Planting Season & USDA Hardiness Zones

Planting season - fire feature with water fountain on Atlanta deck

Springtime in the south marks the beginning of planting season for many outdoor enthusiasts, gardeners, farmers, and homeowners alike. Some people are planting for a living. Many of us however, are trying to spruce up our outdoor living spaces. In many Southeast regions, especially Georgia, the weather can change in an instant. The same can often be said for the Fall. Georgia is known for its beautifully forested landscapes and lush greenery, even in major metropolitan cities like Atlanta. However, sometimes the weather can make it challenging to know exactly WHEN, and equally importantly, WHAT to plant.

For that reason, the USDA has a wonderful document called the USDA HARDINESS ZONES map.  Knowing your zone is the first place to start when gardening and landscaping in Georgia. With this guide, you’ll be able to plant the right plant, in the right place, and have success in your outdoor space!

USDA Planting Season Hardiness Map

Planting Season & USDA Hardiness Zones

According to the USDA,

When designing a successful landscape, it is imperative to determine which hardiness zone you or your clients property is located. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed a Plant Hardiness Zone Map that is based on minimum winter temperature zones.

As you know, not every perennial, shrub, or tree grows and thrives in every climate. When choosing plants for your garden, it’s important to select varieties that can survive and thrive year-round in your area. This is especially true in regions where extreme winter temperatures are normal. It’s vital to “know your zone”.

When designing a successful landscape, it is imperative to determine which hardiness zone your clients’ property is located in. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed a Plant Hardiness Zone Map that is based on minimum winter temperature zones. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperatures of each region and divided into thirteen distinct 10ºF zones, which are further divided into sub-zones of 5°F.

Planting zones are most useful to gardeners growing perennial plants since perennials are meant to live beyond just one growing season. Perennials need to be able to survive winter in your area, so it’s important to know how cold it typically gets in your area and whether a particular plant is hardy enough to survive those temperatures.

Plant Names: The Basics

Common Names: Plants are often classified using common English names such as American Boxwood, Carissa Holly, Tea Olive, and Crape Myrtle. These common names are often used in lieu of more complex botanical names because they are recognizable and easy to pronounce. Problems arise with common names when plantings have more than one. For Example, Liriope muscari is referred to by many common names including Blue Lily Turf, Monkey Grass, and even Border Grass.

Perennial flowers, shrubs, and trees grow best when planted in the appropriate zone. You’ll find that winter damage occurs most often when plants are out of their range or “comfort zone.” When you choose plants for a garden or landscape, avoid selecting plants that are only marginally hardy for your region; that’s when you’ll see winter damage, poor growth, and a reduction in flowering.

Planting native species is a surefire way to achieve a stable garden of any kind. Native plants are which occur naturally where you live! Naturally, they will thrive in their habitat.

See this article on caring for landscaping plants for more.

For annual plants, like vegetables and some flowers, it’s important to pay attention to things like the length of your growing season. For example, what are the typical dates of your first and last frosts? (See local frost dates here.) Because annuals are only meant to last the length of one growing season, planting zones don’t necessarily factor into the equation.

What Works in Georgia?

In Georgia, planting season comes in two phases. First, Spring (March to May), then Fall (mid-July to September). The spring plantings are harvested in June and July, while the fall plantings are harvested from October to December. But, how do you know exactly what to plant?

Well, we’ve got a full list of Shrubs, Plants, and Trees that you can download RIGHT HERE!

Where to Begin?

There are dozens of native and non-native plants that will work in Georgia. To be being, click the link above and download the full USDA Hardiness Zone Guide. Then, let Outdoor Makeover & Living Spaces help you along the way. We specialize in creating your dream outdoor living space. A flower garden, with proper landscaping, can be the start of that dream. Not only will we consider natural factors along, we tie in your personal preferences.

If you’re serious about planting season this Spring, contact us today.