Shop for Plants Perfect for Your Zone For a beautiful garden year round you need to choose plants that are right for your climate. The United States Department of Agriculture divides the country by planting zones. You can find your planting zone by researching online to input your zip code or look at a USDA map that shows the numbered zones. The colder your winters are, the lower your zone number will be. Many other countries have their planting zone systems or use the USDA system.
Those who live in zones 9 or higher can have beautiful tropical plants in their outdoor gardens for most of the year. Sun-loving succulents are also a great choice to bring beautiful color and variety to an outdoor patio. Just remember that while tropical plants love moisture, succulents need very little. They can survive long dry spells but should be protected during rainy periods.
Most people in the U.S. are limited in their winter garden choices to plants that can survive in cold temperatures. Most tropicals, succulents and other tender plants or shrubs can be damaged or die in winter in hardiness zones below 9. But there are several types of plants that are considered cold hardy and can survive severe winters. These include Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks), several types of Sedum, Hosta, Snapdragon and many others. Each plant is different, which is why knowing your zone is essential.
Cold hardy plants do best in winter when they are planted in the ground. They can be kept outdoors in containers, but this does present a few issues. Many popular types of pots, including clay and ceramic, can crack or break in freezing temperatures. Container plants do not stay as warm as in-ground plants, so it is a good idea to choose container plants that are hardy to one or two zones colder than yours. For example, if you live in zone 5, plants that are hardy to zone 3 or 4 would be likely to do better in containers in the winter.
If you live in a warm climate, some cold hardy plants might work for you through winter, but some, like Hens and Chicks, seem to prefer the cold for several months. Wherever you live, you can experiment to find out which plants work for you.