USDA Montana Hardiness Zones: 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a
Montana, home of the Glacier National Park, is a popular tourist destination. Montana is known for its snowy winters and variable (but short!) summers.
Montana is the perfect state to visit if you love the outdoors in the winter months. But did you know that Montana is also the ideal state to grow various fruits and vegetables? According to Farm Flavor, Montana is the perfect state to grow wheat, sweet cherries, and potatoes.
The general climate classification of Montana is cold semi-arid steppe. However, Montana’s geography is broken into two regions. Both regions experience different weather patterns.
The climate of the western region near the Rocky Mountains tends to be somewhat milder than the climate of the eastern region. This is because the Pacific Ocean’s air helps keep the summers cool and the winters mild. The eastern region, though, may experience warmer summers and colder winters.
Because the weather is so varied, Montana is classified into seven planting zones. The planting zones of Montana are 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, and 6a.
Montana Planting Zone – A Quick Overview
- Your gardening zone is 3a if you live in Wisdom or Redstone.
- If you live in Sheridan County, you live in the 3b planting zone. Parts of Garfield County, Phillips County, and Hill County are also in planting zone 3b.
- If you live in the surrounding area of Miles City, you likely live in the 4a planting zone. Sidney and Cut Bank are also in the 4a planting zone.
- Helena is classified as planting zone 4b. Billings is also in the 4b planting zone.
- Most of Madison County is considered the 5a planting zone. Some areas in Big Horn County are also planting zone 5a.
- Hamilton and its surrounding area are classified as planting zone 5b.
- If you live in Belknap, your gardening zone is 6a.
Using the Montana Growing Zones Map
Raising a productive vegetable garden or a beautiful flower garden in Montana is not hard if you know your growing zone. Knowing your growing zone (sometimes referred to as planting zones or plant hardiness zones) is vital when choosing which plants and flowers for your garden area.
Luckily, the USDA created a map that labels each growing zone in the United States. The 2012 Plant Hardiness Zone Map is an accurate tool many gardeners, farmers, and planters use each year before picking their plants and shrubs.
Much of the information gathered from the map can be found on plant tags, too. Knowing your growing zone makes going to the nursery and choosing appropriate plants easy!
The USDA Plant Hardiness Map is color-coded. Each growing zone is coded by a specific color, making the map easy to read. After accessing the map, click the state of Montana.
If you know the general area of your garden or field, zoom into the location and match the map’s color to the legend on the side of the map. Enter your address and zip code into the search bar to determine your growing zone more accurately.
Montana has a variety of gardening zones ranging from 3a to 6a. Depending on where you live, your specific planting zone may be 3a, but your neighbor a few miles from you may be in planting zone 4b. This is why it is essential to know your specific planting zone for your area.
It’s also helpful to consider the micro-climate of your garden area. If you live on the downslopes of a mountain or hill, your garden’s micro-climate may be different than the surrounding area.
Slope, soil type, temperature, humidity, and wind, among other things, are factors that affect the micro-climate. Because of this, your micro-climate and growing zone may vary.
Montana: Seven Planting Zones and a Mix of Climates
Montana has a relatively short growing season compared to other states in the United States. The length of the growing season is only about 100 days in length. The year’s last frost, otherwise known as the beginning of planting season, can be anywhere from the end of May to the beginning of July, depending on where you live.
Although the growing season is short, many plants do well in Montana. If you want a vegetable garden, consider planting beets, spinach, or chives. If flowers like to grow flowers, think about lilies of the valley, ferns, or foxglove. Big Tree Nursery, located in Moorhead, Montana, advises planting sycamores, maples, and birch trees for shade.