How to Plant in Your Garden at the Right Time

Discover the right time to plant, grow, fertilize, and harvest with this handy guide to planting zones across the United States. Knowing what temperature zone you live in can help you give your favorite flowers and garden veggies the best start. Keep this reference guide close by for maximum success.

Why Are Planting Zones Important?

It’s easier to grow plants successfully if your local climate is similar to their native habitat. Tropical flowers tend to do better in warmer areas of the United States when grown outdoors. This is especially important for perennials that you want to bloom year after year.

The USDA Plant Hardiness Map is used by gardeners and nurseries around the country to determine the easiest plants to grow in the local area. It looks at the lowest temperatures that appear in winter in each part of the U.S. and then compare them against the temperature tolerances of different plants. Some plants are very hardy in cold weather while others require a warm and humid climate to thrive.

How Many Planting Zones Does the United States Have?

The USDA Plant Hardiness Map technically lists 13 total temperature zones that affect parts of the United States. Parts of Alaska have very cold winter temperatures, putting them into zone 1. Hawaii and Puerto Rico fall into the opposite extreme, with some areas in zones 12 and 13. However, for the majority of the U.S., annual minimum winter temperatures fall between zones 3 and 11.

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Image pulled from the USDA website
Visit the link to use the interactive function of the map. And hone in on your zone.

Which Temperature Zone Do You Live In?

The dividing lines for climate zones usually run east to west. However, local weather factors such as proximity to mountain ranges, lakes, and oceans can all affect temperatures. This means that many states fall into more than one temperature zone.

For example, Texas has five different planting zones, from 6 to 10. California has an even broader temperature range, with some areas in cool zone 5 and other spots in steamy zone 11. States with a range of elevations typically run into this situation.

How can you find the right planting zone for your garden? One of the best ways is to ask your local nursery. The plant experts there often know exactly what kind of weather local gardens deal with. You can also check the USDA Plant Hardiness Map for your specific state.

What Kind of Plants Grow Well in Each Zone?

To help you get started planning your garden, we’ve put together a list of popular plants for each zone. Many hardy plants can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, so they’re easy to grow in several different zones.

Zone 2

Many veggies resist cold weather well, so feel free to plant beets, cabbage, celery, spinach, parsnips, peas and potatoes. Great fruit for zone 2 includes strawberries and raspberries. Depending on the variety, you can beautify your garden with lilacs, pansies, and sunflowers.

Zone 3

Trees are a great choice for zone 3, since they produce foliage and fruit year after year in spite of the short growing season. Apple, pear, and plum trees are happy in this climate. Plant veggies such as asparagus, squash, broccoli, carrots, radishes, and potatoes. Popular flowering plants include asters, azaleas, daffodils, irises, morning glories, and bleeding hearts.

Zone 4

For a vegetable garden, choose cold season veggies such as broccoli, parsnips, and potatoes, or use a raised bed with Harvest Gold Organics to give you extra options for the growing season. Zone 4 is home to many perennials, including daylilies, violets, asters, Shasta daisies, and hardy geraniums. If you want to grow sensitive perennials such as coreopsis and black-eyed Susans, treat them as annuals and replant each year.

Zone 5

With winter temps that don’t fall as much, zone 5 gardens offer many options for planting perennials, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Use gorgeous violets, stonecrop, and creeping phlox as ground cover, or plant breathtaking lilies, lavender, sedums, echinacea, and delphiniums to brighten up your day.

Zone 6

Treat your family to delicious homegrown ingredients such as fresh basil, juicy bell peppers, mouthwatering sweet corn, and tangy blueberries. Zone 6 offers so many possibilities for a bountiful garden, including tomatoes, peaches, cantaloupes, carrots, and cucumbers. Pro tip: Mixing organic soil with Harvest Gold Organics can improve the taste of your produce, giving you sweeter fruit and more flavorful veggies.

Zone 7

In zone 7, it’s possible to cultivate plants that look amazing year-round. Adorn the exterior of your home with evergreen junipers, firs, pines, and spruce trees. Rhododendrons and camellias also keep their foliage all year long in zone 7. Perennials that thrive include Bergenia, lavender, calamint, dianthus, and peonies.

Zone 8

This zone has a long growing season with cool summer nights and mild winters. This zone allows you to plant virtually any garden vegetable or herb. With cool-season veggies such as broccoli, peas, carrots, and leafy greens, you may be able to harvest more than once a year. Zone 8 is also great for flowers, from bird of paradise plants to hibiscus.

Zone 9

If you love tropical and subtropical plants, then zone 9 is the place for you. Spider lilies, columbines, passionflower vines, and purple coneflowers are native to this climate. The bright red scarlet sage plants are famous for attracting hummingbirds to your garden.

Zone 10

This zone is famous for its breathtaking wildflowers. A combination of warm temperatures year-round, ample sunlight, and abundant rainfall is the perfect recipe for incredible plant growth. As long as you use aerated soil with Harvest Gold Organics, these wildflowers require very little care on your part to thrive. A few favorites include African daisies, verbenas, poppies, cosmos, snapdragons, sunflowers, and goldenrods.

Zone 11

With zone 11’s tropical climate, the challenge isn’t worrying about winter lows but summertime highs. Select produce that normally grows in hot places, such as figs, kiwis, pomegranates, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and artichokes. Palm trees, lilies, orchids, and caladiums are all common sights in zone 11.

Professional gardeners can adapt to specific microclimates around the house for growing plants that are technically out of the zone. For example, it’s possible to grow some cool-season plants in warm climate zones by taking advantage of shady areas.

When Should You Plant in Different Temperature Zones?

The ideal time to plant depends on the amount of time flowers and veggies need to grow. Usually, gardeners look at the last frost date for planting zones and then count backward.

In zone 3, the last frost is around September 15, so planting often happens in late April or early May. In zone 10, the last frost is as late as January 30 and only lasts for two weeks, which allows for an ample growing season.

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How Can You Give Your Plants the Best Growth in Every Climate?

Many plants can be seeded indoors to compensate for a short growing season. You can also transplant perennials as winter approaches to keep them safe and warm indoors. When planting or transplanting, Harvest Gold Organics provides the best care possible for sensitive root systems.

The careful blend of silica and minerals allows roots to breathe while increasing the amount of sustaining nutrients they receive. Mix Harvest Gold Organics with high-quality potting soil and enjoy a breathtaking garden all year long!

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