USDA California Hardiness Zones: 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a
California is well-loved for its Mediterranean-like climate, featuring balmy dry summer times and mild winters where it is pleasant to be outside all year round. But the climate of California is a lot more varied than you might expect.
For example, you might be surprised to find that while the coastal weather is milder, higher elevations experience all four seasons, including snow.
When it comes to planting zones, California is often broken down into Northern and Southern California, because the state is so large. Northern California includes zones 5a to 10b while Southern California incoporates the same planting zones, with the addition of zone 11a.
California Planting Zone – A Quick Overview:
- California has a wide variety of planting zones.
- If you live in the southernmost parts of the state, on the east and west sides, you’ll find planting zones from 9a to as high as 11a in the hottest parts.
- On the opposite end, if you live in the northeastern areas of the state, you’re likely to find zones 6a, 6b, and 7a.
- The mountains with higher elevation in the northeast areas can go as low as 5a and 5b.
- Of course, if you live along the coastal areas, you may be in 9b and 10a planting zones.
Using the California Growing Zones Map
This California hardiness zones map comes from the 2012 USDA map data. The USDA created this valuable data to help farmers and gardeners know what to plant and when to plant for the best gardens and crops.
The quickest means of finding your specific California gardening zone is to enter your zip code. The color of the area you live in will match to the color on the legend at the right of the map. This legend will tell you which zone you live in.
For example, the hardiness zone will help you find your frost dates and help you know when is the best time to plant in your garden.
This map is just a guide, and your California climate zone may be a little bit different due to the terrain around you. For example, living near mountains, valleys, or deserts may significantly impact the growing zone around you.
If you need help deciphering the California hardiness zone you live in, you can talk to local farmers or gardeners for specific advice. You can also adjust the micro-climate you live in, to some extent. For example, large trees or small buildings can protect your garden from high winds.
Swales can be dug to direct water towards your garden for irrigation or away from it if flooding is an issue. You can even erect stone walls to help reflect heat back towards the garden.
California: All Kinds of Weather for All Kinds of Growing
Since the weather is so varied in California, you’ll want to think about which grow zone and climate you are in before you plan your garden. For example, if you’re in southern California, you can easily grow tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, carrots, and beets.
If you’re more towards San Diego, which is classified as zone 10b, you need to look for more drought-tolerant plants. The Walter Anderson Nursery says that due to the year-round temperature, root vegetables can be planted year-round, and cool weather crops like lettuce and spinach can be planted in the winter months.
Then again, San Francisco can be home to a garden of corn, tomatoes, peppers, and even eggplant. In addition, you can grow cool-weather crops such as lettuce, radishes, and spinach all year.
Higher elevations will have the shortest growing seasons, so you’ll need to find plants that grow quickly, such as salad greens, peas, and radishes.