3 Things to Know About the USDA Hardiness Zone Updates

The updated USDA zone map has been released! Although some areas didn’t change, many places did see a shift. It can be a little nerve-wracking to hear about a big change to our gardening lives; USDA zones are a vital part of the way we understand our spaces and choose plants. I’m here to tell you not to worry too much, this change isn’t as disruptive as it may feel. For instance, my garden used to be listed as 5b and now it is 6a. My existing plants can stay and on the bright side, I might be able to confidently grow things I haven’t tried before.

There are three big things you need to know about the USDA zone update. We’ve summarized them into bite-sized talking points you can share with your gardening pals:

1

The last update to the USDA zone map was in 2012 and used data from roughly eight thousand weather stations. This new update uses over thirteen thousand! The map is more accurate than ever.

2

Zones are determined by the average lowest temperature an area receives each year. Using an average, instead of just the lowest recorded temperature ever, provides a reasonable guess at what our gardens will actually experience year after year.

The 2023 USDA zone update uses data collected over the past 30 years and, of course, includes the 11 years since the last update. 

3

This does not impact the zone listings on the plants you buy. The temperature ranges of their hardiness are the same, it’s only the boundary lines of the USDA zone map that have changed. If your zone changed, it was in name only. You’ve been able to grow more tender plants for a while now.

If you need a general refresher on what USDA zones are all about, read this.

Comments (21)

  1. Dr. Phil Spears

    Hi Kristina, thank you so very much for the information about the zones. I wasn’t aware of the changes.
    Thank you, Dr. Phil Spears🌹🤠

    • Kristina Howley

      Glad to share the update!

    • Kristina Howley

      Absolutely! The change came swiftly!

  2. Susan Kester

    Thank you, Kristina. I didn’t know the Zones had been updated. Mine didn’t change in Lubbock, Texas, but it’s good to know of the updates. Thank you for bringing this to us.

    • Kristina Howley

      So glad you were able to confirm that!

  3. M Sue Johnson

    I knew nothing about zone #’s changing . I am in Carmel In . Can you confirm my .planting zone mow ?

    • Kristina Howley

      I can confirm that you garden in hardiness zone 6a.

  4. Patricia Hornbeck

    Thank you so much Kristina, I’m a Master Gardener in Kansas. I will pass this on to my fellow gardeners.
    Patricia

    • Kristina Howley

      Thank you for sharing the info with your friends, it’s good to make sure we’re all up to date!

  5. Nancy Still

    alwaysstill7@gmail. com

    • Kristina Howley

      Hi there! Did you have a question?

  6. Shirley Gardner

    Thanks! I can now look at some plants I did not think I could grow.

    • Kristina Howley

      Change is sometimes exciting like that!

  7. Jackie Godwin

    I’m so glad you stay on top of the climate changes for all of us plant growers. Thank you for that. I’m so looking forward to the spring weather. I talk to my plants when I cover them for the winter

    • Kristina Howley

      Happily! We want our garden friends to be in the know.

  8. Judith Hogan

    I’m not surprised, and guessed as much with the over the top weather we’ve been having. I’m in 7b.
    You providing the updates from proven Winners (a reliable source), just confirmed it for me.
    Thanks for sharing..

    • Kristina Howley

      Change is certainly always happening with our gardens, but it’s nice to have it confirmed! Hopefully the confirmation helps you adjust your gardening practices a little easier.

  9. Linda Berry

    What the zone for Oklahoma

  10. carmen

    according to the actual temperatures on the map, I am in zone 5a. But when I put in my zip code it says 6b. Just ridiculous. My winter temps last year , -20F several times and if I buy plants for zone 6b they won’t live. Buy plants for the lowest temp you have or you will be wasting your money. It doesn’t matter if the temps are more mild the rest of the time. It only takes those few days to kill it.

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Kristina Howley

I am all in when it comes to gardening. Almost every part of the experience delights me – new leaves emerging in spring, pollinators buzzing in summer, birds devouring berries in fall, and the somber beauty of seed heads in winter. Thanks to a background in horticulture and gardening my own clay-filled, flowery USDA zone 5b plot, I’ve learned plenty of practical things as well. I like sharing these joys and lessons with my fellow gardeners and soon-to-be gardeners any way I can.

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