People visiting the South often note that our gardens and lawns are bigger on average than those found in the rest of the county.
There’s a reason for this: our climate smiles upon gardening. We enjoy an extended growing season that makes gardening a year-round activity. Now, the South is big enough to be divided into six USDA Planting Zones. In our gardening guides, Southern Living maps growing zones stretching from Maryland to Texas, from the Blue Ridge mountains to the tropical keys. Every gardeners first move is to understand the growing zone in which they live—which plants have the hardiness to withstand longer winters of the Upper South USDA Planting Zone 6 and which have the hardiness to tolerate the extreme temperatures of the Tropical South USDA Planting Zone 10-11.
It’s important to note that because the USDA Planting Zones map reflects minimum yearly temperatures, it functions solely as a cold-hardiness map. In the South, however, heat is as much a limiting factor as cold. Therefore, when we give a plant a Southern Living climate zone rating, we take into account both summer heat and winter cold. This is the key for successful gardening in your growing zone. Crepe myrtle does not have the cold hardiness, while hydrangea and other temperate plants may fail in the tropical south. Follow our guide to know which plants can withstand your neighborhood’s climate.