Looking to take your gardening up a notch?
Knowing what gardening zone you're in can take your garden from drab to fab.
Whether you’re a gardening guru or just earning your green thumb, you’ll need to know what gardening zone you’re in.
Knowing your gardening zone will help you determine what types of plants will grow in your particular climate. Why is that important?
For instance, you may have an affinity for Cara Cara oranges and want your own tree so you can enjoy them whenever you want. But if you live in Northern Minnesota, you'll be putting a lot of time and effort into something that will likely never be fruitful.
Gardening can be rewarding but it should also be something you enjoy and are relaxed doing. Knowing what gardening zone you’re in will help reduce your stress and increase your harvest.
Read on to find some tips on working with your gardening zone.
What Are Gardening Zones?
There are 13 total gardening zones—also called plant hardiness zones—in the United States.
They are determined by average temperatures in their region, with each zone seeing temperatures that are 10 degrees warmer than the one before it. For instance, the winter lows in Zone 1 are 10 degrees colder than the average low temps in Zone 2.
As you might expect, Alaska is the coldest gardening zone, at Zone 1. Zone 13 is found exclusively in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
What Gardening Zone Am I In?
The easiest and quickest way of determining your gardening zone is to use the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. From there, you can either click different areas of the map to zoom in or search by your zip code for a more accurate look.
Once you know what gardening zone you're in, you'll be well on your way to knowing the types of plants that will work well in your area.
Of course, the other side of the coin is finding the flowers, fruits, and foliage that will flourish where you live. Before you purchase seeds or plants, check which zones it grows well in. For example, Cara Cara oranges are only hardy in Zones 9-11.
Keep in mind, however, that your hardiness zone is not set in stone. You may be able to move a bit outside of your hardiness zone (especially if your weather fluctuates) and still have success.
If nothing else, you can always try growing your preferred plant in a container so it stays safe from the effects of extreme weather.
Plants are usually divided into two categories: tender and hardy. The difference is that hardy plants can survive freezing temperatures, but tender plants cannot.
If you would like your plants to survive the winters where you live and keep coming back year after year, you will have to choose the right varieties for your specific gardening zone. For example, your Northern Florida garden should be able to grow passionflower with ease, while the same plant would wither away in Western New York.
- Zone 1 - Broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, apples, thyme, rosemary, sunflowers, and lilies of the valley
- Zone 2 - Carrots, onions, swiss chard, apples, plums, juniper, violets, and poppies
- Zone 3 - Asparagus, squash, cucumbers, apples, cherries, apricots, chamomile, parsley, horseradish, peppermint, bluebells, and wallflowers
- Zone 4 - Eggplants, melons, pumpkins, apples, plums, pears, mint, sage, thyme, lilies, and iris
- Zone 5 - Kale, lettuce, spinach, peaches, pears, apples, lavender, and black-eyed susans
- Zone 6 - Beans, tomatoes, winter squash, peaches, dill, oregano, coriander, roses, sunflowers, and ferns
- Zone 7 - Hot peppers, sweet peppers, turnips, apples, bananas, peaches, plums, cherries, figs, nectarines, some varieties of apples, sage, tarragon, peonies, and forget-me-nots
- Zone 8 - Watermelon, tomatoes, okra, peas, banana, grapefruit, kumquat, cherries, plums, tangerines, rosemary, sage, and lilies
- Zone 9 - Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, avocado, kiwi, oranges, thyme, chives, basil, wisteria, and zinnias
- Zone 10 - Tomatillos, bitter melon, Mexican tarragon, mint, ferns, and lilies
- Zone 11 - Beets, cabbage, carrots, basil, mint, thyme, and palm
- Zone 12/13 - Agave, pineapple, coconut palms, bird of paradise, hibiscus, and bougainvillea
Of course, this is only a small sampling of the types of plants that grow well in these zones.
And again, if you long to grow a tropical pineapple in your Chicago-area apartment, you can always try it in a container! Our PSW pots are wonderful for growing plants of all shapes and sizes. You can even find "container friendly" varieties of herb and vegetable seeds!
No matter what zone you’re in, adequate plant care is essential to help your garden thrive. And your plants needs will be different depending on the unique climate in your area.
For example, Tennessee and portions of Arizona are both in Zone 7, but these two locations receive completely different amounts of sunlight and rainfall.
When making your landscape selections, you should also consider your plant's light and water needs.
Each type of plant will have specific care in order for them to bloom or be fruitful. We recommend keeping track of each plant in a chart or gardening notebook so that you can reference it when you need to.
Get In the Zone!
Planting within your gardening zone shouldn't have to be limiting. No matter where you live, there are plenty of varieties that will thrive in your garden. With a little research and a lot of enthusiasm, you'll be well on your way to having a yard that will WOW all your neighbors!