So, you’ve caught the farming bug and now want to start your own garden. But what plants can you successfully grow in your garden?

This post goes into the common obstacles you usually face when starting your own little farm and how to tackle them by planning. In a matter of months, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits and flowers of your labor!

What is a Hardiness Zone?

A question like, “are there any flowers that bloom in winter?” might have you on a long research endeavor when you could just start with where you live. This narrows things down considerably and helps set boundaries to what “winter” even means.

The first thing to look at when starting your own garden is where you live because the climatic region directly impacts what you can grow.

This is called the USDA hardiness zone – a geographic area with certain climatic conditions that suit certain plants.

What Are the USDA Hardiness Zones?

USDA plant hardiness zones are the standard when it comes to determining which plants will grow best in a particular US region, so you need to get clear on this even before you start planning your garden.

The Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture is the official resource on USDA plant hardiness zones.

How Many Planting Zones Are There?

The planting zones start off in the North with Alaska being in USDA zone 1, while Hawaii and Puerto Rico are in USDA zones 12-13. The zones are defined considering the average yearly minimum temperature and are further broken down into two subzones, a and b (so 13 zones, 26 sub-zones total).

Advisory: Up until 2012, there were only established 11 USDA plant hardiness zones. After reviewing weather data from 1976-2005, USDA decided to update the map and add zones 12 and 13 to accurately display the effects of global warming. Many areas were at least half of a zone hotter than the before ‘76 when the data was updated.

As a beginner, you probably won’t have too much to do with sub-zones, but you do need to know that:

1. USDA hardiness zones are rough guides only. The system is highly reliable and of great help to horticulturists, but it doesn’t really take into consideration variables such as season length, day length, or ocean and continental air influence.

In short, this system tells you which plants will survive in your outdoor garden, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they will also thrive.

2. Microclimates are a thing and they can make or break your garden. Microclimates are restricted areas that have different temperatures, humidity, and growing conditions than their surroundings.

A sunny alcove that’s protected from cold winds in your backyard, for example, is a microclimate that enables you to plant perennials that wouldn’t normally survive in your area.

How Do I Determine My Planting Zone?

You can use the next section of our article to find your USDA hardiness zone on this page. Alternatively, you can also scroll down to the end of this article and visit the interactive USDA map.

Once you get the hang of it, the map is pretty easy to read – you’ve got your legend on the right that shows you which colors are used to highlight the USDA zones.

For example, the southern part of Texas is in zone 9 while the northern part is in zone 6. If you live in Nevada, you are in zone 5 or 4. The west coast follows a different pattern though, and is in zones 10, 9, and 8 throughout the region.

USDA hardiness zones full map

USDA Hardiness Zones & Maps by State

A – G

Alabama USDA Zone Map

Alabama USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Alabama: 7a – 9a

Last Frost Date: March 7

First Frost Date: November 18 

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 255

View on USDA.gov
Alaska USDA Zone Map

Alaska USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Alaska: 1a – 8b

Last Frost Date: June 18

First Frost Date: August 19

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 61

View on USDA.gov
Arizona USDA Zone Map

Arizona USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Arizona: 4b – 10b

Last Frost Date: May 27

First Frost Date: October 11

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 136

View on USDA.gov
Arkansas USDA Zone Map

Arkansas USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Arkansas: 6b – 8a

Last Frost Date: March 14

First Frost Date: November 14

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 244

View on USDA.gov
Northern California USDA Zones

California USDA Zone Maps - Northern California USDA Zones

View on USDA.gov
Southern California USDA Zones

California USDA Zone Maps - Southern California USDA Zones

USDA Zones in California: 5a – 11a

Last Frost Date: April 9

First Frost Date: October 23

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 196

View on USDA.gov
Colorado USDA Zone Map

Colorado USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Colorado: 3a – 7a

Last Frost Date: May 4

First Frost Date: October 20

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 168

View on USDA.gov
Connecticut USDA Zone Map

Connecticut USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Connecticut: 5b – 7a

Last Frost Date: May 6

First Frost Date: October 5

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 151

View on USDA.gov
Delaware USDA Zone Map

Delaware USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Delaware: 7a & 7b

Last Frost Date: April 28

First Frost Date: October 9

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 163

View on USDA.gov
District of Columbia USDA Zone Map

District of Columbia USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in the District of Columbia: 5b – 8a

Last Frost Date: March 30

First Frost Date: November 11

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 225

View on USDA.gov
Florida USDA Zone Map

Florida USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Florida: 8a – 11a

Last Frost Date: February 3

First Frost Date: January 7

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 337

View on USDA.gov
Georgia USDA Zone Map

Georgia USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Georgia: 6a – 9a

Last Frost Date: March 9

First Frost Date: November 19

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 254

View on USDA.gov
Hawaii USDA Zone Map

Hawaii USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Florida: 9a – 13a

Last Frost Date: February 3

First Frost Date: January 7

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 337

View on USDA.gov

USDA Plant Hardiness Maps by State

I – M

Idaho USDA Zone Map

Idaho USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Idaho: 3b – 7b

Last Frost Date: June 25

First Frost Date: September 2

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 68

View on USDA.gov
Illinois USDA Zone Map

Illinois USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Illinois: 5a – 7a

Last Frost Date: April 19

First Frost Date: October 14

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 177

View on USDA.gov
Indiana USDA Zone Map

Indiana USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Indiana: 5b – 6b

Last Frost Date: April 19

First Frost Date: October 24

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 192

View on USDA.gov
Iowa USDA Zone Map

Iowa USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Iowa: 4b – 6a

Last Frost Date: April 14

First Frost Date: October 14

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 182

View on USDA.gov
Kansas USDA Zone Map

Kansas USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Kansas: 5b – 7a 

Last Frost Date: March 14

First Frost Date: November 14

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 244

View on USDA.gov
Kentucky USDA Zone Map

Kentucky USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Kentucky: 6a – 7a

Last Frost Date: April 13

First Frost Date: October 24

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 193

View on USDA.gov
Louisiana USDA Zone Map

Louisiana USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Louisiana: 8a – 10a

Last Frost Date: February 25

First Frost Date: November 24

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 271

View on USDA.gov
Maine USDA Zone Map

Maine USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Maine: 3b – 6a

Last Frost Date: May 18

First Frost Date: September 23

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 127

View on USDA.gov
Maryland USDA Zone Map

Maryland USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Maryland: 5b – 8a

Last Frost Date: April 11

First Frost Date: October 29

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 200

View on USDA.gov
Massachusetts USDA Zone Map

Massachusetts USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Massachusetts: 5a – 7b 

Last Frost Date: May 1

First Frost Date: October 7

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 158

View on USDA.gov
Michigan USDA Zone Map

Michigan USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Michigan: 4a – 6b

Last Frost Date: June 2

First Frost Date: September 12

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 101

View on USDA.gov
Minnesota USDA Zone Map

Minnesota USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Minnesota: 3a – 5a

Last Frost Date: May 23

First Frost Date: September 20

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 119

View on USDA.gov
Mississippi USDA Zone Map

Mississippi USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Mississippi: 7b – 9a

Last Frost Date: March 31

First Frost Date: November 1

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 214

View on USDA.gov
Missouri USDA Zone Map

Missouri USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Missouri: 5b – 7b

Last Frost Date: April 8

First Frost Date: October 27

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 201

View on USDA.gov
Montana USDA Zone Map

Montana USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Montana: 3a – 6a

Last Frost Date: May 26

First Frost Date: September 19

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 115

View on USDA.gov

USDA Plant Hardiness Maps by State

N – S

Nebraska USDA Zone Map

Nebraska USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Nebraska: 4a – 5b

Last Frost Date: April 22

First Frost Date: October 14

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 174

View on USDA.gov
Nevada USDA Zone Map

Nevada USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Nevada: 4a – 10a

Last Frost Date: April 24

First Frost Date: November 3

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 192

View on USDA.gov
New Hampshire USDA Zone Map

New Hampshire USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in New Hampshire: 3b – 6a

Last Frost Date: May 20

First Frost Date: September 21

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 123

View on USDA.gov
New Jersey USDA Zone Map

New Jersey USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in New Jersey: 6a – 7b

Last Frost Date: April 25

First Frost Date: October 18

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 175

View on USDA.gov
New Mexico USDA Zone Map

New Mexico USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in New Mexico: 4b – 9a

Last Frost Date: May 5

First Frost Date: October 8

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 155

View on USDA.gov
New York USDA Zone Map

New York USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in New York: 3b – 7b

Last Frost Date: April 1

First Frost Date: November 18

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 230

View on USDA.gov
North Carolina USDA Zone Map

North Carolina USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in North Carolina: 5b – 8b

Last Frost Date: April 12

First Frost Date: October 25

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 195

View on USDA.gov
North Dakota USDA Zone Map

North Dakota USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in North Dakota: 3a – 4b

Last Frost Date: May 15

First Frost Date: September 21

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 128

View on USDA.gov
Ohio USDA Zone Map

Ohio USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Ohio: 5b – 6b

Last Frost Date: April 28

First Frost Date: October 9

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 163

View on USDA.gov
Oklahoma USDA Zone Map

Oklahoma USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Oklahoma: 6a – 8a

Last Frost Date: April 1

First Frost Date: November 3

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 215

View on USDA.gov
Oregon USDA Zone Map

Oregon USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Oregon: 4b – 9b

Last Frost Date: April 17

First Frost Date: October 12

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 177

View on USDA.gov
Pennsylvania USDA Zone Map

Pennsylvania USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Pennsylvania: 5a – 7b

Last Frost Date: April 30 

First Frost Date: October 15

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 167

View on USDA.gov

Puerto Rico USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Puerto Rico: 11b – 13b

Last Frost Date: N/A

First Frost Date: N/A

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 365; the lowest temperature ever recorded in Puerto Rico is 39 degrees in the high mountains, not enough for a frost!

View on USDA.gov
Rhode Island USDA Zone Map

Rhode Island USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Rhode Island: 5b – 7a

Last Frost Date: May 8

First Frost Date: October 3

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 147

View on USDA.gov
South Carolina USDA Zone Map

South Carolina USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in South Carolina: 7a – 9a

Last Frost Date: April 1

First Frost Date: November 1

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 213

View on USDA.gov
South Dakota USDA Zone Map

South Dakota USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in South Dakota: 3b – 5b

Last Frost Date: May 9

First Frost Date: September 24

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 137

View on USDA.gov

USDA Hardiness Zones by State

T – W

Tennessee USDA Zone Map

Tennessee USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Tennessee: 5b – 8a

Last Frost Date: April 13

First Frost Date: October 21

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 190

View on USDA.gov
Eastern Texas USDA Zones

Texas USDA Zone Maps - Eastern Texas USDA Zones

View on USDA.gov
Western Texas

Texas USDA Zone Maps - Western Texas USDA Zones

USDA Zones in Texas: 6b – 10a

Last Frost Date: March 26

First Frost Date: November 11

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 229

View on USDA.gov
Utah USDA Zone Map

Utah USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Utah: 4a – 9a

Last Frost Date: May 2

First Frost Date: October 13

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 163

View on USDA.gov
Vermont USDA Zone Map

Vermont USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Vermont: 3b – 5b

Last Frost Date: May 20

First Frost Date: September 23

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 125

View on USDA.gov
Virginia USDA Zone Map

Virginia USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Virginia: 5a – 8a

Last Frost Date: June 18

First Frost Date: September 8

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 81

View on USDA.gov
Washington State USDA Zone Map

Washington State USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Washington: 4a – 9a

Last Frost Date: March 30

First Frost Date: November 11

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 225

View on USDA.gov
West Virginia USDA Zone Map

West Virginia USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in West Virginia: 5a – 7a

Last Frost Date: May 4

First Frost Date: October 12

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 160

View on USDA.gov
Wisconsin USDA Zone Map

Wisconsin USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Wisconsin: 3b – 5b

Last Frost Date: May 14

First Frost Date: October 3

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 141

View on USDA.gov
Wyoming USDA Zone Map

Wyoming USDA Zone Map

USDA Zones in Wyoming: 3a – 6a

Last Frost Date: May 30

First Frost Date: September 13

Minimum Number of Freeze-Free Days: 105

View on USDA.gov
About the Author - Florina Ionescu

Hi! My name is Florina and I’ve been a plant junkie for 4 years now. I love nature, hiking, reading, watching movies, and spending time with my friends and my cat. I’m also very enthusiastic about the World Wide Web – I think it’s an amazing source of info and a great channel for communication.

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