USDA North Carolina Hardiness Zones: 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
North Carolina, a popular tourist destination, is known for its diverse landscape. North Carolina is home to the Great Smokey Mountains, Grandfather Mountain, and the well-known Outer Banks.
Because the landscape is so diverse, North Carolina is a leading agricultural producer of several crops, including Christmas trees, strawberries, and tobacco.
The humid, sub-tropical climate of North Carolina makes for the perfect growing conditions for various plants. Typically, North Carolina’s winters are relatively short and mild. Summer, though, is hot.
The mild winters and the warm summers classify North Carolina into seven plant hardiness zones. The plant hardiness zones of North Carolina are 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, and 8b.
North Carolina Planting Zone – A Quick Overview
- Although the USDA classifies part of North Carolina in the 5b planting subzone, you’ll likely only find that planting zone on the highest peaks of the Great Smokey Mountains, such as in Alleghany County.
- If you live on the Tennessee border, you likely live in the 6a, 6b or 7a planting zones. Boone is classified as the 6b planting zone, while Asheville is considered the 7a planting zone. The difference between these two planting zones is a difference of five degrees between their minimum temperatures.
- The area surrounding Charlotte is classified as the 7b and 8a planting zones.
- Greensboro and its surrounding locations are classified as the 7b planting zone.
- The eastern part of the state, including Greenville and Wilmington, is classified as planting zone 8a.
- The 8b planting zone is found in the far coastal edges of North Carolina, such as Dare County.
Using the North Carolina Growing Zones Map
Raising a productive garden in North Carolina is easy, thanks to its climate and various planting zones. But, to make sure your plants are healthy and thriving, you need first to determine your gardening zone (also called planting zones, plant hardiness zones, or growing zones) before you plant anything outdoors.
In 2012, the USDA created the Plant Hardiness Zone Map. This map is a helpful tool that color codes each plant hardiness zone in the United States. Over the years, this map has become an essential reference tool many gardeners and growers use. You’ll likely see mention of plant hardiness zones all over the greenhouse or the nursery.
Using the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is simple. All you need to do is click on the state of North Carolina. You’ll then see a map that ranges mostly from green to light tan. Each color variation represents one of the seven growing zones of North Carolina.
If you know the general area of your garden plot, zoom in on the map to get a better idea of your gardening zone. Then, match the map’s color to the legend on the side of the map. Or, for my specific information, enter your address and zip code in the search bar.
North Carolina’s mountain ranges and coastal areas play a large part in determining your growing zone. It’s also helpful to remember that the micro-climate of your garden space may be different from the area’s general climate. Several factors affect a micro-climate.
If your garden plot is on a downslope or you’re planting near pavement, like a parking lot, the wind from the slopes or the excess heat may affect temperature and evaporation rates. This could alter the micro-climate of your space.
North Carolina: Home of the Outer Banks
North Carolina features various landscapes. If you live in the western part of North Carolina, you’re likely to see colder temperatures in early spring compared to your neighbors in the eastern part of the state.
The growing season depends upon your location and can be anywhere from early March to the middle of May. Be sure to check your local weather data to determine the year’s last frost and when you can begin planting outdoors.
If you plan to plant a vegetable, consider planting cabbage, cucumbers, or tomatoes. Each of these crops grows well in the growing zones of North Carolina. Plant butterfly weed, phlox, or hostas to your flower garden for fragrance or pop of color.
Fairview Garden Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, suggests planting hellebores, as they are easy to care for and low maintenance. Aside from Christmas trees, if you want to plant trees to boost the look of your landscape, consider planting oak trees, Sassafras, or Eastern Red Cedar.