Wisconsin Hardiness Zones: 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b
Wisconsin is known as “America’s Dairyland,” because it leads the nation in milk production. The geography of Wisconsin is diverse with plains, highlands and lowlands. There are millions of acres of farmland, as well as forests, hills, rivers, and marshland.
The state borders two great lakes which dictate much of the climate from comfortably warm summers to cold, snowy winters and two distinct seasons in between.
The temperature in Wisconsin varies across a wide range. Summers are warm and can reach highs of 90 degrees, while winter temperatures plummet to as low as -35. The whole state receives winter snowfall; the northwest region has snow on the ground for more days in the year. Yearly rainfall in Wisconsin averages 35 inches.
Much of the year in Wisconsin is cloudy. The growing season is short due to freezing temperatures. However, you can grow very successfully if you take these details into consideration.
- If you live in the coldest part of Wisconsin, the north west corner near Hayward, you are in the only area of the state in plant hardiness zone 3b.
- The coast of Lake Michigan is the warmest zone of the state; If you live here you are in zone 5b.
- Heading west from the coast the zone moves to 5a.
- The majority of the rest of the state sits in USDA planting zone 4.
- The zones in the north experience colder temperatures, and as they move south they warm up.
Above you can see a plant hardiness map of Wisconsin. The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map was designed to help gardeners and farmers see what the growing season is like where they live and what plants will thrive in that climate.
The first thing you want to do is find your location on the map. The color on the map in your location can be matched to the legend on the side to see what zone you live in. The legend will tell you which growing zone that is.
Keep in mind that this zone is just a guideline. This is because there is more than just temperature that affects growing seasons. As well, temperatures, frost dates and melting times can all vary from year to year, which could affect the overall health of your garden.
Your yard can become a “micro-climate.” This can happen in yards that are full of stone walkways, large rocks, or ponds, for example. Large plants or plants in specific areas of your yard also can create a micro-climate. If your yard is a micro-climate, it could mean that you are now a different zone from the surrounding area.
The growing season in Wisconsin is short, but that doesn’t mean that your garden will be inadequate. There are many types of fruits and vegetables that can successfully grow in Wisconsin, as long as you keep your zone in mind.
According to Elbert’s Greenhouse in Ixonia, WI, vegetables that can be grown in this region include onions, tomatoes and celery, as well as fruit like blueberries. Annual flowers can grow in almost any region, but perennials that will do best in the growing zones of Wisconsin include smooth hydrangea and Vanhouffe spirea.
When choosing plants, it is important to consider not only what zones the plants thrive best in, but also how quickly they mature. When you are working with a short growing season, you want to choose plants that mature quickly. Whenever possible, choose plants that are resistant to frost.