Understanding Plant Hardiness Zones

Recently, the USDA changed the perimeters of the hardiness zones across the nation. What does this mean for gardeners? To break this new map down, let’s first start by covering the basics.

What is a Plant Hardiness Zone?

The United States is broken down into 13 zones, with A and B distinctions for each zone (example: 5a and 5b). These zones are determined based on location, climate, and weather.

Hardiness zones are determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The map was updated in 2023 using a 30-year average of the lowest annual winter temperatures taken from weather stations nationwide. These zones help determine what plants are most likely to survive and thrive in areas across the United States.

Each plant you see in garden centers has been rated for what zones it does best in. You can find that information on plant tags when shopping at retailers and on our individual plant pages when shopping online.

How Has the Map Changed?

In 2023, the USDA updated the zone hardiness map to reflect and incorporate the average temperatures of the past 20 years. About half of the country has shifted into the next warmer half zone. You can see the updated map here.

If you live in an area that experienced a zone shift, take time to get to know what plants work for your space. While you might now be in Zone 5, that doesn’t mean your temperatures can’t drop below what a typical Zone 5 would see. Do some research before buying, take note of which ones thrive, give your new plants a little extra love, and enjoy the process!

What Does This Mean for You?

Great question! The changing of some zonal regions means that you should make sure to double check what zone you live in before buying new plants. This way you can ensure any new plants will thrive in your zone. And keep in mind that just because a plant is hardy up to a certain zone, does not mean that it will thrive in your region. Take time to get to know your space and what it likes, and always feel free to reach out to us at First Editions® with any questions.

If you have a specific plant that you’d like to grow, but it isn’t hardy in your region, consider planting it in a container! This is an easy way to grow unique plants to your zone. Head to our blog on container gardening for more inspiration or to our blog on gardening with Eclipse® in Zone 4 for tips on how to push the zones in your garden.

Plant Zoning for First Editions®

In the First Editions® collection, you’ll find plants all the way from Zone 2 through Zone 10. Check out the plants in our collection to find trees and shrubs that will thrive in your zone.  You can also reference our blog on Rock Star Plants for a complete list of stunning plants that are sure to rock your yard.

For even more tips and tricks, be sure to follow us on social media and sign up for our newsletter. Shop the First Editions® collection online during our shipping season or utilize our Find a Retailer tool to locate First Editions® plants near you.