USDA Alaska Hardiness Zones: 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
Alaska has a reputation for being an Arctic climate, with long, frigid winters and lots and lots of snow. But in reality, only about ¼ of Alaska is in this arctic area, with the rest having a bit more varied climate.
As a result, some parts of Alaska will see temperatures ranging from around 13 degrees Fahrenheit in winter to 60 degrees and up in the summer. Some areas will even hit the nineties during the hottest parts of the year.
Alaska Planting Zone – A Quick Overview:
- The northern ¼ of Alaska is in the Arctic circle, and few people live there.
- In most of Alaska, the winter days are very short with almost no sunlight, but the summer days are exceptionally long, with birds singing through the night.
- The Southeast Alaska growing season is 172 days long.
- The growing season in the Arctic Barrow is only 17 days long.
- Greenhouses help to shelter plants where the growing season is short.
- Tok is in growing zone 1a and Fairbanks is zone 2a, while Barrow is zone 2b.
- Nome is located in zone 3b, Anchorage is zone 4b and Kodiak is considered zone 7a.
Using the Alaska Growing Zones Map
Take a look at the map of the Alaska hardiness zones based on the 2012 USDA map data. The zones you see on the map were created to help farmers and gardeners understand the best plants to plant in their area. In addition, the map can tell you when your growing season starts and ends so that you can plan accordingly.
If you find Alaska on the map, the colors of each area will coordinate with the key at the right. This key can tell you the planting zones throughout the state. Overall, the more northern parts of Alaska are colder, and the southern regions are warmer.
Looking at the map, you can see how the Alaska state gardening zones are laid out, with zones 1a and 1b near the top, and zones 5a, 5b, and 6a and 6b are more towards the southern part of the state, with small sections even getting as warm as 8b.
There may be exceptions to the Alaska climate zones, however. Variations in elevation and terrain can create micro-climates or small pockets where the climate might be different than expected. Depending on the terrain, even if you live in Zone 3a, your local area might act more like Zone 2a or even 4a.
To find out more about your specific Alaska growing zone, you can ask local gardeners and farmers how they plan their gardens. They’ll help you figure out precisely what climate you are in and how to prepare for it, especially if your micro-climate is a little different than expected.
You can also create your own micro-climates by adding plants and trees that work as windbreaks or shelters for other plants. Buildings can also act as windbreaks, and certain kinds of foliage can reflect heat back towards your garden to give your plants a little extra boost.
Alaska: Short Days and Long Nights Can Make Growing Tricky
Alaska’s growing season is quite unique, considering some areas have sunlight almost all summer long while other times of year are almost in complete darkness. However, many people living in the state successfully grow gardens with amazing vegetables.
First, greenhouses can help extend the growing season in areas where the season is exceptionally short. Growing vegetables in a greenhouse can protect them from the cold air and help them germinate sooner.
Also, cool-season vegetables, such as brassicas and greens, will thrive in Alaska’s cooler climate. Finally, consider growing cool-weather vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, lettuce, and kale. These vegetables don’t grow well in the heat, but they can thrive in the cool climate of the Alaskan summers.
Trees to Plant in Alaska
USDA Zone 4
USDA Zone 5
USDA Zone 6
USDA Zone 7
USDA Zone 8
Fern has planted and currently cares for over 100 different native and exotic fruit, nut, and ornamental trees.
She also cultivates an extensive vegetable garden, several flower gardens and cares for an ever-growing happy family of indoor plants.
Fern has a special interest in biodynamic farming, food production and closed loop agriculture.
Fern founded Tree Vitalize to help guide others with an interest in tree planting, identification and care.