Best Plants for Your Growing Zone and Climate
If you’ve read our blog post about hardiness zones and climate, you may be wondering, “Okay, then what can I grow in my Zone 5 garden that gets a lot of rain?” Lucky for you, we’ve created some fun categories to help you out — because gardening is most fun and rewarding when you see the plants actually thriving instead of limping along, right? Nobody’s got time for a limping garden.
While some states like California, Nevada, and Arizona are more susceptible to drought conditions, the fact is that any growing zone can experience drought conditions.
You’ll be happy to know that if you live in one of these areas, your only options are not simply cacti. Although we have nothing against a perfectly good cactus, it’s good to know a fuller range of drought tolerant plants, right? Here are some less thirsty beauties for you:
Agapanthus Johanna: (Zones 8-11) These tough summer bloomers need some water to get established, but are fairly drought tolerant after that. Which is amazing, considering the brilliant blue flowers it produces. You’d think it was certainly more demanding, but it's not!
Gaillardia Arizona Sun: (Zones 3-9) Despite its name, this flower blooms bright in a wide range of growing zones without soaking up too much water — a low-maintenance head-turner for sure.
- Daylily Entrapment: (Zones 3-9) This vivid flower is one tough cookie once it’s established — with a dazzling color display in the spring and another show in the fall.
Gardeners who live in tropical or subtropical areas need plants that will thrive in higher heat, higher humidity, varying degrees of rainfall (wet and dry seasons), and lots of sunshine. Whew! That’s a tall order. If that’s you, you’re likely living in areas of Florida, the Gulf Coast, or southern Florida, and we’ve got some lovely suggestions for you as well. (Live in a cooler region? Enjoy these tropical beauties during the summer.)
Canna Golden Lucifer: (Zones 8-11) These upright plants have outrageous yellow petals with red speckles, along with the jumbo foliage that screams “tropical” from the rooftops. Best part? They are perfectly suited to those growing conditions.
Alocasia Giant Elephant Ear: (Zones 9-12) Nothing quite says hot and steamy like elephant ears — while they may not have the flower power that other plants provide, their oversized leaves present plenty of drama on their own.
- Ginger Bicolor Wonder: (Zones 8-11) This plant has everything you want in a tropical trooper — 6’ tall foliage and purple-tinged pinecone-shaped flower bracts.
We haven’t forgotten you folks in the north! Your particular challenge is to find plants that are happy to rest under layers of ice and snow, then emerge with their flowers in the spring.
Clematis Paniculata: (Zones 4-8) Creamy white flowers on a 15’ vine that blooms in late summer/early fall? Oh, and super hardy in the winter? Yep, this is the one you want.
Hollyhock Spotlight Series Blacknight: (Zones 3-9) How about some moody purple-black blooms on 6’ tall flower stalks? We thought you’d like that!
- Reblooming Bearded Iris Bernice’s Legacy: (Zones 3-9) This garnet-hued bearded iris is not only amazingly cold hardy, it’s drought-tolerant and deer-resistant as well. It’s a keeper for sure.
If you live in a “temperate” climate, your area enjoys all four seasons without enduring extreme temperatures in winter and summer. It’s neither bitterly cold nor blistering hot, neither too wet nor too dry. Kind of sounds like heaven, you lucky dogs. So if this is where you live, you’ve got lots of enviable plant choices, including:
Tulip Apricot Beauty: (Zones 3-8) Tulips do need that winter chill in order to bloom, and aside from that, their needs are pretty moderate — ideal for climates where nothing is too extreme! And look at that color, will you? A rosy apricot that is perfectly delightful.
Butterfly Bush Buzz Lavender: (Zones 6-9) This fragrant, compact shrub lures in butterflies and hummingbirds with its delicate lavender blooms. It’ll take some winter chill and summer heat, all with some moderate watering — kind of perfect, if you ask us.
- Geranium Sanguineum: (Zones 5-8) Masses of magenta flowers in the summer, and both heat tolerant and cold hardy? That’s right! Can’t ask much more of a plant, can you?
- Katie Elzer-Peters