If you’ve done any reading about gardening, you’ve probably noticed USDA plant hardiness zones again and again. These zones are mapped across the U.S. and Canada and are meant to give you a sense of which plants will thrive in which area. USDA zones are based on the coldest temperature an area tends to reach in the winter, separated by increments of 10 degrees F. (-12 C.). If you do an image search, you’ll find countless examples of this map and should be able to find your own zone easily. That being said, this article focuses on gardening in USDA zone 6. Keep reading to learn more.
Growing Zone 6 Plants
Basically, the lower a zone number is, the colder that area’s weather is. Zone 6 usually experiences a yearly low of -10 F. (-23 C.). It stretches in something like an arc, more or less, across the middle of the U.S. In the northeast, it runs from parts of Massachusetts down into Delaware. It stretches south and west through Ohio, Kentucky, Kansas, and even parts of New Mexico and Arizona before turning northwest up through Utah and Nevada, ending in Washington state.
If you live in zone 6, you may be scoffing at the idea of lows like this because you’re used to warmer or colder temperatures. It’s not at all foolproof, but it’s a very good guideline. Planting and growing zone 6 plants typically begins around mid-March (after the last frost) and continues through mid-November.
Best Plants for Zone 6
If you look at a seed packet or information tag on a plant, it ought to have a USDA zone mentioned somewhere – this is the coldest area that plant is likely to survive in. So can all zone 6 plants and flowers survive temperatures down to -10 F (-23 C.)? No. That number tends to apply to perennials that are meant to survive the winter.
Plenty of zone 6 plants and flowers are annuals that are supposed to die with the frost, or perennials meant for a warmer zone that can be treated as annuals. Gardening in USDA zone 6 is very rewarding because so many plants do well there.
While you may have to start some seeds indoors in March and April, you can transplant your seedlings outside in May or June and experience a long, productive growing season. The best plants for zone 6 that can be sown outside as early as March are cold weather crops like lettuce, radishes, and peas. Of course, many other vegetables perform well in zone 6 too, including common garden varieties of:
Perennial favorites that thrive in this zone include:
Common shrubs known to grow well in Zone 6 are:
Note that these are just some of the plants that grow well in zone 6, as the variety and flexibility this zone offers makes the actual list quite long. Check with your local extension office for more information on specific plants in your area.