Gardeners in Pennsylvania have a wide variety of plant choices due to the varied landscape and climate. Several distinct zones of planting exist, from frigid to humid to subtropical. If you live in PA, knowing your specific gardening zone is key to growing flowers, vegetables, shrubs and trees best suited to your region.
Understanding the usda plant hardiness zones
The United States Department of Agriculture has established planting zones that help gardeners narrow down which plants thrive in their neck of the woods. The zones are based on each region’s lowest average annual winter temperature. Zone numbers range from 1 coldest to 13 warmest. Generally, each zone is 10°F warmer in average low temps than the previous one as you move up the scale. Pennsylvania spans a wide gamut of zones due to the diversity in altitude and climate between the northern and southern parts of the state. Choosing plants according to your specific zone will give PA gardeners more flexibility. Here are the five planting zones found across different areas of Pennsylvania along with their temperature ranges:
- Zone 5 (-10°F to -20°F): Northern and mountainous regions of Pennsylvania
- Zone 6 (0°F to -10°F): Most of central and northeast Pennsylvania
- Zone 7 (10°F to 0°F): South eastern parts of the state
- Zone 8 (20°F to 10°F): Extreme southeast only
- Zone 9 (30°F to 20°F): Very limited microclimates
Zones for Pennsylvania Planting
With Pennsylvania covering so many gardening zones, what planting zone is pa? how do you find out your specific zone? Here are some tips:
- Check the USDA Zone Map – The USDA’s online interactive map help you drill down to your county’s zone. But this general map does not reflect microclimates.
- Contact the Local extension office – Your county’s cooperative extension service will have zone info for your specific area. Their planting recommendations are also customized.
- Go by ZIP code – Some online tools allow you to search your ZIP code to see the assigned zone. But zones vary within a ZIP code, so use it as a starting point.
- Observe your area’s weather – If you’ve lived in your neighbourhood for a while, you likely know which plants survive your winters. Calculate your zone using this knowledge.
- Ask neighbours – Fellow gardeners in your neighbourhood share which zones they use when choosing plants. But their microclimate differs from yours.
Observe winter temperatures and plant survival in your backyard to determine your Pennsylvania planting zone.
Top zone-specific plants for PA gardens
Here are some of the best types of plants to grow for the most common gardening zones found across Pennsylvania:
Zone 5 (-10°F to -20°F)
- Trees: maple, oak, spruce, fir, pine
- Shrubs: viburnum, bayberry, juniper
- Perennials: chrysanthemum, delphinium, hosta
Zone 6 (0°F to -10°F)
- Trees: crabapple, birch, beech, ash
- Shrubs: hydrangea, sumac, roses
- Perennials: coneflower, coral bells, iris
Zone 7 (10°F to 0°F)
- Trees: cherry, pecan, persimmon
- Shrubs: camellia, vitex, buckeye
- Perennials: penstemon, Shasta daisy, veronica
Pennsylvania has a more continental climate than other states at similar latitudes on the East Coast due to being farther inland. The Appalachian Mountains running through central Pennsylvania create high elevations that experience cooler temperatures than lower-lying regions. These temperature variations are reflected in the different planting zones.
Planting your garden in the right planting zone in Pennsylvania will give you a garden full of vigorous, successful plants. Refer to this guide and utilize the zone-finding tips to determine the optimal region for your backyard. Plant some zone-specific flowers, shrubs, and trees in your Pennsylvania garden paradise.