because the growing season is also too short.

So, where are these regions that lie in Zone 12?

Cutout map of US and other territories with states and counties highlighted to show all areas within USDA Zone 12 and their prevailing temperatures.

It is quite interesting that within the entire continental part of the US, no single state lies in this region.

It is only some parts of the Puerto Rican and Hawaiian islands that fit the description. These are the places that experience temperatures as high as 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

USDA Zone 13

USDA Zone 13 is the final planting zone and obviously, as you can tell, the hottest and most humid region in the entire country.16 Some parts of Hawaii and Puerto Rico are in this zone,7 again because there is only a slight difference between zones 12 and 13.

One thing that you will notice is that this region features some of the most exotic plant species.

Cutout map of US and other territories with states and counties highlighted to show all areas within USDA Zone 13 and their prevailing temperatures.

Whatever is able to grow in this region is expected to be very comfortable with the temperatures that can soar to as much as 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainfall is also pretty scarce in this region and farmers have to find a way to deal with the heat they will have to bring out the shade nets, set up irrigation methods and be patient until it is a little cooler before they plant.

How To Find Plant Zone by Zip Code

One pressing question that new gardeners or farmers will likely ask is, why are planting zones USA important? Do you really have to learn about them, or even know where your state lies?

It may seem less complicated to just pick your favorite tree or plant and get right to the planting, care, and maintenance but that would be risky.

The hardiness zones and weather, in general, are there for a reason, to make sure that gardeners make the right choice when determining what they grow.17 If you do proper research, you will realize that there are certain plants that will never survive in your location.

And what does that do? It saves you quite a lot of time and effort that you would have otherwise spent on growing a tree that will constantly be under pressure to grow, or even fail to survive in the long run.

If you take your precious time to learn more about planting zones, it will be way easier to dedicate all your time, effort, and investments exclusively to plants that you are sure have the best shot at surviving considering the prevailing conditions of your region.

The great news is that the experts already did the donkey work for you. They already determined the various planting zones and developed a map to show you your exact hardiness zone, for your state and city.

The map is even color-coded to make it visually easier for you to figure out where you are and what you should be doing. All thanks to interactive applications online you will be able to figure out where you fall.

All that you have to do is enter the name of your state and your zip code, and you should determine which USDA Hardiness Zone you lie in. It doesn’t have to be guesswork.

By the end of it all, you should have a clear answer that will make your choice of tree or plant to grow all the easier, because this time, you will only be picking the options that have a higher success rate; farming will never be easy for you.

There are even more elaborate tools that help you understand much more about your region. For instance, you may find a tool that will help you determine the plant zone by zip code and even one that tells you the expected last and first frost dates to help you further plan how to go about planting.

However, it is very important to know that these planting zones are not exactly absolute rules that you have to follow to the letter. They are only there to serve as a guide to nudge you in the right direction when choosing what to plant and how to care for your tree or plant.

There are cases where you will not follow the rules, say if you are currently living in a microclimate.

Take, for instance, those people living in tiny ‘pockets”, maybe it is an elevated area or there is a large body of water nearby, or even when the region is heavily urbanized. There will be a few exceptions in those cases because of course, the temperature levels can either go higher or lower than that of the neighboring regions.2

Planting Zones by State (According to the Map of the United States)

The hardiness zones map is a representation of the various planting zones by state in the US. Of course, you will find two or more zones within a single state and that is why you need to know what to expect in regards to your own current location.

What is the scale based on where you live? It is only that way you will better understand which plants are more suitable for you to grow.

Looking closely at the map of the United States, you will realize that Zones 9 all the way to planting Zones 11 are all found in the southernmost parts of the country, while Zones 1 to 3 are in the northern regions. That literally means that the central coastal areas are more than likely going to lie within zones 6, 7, and 8.

It is only the interior parts of the country that tend to feature a little bit more inconsistent temperatures, that is the areas lying in zones 4 and 5.


US StatePlanting Zone
New Hampshire3b-6a
New Jersey6a-7b
New Mexico5b-9a
New York3b-7b
North Carolina5b-8b
North Dakota3a-4b
Rhode Island6a-7a
South Carolina7a-9a
South Dakota3b-5b
West Virginia5a-7a

How To Use Your Growing Zones

The information about planting zones in your regions will come in handy. Professionals will tell you that that is an excellent checklist to help zero in on some gardening decisions, like the types of trees to plant.

Anyone working in the agricultural sector will also emphasize how important the USDA hardiness zones map is. Plants are all about the climate, if something is off, it will definitely affect their growth; that is why you are supposed to be very picky before settling for a particular thing for planting.

Landscapers, farmers, gardeners, and many other people will always refer to the planting zones and so should you. The whole concept behind the creation of the zones was to match the plants and the climates that they are able to comfortably grow in.

Here are a few things that you should note when taking the hardiness zones into consideration.

Perennials vs Annuals

If you are a gardener who is very interested in planting only perennial crops, you will find the hardiness zone map very important. This is why, you see, if you are planting perennial plants, you are supposed to pick the types that are able to thrive for not just one season, but for the entire year.

Perennials are basically woody or non-woody plants that usually live for more than one season.

Graphics of perennials vs annual plants showing the difference of plants based on their life cycles.

They can opt to go dormant when winter comes and then come right back when it passes, making them able to live for two years or even more. On the other hand, the annuals only survive for a single growing season and don’t return after that.

What that means is, that the perennial tree or plant should be comfortable to live through winter, summer, and virtually all the other seasons in the year.

Therefore, it goes without saying that you are supposed to check your hardiness zone and confirm whether your plant will be able to survive the prevailing high or low temperatures. If you want nothing but the best outcome, which of course you do, you want to choose the perennials and annuals according to their survival capabilities.18

If you don’t factor the planting zones in, you will have to deal with winter damage, and that is the last thing that you want after caring for your plant the entire time. Apart from that, taking plants outside their ‘comfort zone’ also tends to lead to stunted growth, delays or failures in flowering and fruiting, and so many other issues.

So, what should you do? One trick that seems to work perfectly for gardeners is focusing solely on the native species.

The native varieties are those that have lived in the region for centuries or even millennia, and that means that they have over the years adapted to the climatic conditions of the area. They grow naturally and comfortably, and that should tell you that they will be very happy when you plant them in their natural habitat.

But still, you may also have your heart set on an annual plant. In comparison to perennials, annuals only live for a particular growing season, and that should tell you a lot.

In this case, there will not be that much focus on the climate, or planting zone, instead, as a gardener, only one question makes sense.

How long will the growing season last? The frost dates will be the deciding factors here and if you want to make the most out of that, you will be safer choosing only compatible plants and ensure that you have at least some ample time to enjoy your plant before it dies back.

Effect of the Planting Zones on Farming Practices

If you have planted anything before, you already know by now how demanding it can all be, of not only your money but also your time and effort. That is why you want everything to go perfectly.

It would be such a shame if all that would go to waste just because you picked the wrong type of plant that cannot grow in your region, that is according to the planting zone.

Starting from a seed is particularly more involving and you want to at least have the confidence that you will be able to see it all through. Even starting with seedlings means that you have to invest your money, that is why the decision should be careful.

As soon as you know what your planting zone is, the type of plants that will do well in the area, and how long the planting season is going to be, you will be on the right track to success.6

Take this instance for example, you live in Alaska, which is mostly lying in planting zones 1, 2, and 3, which you already know are characterized by cold winters. If you are planning to plant virtually anything, you must know that the growing season in the region tends to last about 3 months and that there are fewer options when it comes to the types of trees that you may plant there.

On the contrary, if you live in other zones, say Zones 7 all through 10, you will notice that you will have more plants at your disposal because many species are comfortable growing where the climatic conditions are more favorable. Here is where things like planting schedules come in, telling when to plant in accordance with where you live.

What To Plant in Each USDA Hardiness Zone

Basically, the entire point of learning about USDA Hardiness zones is to determine what are the best zones for growing plants and the zones for planting trees. You want nothing but success in your planting and you can do that by first making the decision on what to plant.

Below is a breakdown of some of the plants and trees that you will be able to successfully plant based on your planting zone.

Plants for Zone 1

It may come as a shock but, when you search online to find out what state has the most trees, Alaska will more than likely pop up. It is incredible that it is the coldest yet has the most number of trees, but maybe that is because of the tundra climate and just how much the native trees have already gotten accustomed to the prevailing conditions.

  • Vegetables for Zone 1: As long as you start them indoors or in greenhouses and only consider the cold hardiest of the bunch, vegetable farming in Zone 1 will be more manageable.10
    • Kale
    • Cabbage
    • Potatoes
    • Beans
    • Broccoli
    • Lettuce
    • Tomatoes
    • Spinach
  • Fruits for Zone 1: Fruits are tricky to grow in such cold climates, although the following have proven to be able to survive.
    • Haskap
    • Chokecherry
    • End Apple
  • Herbs for Zone 1: You are in luck because there are so many herbs that will survive the tundra when grown as annuals.20
    • Mint
    • Catnip
    • Rosemary
    • Cilantro
    • Oregano
    • Dill
    • Basil
    • Fennel
    • Thyme
  • Flowers for Zone 1: Did you know that there are some types of flowers that don’t mind the chilly conditions?
    • Sunflower
    • Yarrow
    • Lily of the Valley
    • Arrowhead
    • Goldenrod
  • Trees for Zone 1
    • Peachleaf willow
    • Box elder
    • Lombardy Poplar
    • Green Ash
    • Common Hackberry

Plants for Zone 2

There is but a small difference between the USDA hardiness zones 1 and 2. Alaska features in this zone again and whatever you grow, just like in Zone 1, has got to be cold and drought-resistant and for the best results, you should consider annuals instead.

  • Vegetables for Zone 2: These must have a very short growing season or should be annual.
    • Carrots
    • Onions
    • Parsnips
    • Beets
    • Ginseng
    • Swiss Chard
  • Fruits for Zone 2
    • Fofonoff Plum
    • Parkland Apple
    • Korean Pine
    • Brookgold Plum
  • Herbs for Zone 2
    • Juniper
    • Hyssop
    • Ginseng
  • Flowers for Zone 2
    • Poppy
    • Primrose
    • Bleeding Heart
    • Violet
  • Trees for Zone 2
    • Golden Willow
    • White Poplar
    • Colorado Blue Spruce
    • Scotch Pine
    • Black Cottonwood

Plants for Zone 3

Alaska makes up most of the planting Zone 3, which is alongside other northern and high-altitude areas of the US. The trick that everybody should learn is to start planting indoors and later transplanting outside.

  • Vegetables for Zone 3
    • Celery
    • Cucumber
    • Asparagus
    • Squash
  • Fruits for Zone 3
    • Goodland Apple
    • Toka Plum
    • Sweet Sixteen Apple
    • Cupid Cherry
    • Early Gold Pear
    • Evans Cherry
    • Waneta Plum
  • Herbs for Zone 3
    • Garlic
    • Catnip
    • Caraway
    • Peppermint
    • Parsley
    • Horseradish
  • Flowers for Zone 3
    • Aster
    • Salvia
    • Alpine Rockcress
    • Blanket Flower
    • Wallflower
    • Spurge
    • Virginia Bluebells
  • Trees for Zone 3
    • Oak Tree
    • Maple Tree
    • Eastern White Pine
    • Norway Spruce
    • Paper Birch
    • Sour Cherry
    • European Dogwood
    • Honeylocust

Plants for Zone 4

Imagine the coastal parts of Alaska and the northern and mountainous regions of the US.11 At least here, the conditions are a little more favorable for more plants to add to the list.
Here is where farmers have to be very intentional with green housing and mulching.

  • Vegetables for Zone 4
    • Melons
    • Eggplant
    • Pumpkins
    • Okra
  • Fruits for Zone 4
    • Butternut
    • Nova Pear
    • Alderman Plum
    • Railroad Apple
    • Trent Apple
    • Buartnut
  • Herbs for Zone 4
    • Thyme
    • Bee balm
    • Lamon Balm
    • Garden Sage Tree
    • Angelica
  • Flowers for Zone 4
    • Iris
    • Daylily
    • Phlox
    • Coneflower
    • Hostas
  • Trees for Zone 4

Plants for Zone 5

One thing to note about planting Zone 5 is the fact that the winters are not really that cold. Although the growing season is rather short, gardeners are free to use cold frames and start with seedlings instead of seeds.

They also sort of use raised beds and only pay more attention to the fastest growing and maturing plants.

  • Vegetables for Zone 5
    • Spinach
    • Kale
    • Radishes
    • Lettuce
  • Fruits for Zone 5
    • Pink Lady Apple
    • Superior Plum
    • Honeycrisp Apple
    • Snow Beauty Peach
    • Native Pawpaw Tree
  • Herbs for Zone 5
    • Mint (Hybrid)
    • Calamint
  • Flowers for Zone 5
    • Black-eyed Susan
    • Russian Sage
    • Baptisia
    • Campanula
  • Trees for Zone 5
    • Emerald Gree Arborvitae
    • Cherry tree
    • Japanese Maple
    • Flowering Dogwood
    • Austrian Pine

Plants for Zone 6

Planting Zone 6 covers a somewhat large part of the US and it is famously known to have a more mild climate than the other zones above.21 There are so many plants for your selection here, whether you are gardening or planting ornamental trees.

  • Vegetables for Zone 6
    • Winter Squash
    • Butter Lettuce
    • Bush Beans
    • Long season Melons
  • Fruits for Zone 6 (mainly peaches)
    • Nectar
    • Madison
    • Loring
    • Jefferson
    • Red Globe
  • Herbs for Zone 6
    • Oregano
    • Dill
    • Coriander
    • Borage
  • Flowers for Zone 6
  • Trees for Zone 6
    • Leyland Cypress
    • Atlas Cedar
    • Red Dogwood
    • Paperback Cherry
    • Amur Maple
    • Paperbark Birch (a tree with peeling bark)

Plants for Zone 7

There are like 15 US states that are a part of planting Zone 7. At least here, there are way more planting options at your disposal simply because there is a sort of wide range of climatic conditions.

  • Vegetables for Zone 7
    • Turnips
    • Hot Peppers
    • Sweet Peppers
    • Arugula
    • Artichoke
  • Fruits for Zone 7
    • Fuji Apple
    • Bing Cherry
    • Contender Peach
    • Fuyu Persimmon Tree
    • Blue Java Banana
    • Granny Smith Apple
    • Parker Pear
    • Turkey Fig
    • Papaya Tree
    • Stella Cherry
  • Herbs for Zone 7
    • Sage
    • Feverfew
    • Rue
    • Tarragon
    • Marjoram
  • Flowers for Zone 7
  • Trees for Zone 7

Plants for Zone 8

Planting Zone 8 is widely regarded as a warm zone for a huge section of the country. The summers and winters are more friendly which basically gives you a wider range of plants to choose from.

Plants for Zone 9

Lucky are you if you happen to live in states lying in planting Zone 9. Simply put, this is one chance that you get to have an all-year-round chance for planting.

The only problem though is the fact that there is excessive heat, and that explains why planting usually starts earlier in the year.

  • Vegetables for Zone 9
    • Cabbage
    • Cauliflower
    • Broccoli
    • Brussel Sprouts
    • Spinach
  • Fruits for Zone 9
  • Herbs for Zone 9
    • Mint
    • Coriander
    • Chives
    • Basil
    • Marjoram
    • Bay Laurel
  • Flowers for Zone 9
    • Black-eyed Susan
    • Hydrangea
    • Wisteria
    • Dahlia
    • Zinnia
  • Trees for Zone 9

Plants For Zone 10

The farmers in this region have one advantage, they never have to really worry about freezing winters or frost dates.5 But still, there is one issue which is the excessive heat that makes it challenging to carry out farming for some parts of the year.

  • Vegetables for Zone 10
    • Jicama
    • Tomatillos
    • Malabar Spinach
  • Fruits for Zone 10
  • Herbs for Zone 10
    • Ginger
    • Miracle Fruit
    • Galangal
  • Flowers for Zone 10
    • African Lily
    • Geraniums
    • Agave
    • Peruvian Lily
  • Trees for Zone 10

Plants for Zone 11

Completely forget about cold hardiness and frost dates when you live in planting Zone 11. The only issue in this case is heat tolerance, which plants will be able to withstand the heat?22

  • Vegetables for Zone 11
    • Cabbage
    • Carrots
    • Swiss Chard
    • Beets
    • Radishes
    • Sweet Peas
  • Fruits for Zone 11
    • Mango
    • Seagrape
    • Jaboticaba
    • Macadamia
  • Herbs for Zone 11
    • Lemongrass
    • Chives
    • Basil
    • Thyme
  • Flowers for Zone 11
    • Bougainvillea
    • Begonias
    • Impatiens
  • Trees for Zone 11
    • Desert Ironwood
    • Paurotis Palm
    • Sweet Acacia
    • Windmill Palm

Plants for Zone 12 and 13

These two planting zones are not even found in the continental part of the US, only in the islands of Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Any exotic or tropical plant that you find here, rest assured that it is able to handle the extreme heat experienced in these zones.

  • Vegetables for Zone 12 and 13
    • Eggplant
    • Bush Beans
    • Tomatoes
    • Hot peppers
  • Fruits for Zones 12 and 13
    • Ackee
    • Bignay
    • African Breadfruit
    • Imbe
    • Almond
    • Alupag
  • Herbs for Zones 12 and 13
    • Cilantro
    • Rosemary
    • Savory
    • Borage
  • Flowers for Zones 12 and 13 (Plant families)
    • Heliconia
    • Cannaceae
    • Musaceae
    • Lowiaceae
  • Trees for Zones 12 and 13

When Should You Plant in Various USDA Zones?

Now that you are fully aware of the various planting zones in the country, and where your state falls, the next step is to take a look at when it is the right time to plant, that is according to the zone. The zone not only determines which type of plant to go for, but it also helps you identify the best planting times, and sometimes even how you are going to go about with the planting.

You may have to start indoors, plant in containers, provide shade, or cover the tree, all depending on the climatic conditions. Basically, if you want to be a successful gardener, there is one thing that you should learn about, the last frost date.

Literally, this is the very last day on the calendar that you can expect any frost.9 There are rulebooks that farmers have to follow according to the frost dates.

For starters, if you are planting a tree in a pot, you have to keep it indoors, waiting until the danger of frost has gone by, sometimes it can even take a whole year before you are able to take your plants outside.25 On the other hand, if you are dealing with the cold hardy plant types that start from seeds, you will be able to plant them before the final frost date; you should also know your first frost date based on your planting zone.

How is that even important, you may ask. Well, there are some plants that have to get out of the ground before the start of frost like daffodils and tulips.

This goes to show just how important it is to pay attention to these frost dates because literally, your plants’ life depends on it. This is actually why you need to know the last and first frost dates as per your hardiness zone.26

Graphics of frost dates by zone showing the cutout map of the US state and other territories with growing zones information based on the estimated dates that the first and last frost dates fall.

Check out the table below to see the estimated first and last frost dates in each zone:28

Planting ZoneFirst Frost DateLast Frost Date
USDA Zone 125-31 August22 May-4 June
USDA Zone 21-8 September15-22 May
USDA Zone 38-15 September1-16 May
USDA Zone 421 September-7 October24 April-12 May
USDA Zone 513-21 October7- 30 April
USDA Zone 617-31 October1-21 April
USDA Zone 715 October-15 November15 March-14 April
USDA Zone 87-28 November13-28 March
USDA Zone 925 November-13 December6-28 February
USDA Zone 1013-31 December15-31 January
USDA Zone 11No frost datesNo frost dates
USDA Zone 12No frost datesNo frost dates
USDA Zone 13No frost datesNo frost dates

Why Are Planting Zones Important?

You may be wondering what do zones mean for plants. The USDA planting zones, or any other hardiness zone all over the world are there to serve as guides, telling you what types of plants are going to thrive in your region and which ones you would rather not spend your time or money on.

They sort of give you the reassurance that there are certain plants that will survive the prevailing temperatures in your state or region.

What’s Next Now That You Know the Plant Hardiness Zones?

The entire concept of plant hardiness zones can be a tad bit overwhelming, especially if you are a beginner just trying to learn the ropes of gardening or farming. But not to worry, because this next part tells you what exactly to do with that bit of information that you have learned about planting zones.23

Avoid Planting Some Plants

It doesn’t matter whether you are planning to grow privacy trees or are particularly keen on the various types of roses available, if they are not ideal for your USDA zone, it is best to avoid investing in them. You will realize that the details about the hardiness are always written on seed packets or on seedlings, sort of advising you on whether planting will be a good idea or not.

It is understandable that it would be a bummer if you were not able to plant your favorite fruits or vegetables. But still, it will not be worth it as long as it will not grow the way you want and truthfully, you should save your time, money, and effort and spend all that on other plants that you have a better shot with.

Go for Annuals Instead of Perennials

If you live in the warmer parts of the country, you will be excited to know that you have a shot at planting some annual plants just like perennials, allowing them to survive all through the year. Take kale, for instance, which is able to grow in virtually all zones, now imagine having a constant vegetable supply all through the year.

Switch Your Planting Methods

As a gardener, one invaluable skill that you should always have is easy adaptability. You have to be able to easily alter your farming in accordance with the prevailing temperatures and climatic conditions.

For instance, those in the lower zones have to start planting indoors or in greenhouses to avoid extremely cold temperatures. You don’t even have to be living in zones 1-3 for that, sometimes winters are too severe, forcing you to adjust your planting methods.4

Plant According to the Frost Dates

One thing to note; the fact that a plant will be able to survive in your planting zone, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can plant it whenever you want. You want to pay close attention to the first and last frost dates and plant when the conditions are more favorable.

What Are the Limitations of the Temperature Zones?

The USDA hardiness zones may have been in use for a very long time now but experts are concerned that it may have a few loopholes. It is still an effective way to help you know what to grow and when but there are other factors that should also come to play, not just the temperature zones of a specific region, to dictate farming, that is how the professionals argue it out.

Basically, the plant zones are all based entirely on the average annual temperatures of a region, but what about the overall climatic conditions? There are many more considerations to make before determining the survival rates of a plant.

There are other varying conditions like frost dates, snow cover, the frequency of rainfall, the temperatures that are expected in the summer, the intensity of the sun, and so many more conditions.

Therefore, if you are a gardener, you will realize that you cannot really fully rely on the hardiness zones to determine whether your plant will succeed. You will have to factor in other things, like the type of soil and how well draining it is, its tilt in regards to the sun, the intensity of the wind, and other key factors.24

What Are the Limitations of Planting Zones?

There is only one problem when it comes to the USDA Hardiness zones, the fact that it doesn’t guarantee the success rate of plants.

Apart from the annual temperatures on average, there are other factors that will help determine how comfortable your plant will be, like sunlight and rainfall access and other weather conditions. The planting zones alone are not enough to consider, you will have to account for other aspects.

What Other Factors Will Influence Your Gardening?

If the pistachio tree is your favorite to grow, you will start by learning how do pistachios grow. No matter what you want to plant, you will be on the safer side, knowing what other factors will affect your tree or plant, that is, apart from the USDA hardiness zones.

Graphics of other factors that influence gardening which include access to sunlight, availability of water, and soil quality.

The planting zone alone is not really enough to determine your rate of success, there are more factors that will come into play.27

The Quality of the Soil

The type of soil that you are using for planting makes all the difference. Is it fertile? What is its pH level? Is it the right type according to whatever you want to grow? What are its drainage qualities?

All these are the questions that you need to ask before carrying out any planting. If the USDA zone is perfect for your tree or plant, but the soil is not suitable, it will not make a lot of difference.

Is Water Available?

All plant and animal matter require water to survive, it is just that some will need it more than others according to the prevailing conditions. The plants living in the warmest and most humid temperatures will need more water to survive because of the high evaporation rate. In the same light, your plants will tend to require more watering during the scorching summer months in comparison to winter.

Access to Sunlight

Water and sunlight are the basic needs of plants. No matter your planting zone, you will have to provide some hours of sunlight or at least use a grow light indoors to serve as a supplement what you need is about six hours of sunlight every single day, but of course, that may become a problem in some cases.

If that cannot work for your home, you may want to consider planting in containers. At least this way, it will be possible to move the plant around for more access to sunlight.

It is very important for indoor planting because you will have to move your plant around the room and near windows where there are sun rays.

Are you thinking about farming in the near future? Do you want to be able to grow some of your favorite trees in your yard?

There is one place to start, know your hardiness zone first. The USDA hardiness zones are an elaborate way that the country is divided according to the average annual temperatures.

There are 13 zones in total, with a 10-degree difference between each, and the higher you go up the scale, the hotter your region is expected to be.

That explains why Alaska ranges between zones 1-3 while Hawaii in is zones 10-13, the main and only difference is the temperature levels.

Why are these zones important, you may ask. There are certain plants that cannot survive in certain zones, while others thrive there.

Basically, that is why you should carefully research what your planting zones are to know which types of trees and plants are suitable for planting.

If you ignore this, you may actually end up having a very hard time getting the plant to adjust to temperatures and conditions that are unfavorable.

The result?

Stunted growth, or even death in extreme cases. This is why it is crucial to start by learning your planting zones; it will save you a lot of time and money and increase your chances of success.

Read More About Planting Zones


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