West Virginia Hardiness Zones: 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a
West Virginia is known as The Mountain State because of the rugged terrain. The state is completely covered by mountain ranges, with hills, valleys, plateaus and high peaks.
West Virginia features four distinct seasons. The weather can get down to the low teens with snow through the winter, and hit a high of nearly 3 digits in summer. Although winters are cold, they are mild and much of the state hovers around a comfortable 80 degrees through the summer.
The humidity in West Virginia is usually comfortable however, July can feel muggy. July is also the wettest month of the year, getting approximately 5 inches of rain. The annual precipitation averages 44 inches of rain and 36 inches of snow. This can make for good growing conditions
- If you live in the West Virginia mountains, you are in the highest elevation and coldest area of the state in plant hardiness zone 5a or 5b
- A large portion of the state, particularly on the eastern side, is in planting zone 6a
- Much of the rest of the state, as you move to the southwest, sits in plant hardiness zone 6b, having mild winters and warm summers
- There are only a few scattered pockets, mostly around Charleston, that are classified as planting zone 7a
The USDA created the hardiness map or growing zones map for gardeners and farmers to understand the growing climate and growing season in their area. The map provides the information needed to choose the plants that will thrive and to see what the best time is to plant them.
The map of West Virginia above is provided based on the information in the 2012 USDA map data. To use it, you first find your location on the map, or search by zip code.
Discover the map color in your region, and compare it with the color option in the legend. That will tell you what level your growing zone is. You can use this information to determine your growing season. When choosing plants, check the information to ensure they can survive in your growing zone.
One important factor to remember is that the information from the USDA is just a guide. There are cases where it will not be completely accurate.
For example, frost and precipitation can vary from year to year. Following planting and care instructions is the best place to start. And remember, plants can always be brought indoors for winter if you are afraid they will not survive.
Depending on what area of West Virginia you live in, the growing season can vary a fair amount. Higher up in the mountains, the growing season may begin in mid-April, with the first frost of the fall being in early September.
Further south in the state, the growing season can begin as early as March with the first frost happening later in October. It is very important in West Virginia to use your hardiness zone as a guide for growing a successful garden.
According to Freed’s Greenhouse, you can grow a beautiful flower garden, or delicious vegetables for fall. In the south of the state, you can grow a wide selection of squash, tomatoes, greens and cucumbers starting after the last frost in March.
In the higher elevation areas, stick to plants that mature quicker like greens and peas, or start your plants earlier in the year indoors to ensure they mature fully.