Gardening Tips: Determining and Using Plant Hardiness Zones

by Charlotte Walker
Determining and Using Plant Hardiness Zones

Your hardiness zone will help you determine which plants will thrive best in your climate.

Cold and heat are variables to consider when growing both perennial and annual plants. Knowing your local hardiness details will also help you determine when it’s time to get your seeds started.

This post is the third in a series on seeds. In this series, we’ll cover everything from the importance of seeds, how to save seeds, how to start seeds, correct storage and so much more!

Today we are going to talk about determining your hardiness zone and why it’s useful. We’ve gathered up some hardiness zone charts for various countries and will tell you more about how to make use of this information.

You can find part 1 & 2 of this series here:

Heirloom Seeds Part 1: The Importance of Seed Saving & How to Select The Best Seeds

Heirloom Seeds Part 2: SEEDING FEAR | Documentary Short

Hardiness Zone

When planting your vegetable garden your hardiness zone will be the starting point for determining the type of plants that will be best suited to your growing conditions. It will also help you to decide when seeds should be planted by either directly sowing seeds in the ground or starting them indoors. The hardiness zone will help you determine first and last frost, this combined with the time each type of seeds needs to grow will provide your answer.

Examples include tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, beets, turnips, pumpkins, squash, melons, peas.
Perennials

There are many perennial edibles that you can plant and enjoy for years to come. Most suppliers will list the zone range for these plants so that you can determine how well they will thrive in your growing region. Keep in mind that this isn’t set in stone. Don’t let this stop you from trying to grow something if your climate isn’t too far out of the recommended range.

Examples include asparagus, rhubarb, Jerusalem artichokes, fruit trees, berry bushes, horseradish & herbs.

Plant Hardiness Charts

If you search for plant hardiness zone and your country you will find a chart that pinpoints your zone. I’ve listed a few country charts below for convenience.

Plant hardiness zone charts by country

Here are a few Country plant hardiness charts. If your country isn’t listed here search online for “country name” plant hardiness zones and you should find details on your zone.

US

Canada

Australia

United Kingdom

Example use

Where I live in New Brunswick Canada, I am in Zone 4a. Where I used to live in the Northwest Territories, I was in zone 0. I can grow certain things as perennials in zone 4a that will only grow as annuals in zone 0. I know that I need to start tomatoes indoors because frost will arrive before they produce fruit. A few calculations will tell me when they need to be started.

You can also try to use this knowledge to help you grow things less suited to your zone. With a greenhouse or a bit of ingenuity, you can create microclimates.

Seed starting

Once you’ve got your seeds, you can work on starting your seeds and planning your garden. We share some tips on getting started in our Seed Starting Basics guide.

Helpful Books & Resources

Canadian Heirloom & Organic Seed Suppliers

Vegetables Love Flowers: Companion Planting for Beauty and Bounty by Lisa Mason Ziegler

How to Grow More Vegetables  by John Jeavons

Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers by Leslie F. Halleck

Starting Seeds: How to Grow Healthy, Productive Vegetables, Herbs, and Flowers from Seed. – Storey BASICS

Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, 2nd Edition by Suzanne Ashworth

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