Planting in North Carolina Using the USDA Plant Hardiness Map
If you live in North Carolina, you enjoy a relatively temperate climate, which makes it possible to grow a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and perennial flowers. The 2012 North Carolina USDA planting map, as seen above, indicates which growing zones cover certain areas of the state. While the northwestern part of the state has the coolest average extreme winter lows, down to a possible -15 degrees F. (-26 C.), the southeastern part of the state rarely experiences winter lows to 15 degrees F. (-9 C.). North Carolina zones range from a 5b to 8b.
To find your location, you can enlarge the above map. You can also visit the USDA site and put in your zip code if you are uncertain of where you fall within the zones. The new 2012 map is more detailed than previous versions and offers a more sophisticated zone finder capability. The new map, released at the beginning of 2012, takes into account 30 years of weather data collected from thousands of weather stations throughout the United States. Each zone is in 10-degree increments and further divided into 5-degree subzones. Factors such as elevation and proximity to a large body of water have also been used to calculate the zones.
Although many plants survive the North Carolina winter, there are some tropical species that will not, and gardeners living in the mountain regions have to be careful of their plant selection as well. Overall, using the North Carolina USDA zone hardiness map provides good foundational knowledge for any gardener.