Gardening is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, take part in a therapeutic hobby, and even save money on your grocery bill. However, unless you have a temperature-controlled greenhouse, it's essential to understand the United States Department of Agriculture's gardening zones so that whatever you plant in your garden will prosper.
Knowing the difference in gardening zones will help you to determine which plants, flowers, and trees will thrive depending on your location. It also guides you on when to plant, which can prevent you from making mistakes like planting too early or late in the year. We spoke with gardening experts to provide you with the best USDA plant hardiness zone guide so you can garden successfully season after season.
9 Gardening Tips for Beginners
What are Plant Hardiness Zones?
"As designated by the USDA, plant hardiness zones are geographical areas that indicate the variability of climate conditions that are conducive to the growth and survival of various plant types," Amber Noyes, horticulture and gardening expert and executive editor of Gardening Chores, explains.
The United States Department for Agriculture institution created the USDA Gardening Zones to help farmers understand and choose which crops they can grow, according to the climate of their region. However, Noyes explains that this system has become a key tool for home gardeners as well.
To create the zones, the USDA partitioned the country into 13 distinctive zones. (However, in the contiguous U.S., the zones typically fall within the range of 3 to 10, Noyes explains.) "These zones are differentiated based on the average minimum temperature during winter," Noyes says. "This means that you can have milder seasons, but also exceptionally cold ones. But still, it gives you a clear idea of which plant you can grow in which area."
The zones go from the coldest to the hottest regions, starting at Zone 1, which is exclusive to Alaska, and ending with Zone 13, which is exclusive to Hawaii and Puerto Rico. "Each zone has a range of 10 degrees," Jen McDonald, a certified organic gardener and co-founder of Garden Girls, says. "Within each zone, there is an additional classification, either a or b, which details temperature increments within 5 degrees. This is helpful information to optimize plant selection."
Why it's Essential to Plant According to Your Gardening Zone
Planting according to your gardening zone will give your plants a much better chance at flourishing, since they'll be growing in the conditions most suitable to their needs.
"Once a gardener knows which zone they live in, we encourage them to begin selecting native plants indigenous to their growing region," McDonald says. "The reason is the plants have already adapted to a specific climate and do not require a ton of care. Native plants are hearty and will not need fertilizer or extra water once established."
USDA Gardening Zone Limitations and Considerations
While the USDA zones can be very helpful in determining when and what to plant to avoid potentially damaging frosts, there are some limitations. "The USDA zones don't indicate how hot it gets in summer, and some plants don't tolerate high temperatures," Noyes explains. "For this, you will need to know what your heat zone is, especially if you live in a region where summers are very hot."
Another thing the zones don't indicate, she says, is the precipitation level for the different regions. Since there can be both hot and dry climates within the same zones, this will also affect which plants will do well in your area.
"It is important to understand the growing zone first and then research which plants will perform best for the current season," McDonald says. "Planting broccoli in the summer in Zone 9 will not work. It's simply too hot. So, understand your growing zone first, then research which vegetables, herbs, and flowers grow best in each season."
Planting Guide for the USDA Gardening Zones
The zone you reside in will determine what you can plant and when. "There are thirteen zones, and they get warmer and warmer as we go up the scale," Noyes explains. "They range from climates that we can call arctic, cold, temperate, mild, subtropical, and tropical."
Since states can contain various zones and subzones, use the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to search and find out which zone you're in based on your zip code.
Keep reading for a breakdown of the various USDA Gardening Zones and their frost dates. Plus, learn which types of plants Noyes and McDonald recommend to grow in your garden for each zone.
USDA Zone 1: Temperatures between -60 and -50 Degrees Fahrenheit
"Zone 1 is considered the most frigid and difficult gardening zone in the United States," Noyes says. "This zone is typified by its extremely low average temperatures, ranging between negative 60 and negative 50 degrees. It is primarily located in the state of Alaska."
Since the outdoor growing season is relatively short, some opt for growing in greenhouses or indoors. The average last day of frost for Zone 1 is between May 22 and June 4, and the average first day of frost is between August 25-31.
However, there are a few plant options that can live even in this harsh gardening zone:
- Brussels sprouts
USDA Zone 2: Temperatures between -50 and -40 Degrees Fahrenheit
"Similar to Zone 1, Zone 2 is predominantly situated in Alaska as well," Noyes says. Temperatures are a little less frigid, but not by much. So, you will still need plants and vegetables that can withstand cold temperatures.
Remember, you can always start seeds indoors if you live in areas that have shorter growing seasons. That way, you have a head start before planting them outdoors. The average last day of frost for Zone 2 is between May 15-22, and the average first day of frost is between September 1-8.
You can plant a variety of plants and vegetables in this zone. Remember, if they are hearty enough for Zone 1, you can also plant them if you reside in Zone 2. So, in addition to the list above, you can also plant:
- Love-Lies-Bleeding Plant
- Blue-Bead Lily
- Lily of the Valley
- Black and White Minstrels
- Viola blanda
- Viola palustris
10 Fruits and Vegetables You Can Grow Indoors
USDA Zone 3: Temperatures between -40 and -30 Degrees Fahrenheit
Zone 3 also includes portions of Alaska but then extends deeper into the contiguous United States. This zone covers Wyoming, Wisconsin, New York, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and small parts of Vermont and Colorado. These states still have harsh winters, and the length of time between frost dates only varies by a couple of weeks.
For this zone, the average last day of frost is between May 1-16, and the average first day of frost is between September 8-15. Despite frosty winters, there is a vast amount of beautiful flowers and yummy vegetables you can grow if you live in this zone, such as:
USDA Zone 4: Temperatures between -30 and -20 Degrees Fahrenheit
You will notice that Alaska is included in several USDA Gardening Zones, including Zone 4. So, the part of the state you reside in can determine what you can implement in your garden. Zone 4 also primarily covers the northern states in the U.S., including Montana, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Ohio, Vermont, and Maine.
You get a little extra time to plant in this zone. The average last day of frost is between April 24 and May 12, and the average first day of frost is between September 21 and October 7.
Try adding a mix of these alluring flowers and vegetation to your garden:
- Trumpet Gentian
- Coral Bells
- Lemon balm
USDA Zone 5: Temperatures between-20 and -10 Degrees Fahrenheit
When you look at the USDA Gardening Zones on the map, you will notice that Zone 5 predominantly spans across states such as Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. It also includes certain areas of Alaska's coast and regions of New England. That's quite a bit of range as far as locations go.
This zone's last day of frost is between April 7-30, and the first day of frost is between October 13-21. As you get into warmer climates, your growing seasons get longer, which means you have more choices for various types of plants because they have time to grow before the weather gets too cold.
Start your garden with some of these fabulous flowers, hearty herbs, and a variety of vegetables:
- Yucca Filamentosa
USDA Zone 6: Temperatures between -10 and 0 Degrees Fahrenheit
"Zone 6 is often regarded as one of the broadest-reaching zones across the United States," Noyes says. "It initiates in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, encompassing segments of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and subtly extends down the Atlantic Coast to incorporate North Carolina, Maryland, and the District of Columbia."
Noyes continues, explaining: This zone also stretches through portions of the Southern states like Georgia and the Midwestern areas such as Ohio, Kentucky, and Kansas. It covers temperate zones of the Southwest, including Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, and concludes in the Northwest regions of Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Oregon. Parts of Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire are also classified within Zone 6."
Needless to say, this zone covers a lot of ground. As far as when you can plant, the average last day of frost is between April 1-21, and the average first day of frost is between October 17-21. If you live within this zone, consider planting some of these various types of plants:
- Formosa Lily
- Baby Sage
- English Lavender
USDA Zone 7: Temperatures between 0 and 10 Degrees Fahrenheit
Noyes explained that Zone 7 encompasses a wide range of states. This zone primarily includes Alabama, northern Arkansas, eastern California, Colorado, Connecticut, Rhode Island, northern Texas, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, southern Tennessee, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, southern Oklahoma, coastal New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, central Arizona, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and the southern and western regions of Nevada.
The planting season starts a little earlier for this zone. The average last day of frost is between March 22 and April 3, and the average first day of frost is between October 29 and November 15.
If you love a more exotic variety of flowers, then you're in luck. Thanks to the less frigid temperatures, you can plant a wider range of striking flora in this zone, along with some tasty herbs and vegetables. Consider adding these various plants to your garden:
- Canna Lily
- Golden Lotus Banana
- Spineless Prickly Pear
- Calla Lily
- Wild Ginger
USDA Zone 8: Temperatures between 10 and 20 Degrees Fahrenheit
Gardening Zone 8 is another one that stretches across the U.S. Some states that are included in this zone are North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.
There are also sections of this zone that extend to the coast of Oregon. It doesn't begin to frost until late into the year, between November 7-28, and the last day of frost is between March 13-21. Pluck some plant ideas from this list for a great growing season:
- Purple Arrowroot
- Lily of the Nile
- Angel's Trumpets
- Elephant's Ear
- Beavertail Cactus
USDA Zone 9: Temperatures between 20 and 30 Degrees Fahrenheit
This zone incorporates states such as South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Nevada, Florida, and Washington. Your frost dates are getting shorter, and for Zone 9, the average first day of frost is between November 25 and December 13 and the average last day of frost is between February 6-28.
When getting into warmer climates, you also need to choose plants that can withstand the heat. Don't worry, though—there are plenty of plants that flourish in this zone, such as:
- Succulents, like Hens and Chicks
- Hardy Hibiscus
- Creeping Phlox
- Bay Laurel
USDA Zone 10: Temperatures between 30 and 40 Degrees Fahrenheit
Zone 10 starts as you get further south and into the heat. Only a few places experience this warm zone, including regions in Arizona, southern California, southern Florida, Nevada, Texas, Louisiana, and Hawaii.
"In USDA hardiness zones 10 and above, there is no usual day of frost, so you have an all-year-round season," Noyes says. However, it's still a good idea to plant according to the specific needs for the plants you choose.
Enjoy these various types of plants if you're living in these warmer climates:
- Aloe Vera
- Queen of the Night
- California Poppies
USDA Zone 11: Temperatures between 40 and 50 Degrees Fahrenheit
Only a few small areas are in this zone. It primarily encompasses Hawaii, the Florida Keys, and parts of Puerto Rico. Needless to say, it's pretty much open season when it comes to growing a range of gorgeous tropical plants.
Here are some tropical plants and produce to grow in Zone 11:
- Scarlet Star
- Flamingo Flower
- Pineapple Plant
- Swiss chard
USDA Zone 12 & 13: Temperatures between 50 and 60 Degrees Fahrenheit and Higher
These zones are exclusive to Hawaii and Puerto Rico, with no presence in the contiguous United States. Rather than fretting about frost here, you need to ensure your garden can hold up to the heat.
You get to enjoy gardening year-round and have an abundance of plants to choose from including:
- Bird of Paradise
- Foxtail Orchids
- Blue Ginger
- Sea Purslane
If you're curious about other types of plants but not sure if they will grow in your zone, it's easy to find out. Noyes says you can usually find zoning information on seed sachets and near plant descriptions, and it's usually the first detail you'll see.
"You will see that perennials are generally called ‘hardy’ and ‘tender,'" she says. "These are generic terms we use to say if a plant can withstand frost or even freezing temperatures or not. Of course, the warmer your climate zone is, the more tender varieties you can have, while in cold areas, you will need hardy plants. The colder, the hardier."
Use this USDA Gardening Zone Guide to plant accordingly so you can have a glorious garden every year.
9 Easy-to-Grow, Flowering Plants to Elevate Your Home's Curb Appeal
Where is Zone 7 in the US? ›
From east to west, it begins in small areas of southern Connecticut. It then stretches south through Virginia, east through Tennessee and northern Arkansas, and southwest through the Texas panhandle and New Mexico, then narrows and winds north through Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington.What is the highest USDA zone? ›
The warmest zone in the 48 contiguous states is the Florida Keys (11b) and the coldest is in north-central Minnesota (2b). A couple of locations on the northern coast of Puerto Rico have the warmest hardiness zone in the United States at 13b.Where is Zone 5 in the United States? ›
Growing zones are based on average annual minimum winter temperatures and separated out by a margin of 10 degrees Fahrenheit. USDA growing zones range from 1 to 13, but the continental US only ranges from 3 to 10. The official USDA zone map is now further divided into subcategories of a and b with a 5 degree margin.What does Zone 6 mean in gardening? ›
USDA Hardiness Zone 6 enjoys a temperate climate with average minimum winter temperatures ranging from -10°F to 0°F (-23.3°C to -17.8°C). Gardeners and landscapers in Zone 6 can create thriving landscapes by selecting appropriate plants and employing specific gardening techniques to ensure the success of their gardens.Which states are in Zone 8? ›
In North America, Zone 8 is one of the warmest zones, containing much of the southern quarter of the United States, including much of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Arizona, California, and coastal Oregon and Washington.Where is Zone 8 in the US? ›
Where is Zone 8? USDA Zone 8 spans mainly from coastal Virginia to central Texas, including the entirety of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.Where is Zone 6 America? ›
Zone 6 starts in the Mid-Atlantic United States (including parts of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia) and extends slightly down the Atlantic Coast to include North Carolina, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.What is the coldest USDA zone? ›
The USDA hardiness zones range from 1a, with winter's coldest temperatures falling as low as -60°F, to 13b, where winter temperatures never fall below 65°F.What USDA zone is FT worth in? ›
Fort Worth, Texas is located in USDA Hardiness Zone 8.
What zone is Florida for plants? ›
The Department of Agriculture has designated four zones in Florida--8, 9, 10, and 11. The USDA hardiness zones are based on the average lowest temperatures, helping you choose plants that can survive the winter.Where is Zone 3 in the United States? ›
Zone 3: -40 to -30°F
The upper Midwest states hold most of Zone 3, such as northern parts of Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Maine.
Where is Zone 4? The USDA Hardiness Zone 4 comprises some of the coldest and northernmost areas of the continental United States. It stretches in a crescent shape from northern Idaho to northern New York and New England, and from the Canadian border south into parts of the Colorado Rockies.Where are zones 9 and 10 in the United States? ›
Zone 9 includes central Florida, southern Louisiana and Texas and stretches up the west coast in a narrow band on the western coast of California. Zone 10 encompasses south Florida, southeast California, the southernmost tip of Texas, and much of Hawaii.Where is Zone 11 in the United States? ›
The average coldest winter temperature falls between 40 and 50 degrees F, making the possibility of frost or freezing weather almost non-existent. The limited geographic regions in Zone 11 include parts of Hawaii as well as Southernmost Florida, including Biscayne Bay, Key Largo and Key West.How many gardening zones are there in the US? ›
The USDA Hardiness Zone Map divides North America into 13 zones of 10°F each, ranging from -60°F (-51°C) to 70°F (21°C).Where is Zone 12 in the United States? ›
Zones 1 and 2 are only found in Canada, and zones 12 and 13 only in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, so everywhere in the continental USA is in zones 3 to 11. Zone 3 is only found in the northern parts of Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota and in the Rocky Mountains. Zone 11 is only the tip of Florida and Santa Catalina Island.What grows best in Zone 5 and 6? ›
Ideal options for sunny zone 5 and 6 gardens are coneflowers, bee balm and phlox. These diverse perennials add colour, beauty and style to the landscape while giving bees, butterflies and other beneficial pollinators what they need.What is the best plant to grow in Zone 6? ›
Asters, astilbe, bee balm, cannas, coneflowers, crocus, daffodils, delphiniums, glads, hibiscus, hostas, hyacinths, irises, lilies, peonies, phlox, salvia, sedum, tulips and yarrow are among the Zone 6 plants we recommend.What fruits and vegetables can grow in Zone 6? ›
Sow seeds outdoors for the following crops: asparagus, beets, carrots, chard, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, mustard, onion sets, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radish, spinach, and turnip. Establish new plantings of fruit trees, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, asparagus, and rhubarb.
Where is Zone 13 in the United States? ›
In the United States, Zone 13 regions are located on and near the equator and consist of Puerto Rico and remote locations in Hawaii.What zone is Texas on? ›
Almost everything in Texas is in Central Time; only two counties in one corner of the west, El Paso and Hudspeth observe Mountain Time.Where are zones 9 through 11 in the United States? ›
Zones 9 to 11 in the United States encompass such areas as Texas, California, Louisiana, Florida, and other southern areas of the states. Their characteristics regarding water vary, however, which is also a consideration when choosing plants.Where is Zone 1 in the United States? ›
So, zone 1 is the coldest it can get, and in the United States, you find zone 1 only in north and central Alaska. Zone 1 has an arctic climate with long, frigid winters and very short, cool summers.What is Zone 2 in USA? ›
The definition of Zone 2 is a hazardous area classified as an atmosphere where a mixture of air and flammable substances in the form of gas, vapour or mist is not likely to occur in normal operation, but if it does occur, will persist for a short period only.What are the zone areas in the US? ›
The easiest fruit tree to grow for beginners is usually an apple tree, which has the benefit of being such a popular, versatile fruit. 'If you are seeking a more low-maintenance fruit tree, look to the plum or peach trees, which require less care than other fruit trees,' adds Smith.What are the 4 zones of America? ›
Finally, the railway managers agreed to use four time zones for the continental United States: Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. Local times would no longer be used by the railroads.Why is it called Zone 6? ›
What does “Zone 6” mean? and What is “Zone 6”? The slang term “Zone 6” (also spelled Zone Six) is a noun which is used to reference a zone in Atlanta. Zone 6 means the Eastside of Atlanta. The slang term “Zone 6” has been used by Childish Gambino, Future, 21 Savage, and many more rappers.Which hot zone has no winter? ›
Equatorial regions like are hot throughout the year and have no winter.
Which zone is not too hot not too cold? ›
Definition: The part of the Earth's surface between the Arctic Circle and the Tropic of Cancer or between the Antarctic Circle and the Tropic of Capricorn; characterized by temperate climate [i.e. mild, moderate temperature; neither hot nor cold].What is the coldest habitable livable location in the United States? ›
Fairbanks, Alaska (27.6°F)
Even with our “population of at least 10,000” stipulation, Alaska manages to take the win. The city experiences a mean annual temperature of 27.6°F—that's below the freezing point! For those interested in records, the lowest temperature on record for Fairbanks is -66°F.
Dallas, Texas is located in USDA Hardiness Zone 8.What grows best in zone 9a? ›
Flowering plants for zone 9 include astilbe, bee balm, cannas, coneflowers, crocus, croton, daffodils, dahlias, glads, hibiscus, hostas, hyacinths, irises, jasmine, phlox, salvia, sedum, snake plants and are some the plants for zone 9 that we recommend.What zone is Houston Texas? ›
Houston, Texas is located in USDA Hardiness Zone 9.Where is Zone 9 in Florida? ›
In Central Florida, the tri-county area of Citrus, Levy and Marion Counties is in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zone 9A with a warmer 9B area along the Gulf Coast. Average annual extreme winter temperatures in 9A are 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit: 5 degrees warmer in 9B.What vegetables are best to grow in Florida? ›
- Broccoli. Broccoli is a nutritious vegetable that provides plenty of vitamins and minerals. ...
- Cabbage. Cabbage, a relative of broccoli, is another great choice for Florida's veggie gardens. ...
- Collards. ...
- Corn. ...
- Beets. ...
- Carrots. ...
- Kale. ...
Identifying The USDA Zones In Florida
For example, if you live in Zone 9b (Orlando, Florida), your average lowest temperatures are 25 to 30 °F.
Zone 2 is considered the target range for aerobic and base fitness work and should be about 60-70% of your HRmax. Zone 3 is the range for aerobic endurance work and should put you at about 70-80% of your HRmax.What is the difference between Zone 3 and 4? ›
The zones are calculated by using the average minimum temperature during the winter months. Every zone is separated by 10°F. For example, Zone 3 is 10°F colder than Zone 4. Zone 4 is 10°F colder than Zone 5.
What is Zone 3 called? ›
Zone 3 – aerobic exercise: Exercising for 10–40 minutes with a heartbeat of 70-80% of your maximum heart rate will not only burn fat effectively, but will also strengthen muscles as well as building their endurance capabilities. This medium level is suitable for those who exercise to sustain good health.Is it OK to run in Zone 4? ›
Heart rate zone 4 is where the going gets tough. You'll be breathing hard and working aerobically. If you train at this intensity, you'll improve your speed endurance. Your body will get better at using carbohydrates for energy and you'll be able to withstand higher levels of lactic acid in your blood for longer.What is Zone 6 climate in USA? ›
Climate Zone 6 includes the beaches at the foot of the southern California hills, as well as several miles of inland area where hills are low or nonexistent. The Pacific Ocean is relatively warm in these longitudes and keeps the climate very mild. Most of the rain falls during the warm, mild winters.Where is Zone 9 USA? ›
The Zone 9 map includes the following states: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii.Where is Zone 10a in USA? ›
Where is zone 10a? Zone 10a consists of parts of California and Hawaii, in addition to coastal Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. Zone 10 divides into zone 10a and zone 10b, with zone 10a being the cooler half.What zone is Las Vegas in? ›
This can be a source of confusion for people learning how to harden in Las Vegas. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) puts Las Vegas in growing zone 9a. The USDA bases its growing zones on the extreme minimum temperature of a region. Meanwhile, the Sunset climate zones system gives Las Vegas a growing zone of 11.What zone is North Carolina? ›
North Carolina growing zones range from 5b to 8b. Growing zones, also known as planting zones, help gardeners know what flowers, plants or vegetables will thrive in a specific region. Zones also determine which plants will be most likely to survive the winter conditions of the zone.What does garden Answer husband do for a living? ›
With the success of Garden Answer, Aaron was able to quit his job with the cable company and focus exclusively on making videos. Laura continues to write and perform in the videos, but keeps her hand in the gardening biz through her work at the family garden center.What zone is Texas to plant? ›
Texas growing zones span 6b to 10a. If you are unsure what Texas planting zone you are in, or if you don't know what plants will do best in your zone, a local nursery can help. Remember that it is fine to plant lower than your zone, but not higher.What garden zone is California? ›
Because the state is so large, it is actually further broken down into Northern and Southern planting zones. A northern half of a California planting zone can be anywhere from 5a to 10b. The southern region has zones 5a to 11a.
Who pays for the work on Garden Rescue? ›
The cost of the design and labour (for two days) will be met by the production. Your budget will be used to pay for all the materials used in your Garden Rescue makeover, and, by prior agreement, any specialist or additional labour required by your particular design/garden. What are the dimensions of your garden?Who is the lady on garden answer? ›
Laura LeBoutillier is an internet sensation. And in the gardening world, that's saying something! In the five years since she and her videographer/husband Aaron started making Garden Answer advice videos, Laura has collected a social media following of more than 5 million people.Where is USA Garden Center located? ›
Where is USA Garden Center located? USA Garden Center's headquarters are located at 7761 S Cherry Ave, Fresno, California, 93725, United States What is USA Garden Center's official website?Who is the owner of Proven Winners? ›
Tom Smith (Founder)