Find Your Hardiness Zone

Find Your Hardiness Zone

Hey there, cold-climate gardeners! Want to know one of the juiciest secrets to successful gardening? It’s all about understanding your plant hardiness zone. These cold hardiness zones are established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture every 20 years or so, and they play a crucial role in determining what plants can thrive in your area. So, let’s dive in and find your hardiness zone!

What is a Hardiness Zone?

Before we get started, let’s quickly break down what a hardiness zone actually is. In a nutshell, hardiness zones are used to classify different regions based on their extreme low temperatures. The lower your zone number, the colder it gets. These zones provide valuable information for both gardeners and plant companies, helping them determine which plants are best suited for a specific area.

Discover Your Zone!

Find Your Hardiness Zone

Now, let’s talk about Minnesota, one of the chilliest spots in the United States. According to the most recent cold hardiness zone map released in 2012, most of Minnesota falls into USDA Zone 4, where temperatures can dip as low as -20°F to -30°F. The northern third of the state is even colder, classified as Zone 3 (-30°F to -40°F). To find out your hardiness zone down to the zip code level, check out this handy interactive map from USDA.

Get to Know Your Zone

Each zone is further divided into “a” and “b” subzones, with a 5-degree difference in extreme cold temperatures. Let’s take St. Cloud as an example. Gardeners in St. Cloud are in USDA Zone 4a (-30°F), while those in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities, just 30 miles away, are in 4b (-25°F). Additionally, a tiny arc in southern Minnesota, specifically Jackson and Martin counties, falls into Zone 5a.

Why Do Hardiness Zones Matter?

You may be wondering, why are hardiness zones so important? Well, they serve as a guide for gardeners when choosing plants that can withstand the harsh conditions of their specific region. Plant companies use these zones to establish ratings for their plants, indicating whether a particular species will survive in a given area. So, before you invest in that beautiful Crepe Myrtle, make sure it’s suited for your zone. In Minnesota, Oaks are a safe bet, while Crepe Myrtles may struggle to survive.

Consider Your Microclimate

If you happen to live on the border of two zones, like gardeners in Brainerd or Pine County, it’s essential to consider the microclimate of your property. Factors such as wind breaks, sun exposure, and shade can significantly impact the specific climate in your yard. So be sure to take these variables into account when selecting plants for your garden.

Unveiling Hardiness Ratings

To ensure your plants thrive, pay attention to the hardiness ratings listed on plant tags and seed packets. Plant tags almost always indicate the plant’s hardiness rating, and if you can’t find it upfront, just flip the tag over to the backside under care instructions. Remember, you can plant anything with a hardiness zone colder than your own. For example, if you’re in USDA Zone 4, go ahead and plant those zone 3 beauties. However, if you’re venturing into zone 5 plants, don’t be surprised if they struggle to adapt.

So go ahead, embrace the power of knowing your hardiness zone! It’s the key to selecting the perfect perennials, shrubs, and trees that will thrive in your garden. For more expert gardening tips and information, head over to Tips Tree Planting. Happy planting!

(Note: The images used in this article are sourced from the original article on