US Hardiness Zones
Below is a listing of U.S. "Hardiness Zones" for seeds, bulbs and plants, as determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When ordering, you can determine if the item will be "Winter Hardy" in your area by checking the "Zone" information on the item's description page.
You may determine which climatic zone you are in by checking this map. However, this is only a guide since conditions for growing will vary in certain areas.
This map also serves as a rough guide for American Meadows’ Spring Bulb and Perennial shipping schedule. Each spring as products become available, we begin monitoring the weather and shipping orders once the threat of frost has been minimized. We start with the warmest zones (such as 8-10) and work our way north as spring arrives. In the fall, we reverse the process for fall bulbs as winter approaches.
How to Identify Your Gardening Season and its Limitations with Plant Hardiness Zones
Not all growing seasons are created equal. Plants have preferred climates and altitudes based on millions of years of diversifying and adapting to locations specifically for them. In other words, a tropical palm tree would probably not survive if it was planted in the Antarctic tundra. Makes sense, right?
On a smaller scale, certain plants might thrive in North Carolina, but not survive our winters here in the northeast. When you can identify your specific gardening season and its limitations, you can start to narrow down a plant palette for your garden that will thrive and grow every year.
Identifying Your Plant Hardiness Zone
The first step in understanding what plants will thrive in your garden is to know what plant hardiness zone you live in. If you are unsure what this is, find your location on the map above to get your hardiness zone level. What you will see is a scale 1 – 13 that categorizes every location in the United States based on its average annual extreme minimum temperature (the lowest temperature of the year averaged out over time).
The coldest regions further north and higher in altitude are 1 on the scale, while the hottest regions are 13. This scale is further subdivided with 1a being colder than 1b, and 2a being colder than 2b, etc. So this is the type of number that you will receive when you check what hardiness zone you live in. The majority of the northeast tends to fall somewhere between 3 and 6.
So now that you know what zone you live in, how is this information going to help?
How Your Plant Hardiness Zone Helps You Choose Plants for Your Garden
Every plant has been identified for what zones it will survive in. All you need to do is know what zone your garden is and then select plants that are labeled to be in that range. For instance, if you want to buy Monarda bradburiana, or bee balm, you can simply check the tag or online product details to find that its hardiness zone is 4-8. If your garden is a 3, it will have difficulty growing there, possibly dying off in the cold winters. If you garden is a 6, then Monarda will happily thrive.
Knowing your zone is critical before selecting plants because it allows you to purchase the ones that have adapted to thrive in your specific location. Choosing the right plants for the right spot gives you a fuller, brighter, healthier garden that typically requires less work.
Identifying Microclimates in Your Plant Hardiness Zone
Now that you’ve narrowed down your options into a plant palette that survives in your hardiness zone, we can zoom in even farther to microclimates. Your property is most-likely not a “one size fits all” in terms of planting spots. Take a moment now to visualize all of the different microclimates you have. Some examples include:
- North side of home / Under a tree (Full Shade)
- Open Field / South Side of Home (Full Sun)
- East Side of House (Part Sun / Morning Sun)
- Rocky Hill (Quick Drainage and Sun)
- Stream Bed (Clay and Wet)
- Forest Floor (Dense Shade and Dry)
There are many different microclimates that can be on one single property, or can vary from neighbor to neighbor. Identifying what these conditions are for your garden is the next step for properly selecting plants. Choosing plants that will thrive next to your pond versus on a rocky hilltop must be approached in an entirely different way.
To do this, first recognize where you want to plant. Then analyze how much sunlight that location gets in a day, scaling from dense shade to full sun. Next, determine how dry or wet the location is; is it in a lowland spot that fills with water after a rain, or a dry hilltop? From there, you can narrow down the plant palette you will work from. Make sure to look at the information provided for each plant online or ask a professional at the nursery if you’re unsure.
Always Remember: “Right Plant, Right Place!”
Remember, plants have adapted to grow and survive over millions of years. If you select the right plant for the right place it will thrive with very little input from you. It will give you more growth, more blooms, and less work to do in your garden. Alternatively, if you select a plant that is out of your hardiness zone level, or is planted in the shade when it wants sun, it will suffer, underperform, and eventually die.
Understanding these limitations may seem overwhelming when selecting plants for your garden but don’t worry! Simply start with knowing your hardiness zone and shopping for plants that fall within that range. From there, the label and planting information will tell you everything you need to know about if that plant will thrive in your specific location. In no time at all you will become familiar with the plant palette adapted for your garden and, after planting it all out, you will be ready to sit back and watch everything grow!
American Meadows Product Guarantee
Top-quality seeds, bulbs and perennial plants are all we sell. They are the very freshest and finest available anywhere and we work with our growers and importers to ensure that you receive products that will bring you back to American Meadows year after year.
If any American Meadows product fails to grow, just let us know any time within one year of delivery. We will happily replace it without charge, or refund your money, whichever you prefer. For over 25 years, we have guaranteed our products and we stand by our commitment to provide you with the highest quality gardening products available anywhere.
"I have ordered bulbs & seed from this company about half a dozen times, each time I was happy. I ordered the Southeastern Mix & the All Annual mix, both bloomed great. I have also ordered a few hundred bulbs from them & had great blooms the next spring & fall."