What Are the USDA Hardiness Zones?

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At Great Garden Plants, we want to set you up with the best gardening experience, and it starts with selecting the right plants for you. A few factors determine whether a plant will feel at home in your garden, including temperature, rainfall, soil typedrainage, and light. Temperature is arguably the most important climatic factor when growing perennials because plants need to survive the highs and lows of every season to return the following year. Knowing your USDA hardiness zone, and what it means, is the first step in your perennial garden journey!

USDA Hardiness Zone

The USDA plant hardiness zone map uses average annual minimum temperature to assign plant hardiness zone ratings to various regions of the country. It divides the United States into 11 zones, with zone 1 being the coldest and 11 being the warmest. Plants are assigned to hardiness zones based on the lowest temperature they will survive.

It’s essential to know your hardiness zone when picking out perennials and shrubs, which is why we ask you to enter your zip code when you enter our site. All of the plant descriptions on our site include a USDA hardiness zone rating that you can use as a guide when deciding which plants to purchase. Plus, on our plant pages, we give alerts if a plant is outside your growing zone!

Map of the US colored in with a variety of colors to indicate which hardiness zone each area is in

Hardiness In Warm Zones

"If My Zone Is Warm, Shouldn't All Plants Survive The Minimum Tempurature?"

Plant hardiness zones are often used to determine if a plant can survive cold winter temperatures, but they also determine if your zone is too warm. Some plants rely on those cold winters as a “reset” button. Some won’t set buds as well as expected, making it unlikely to flower and set fruit. Other plants may become less vigorous and slowly fade due to high temperatures.

What If I Want To Buy Plants Outside My Zone?

Though this isn’t recommended, we certainly won’t stop you! The USDA hardiness zone is far from foolproof, and we encourage informed experimentation. Our customer service team is always happy to answer any questions you have, as well as make recommendations for you. Your plant may grow well when temperatures are warm, but once your area starts experiencing colder weather, your plant might be quite unhappy. Often, doing so will turn perennials into annuals, dying at the end of the season.

What Is My Growing Zone?

Still not sure what your growing zone is? No worries. Just click “Growing Zone” in the top right corner of your screen and enter your zip code. We’ll let you know exactly what zone you’re in.

Written by: Miranda Niemiec, click here to read bio.

Questions, comments, or concerns? Let us know! We have an experienced, knowledgeable staff ready to make sure your garden turns out perfect. Or check out our other blogs, here.