NJ Planting and Growing Zones Explained

gardening

When deciding on which plant to grow, it is crucial to know the climatic factors and the correct growing zone for the plant. New Jersey has an extensive area, and the climate varies significantly from the northern parts of the state to the southern regions. It ranges from hot to cold depending on which part of the state you are in. 

Like other areas in the US, NJ has planting and growing zones that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has mapped out).  Some plants will not grow and thrive in certain areas because of different climatic factors. This piece will highlight the important bits you should understand about NJ growing zones to help you make better planting decisions.

What Are Planting And Growing Zones?

The USDA uses a planting zone (hardiness zone) to categorize different country sections according to weather pattern data. There are 13 planting zones across the US, each separated by a 10-degree range. Gardeners use the Plant Hardiness Zones to select plants based on their ability to withstand certain temperatures and conditions.

The Planting And Growing Zones in New Jersey

plant

New Jersey has a wide variety of microclimates. The state is both a border state and a coastal state. In New Jersey, there are four different planting zones: 6a, 6b, 7a, and 7b.To be successful in gardening or farming, you need to know your zone and its influence on your planting activities. 

This means a lot of different factors can come into play when it comes to growing a plant. There is also a considerable difference in terms of the amount of rainfall each zone receives. To understand the zones better, let us have a look at each of them.

NJ Hardiness Zone 6

The area map for Zone 6 consists of two sections. Zone 6a has an average winter temperature of around 0 to -10 Fahrenheit. In comparison, Zone 6b has an average winter temperature of approximately 5 to -5 Fahrenheit. Both sections have plants that can grow in the corresponding zone. This is the coldest area where the plant is likely to survive.

Gardening in this zone can be advantageous because so many plants do well there. Here, you have the option of starting your seeds indoors in March and April, but you should transplant them outside at the end of May or the beginning of June. The warm season will last until November, giving you plenty of time to enjoy your garden.

Plants That Survive In Zone 6

Peas

Zone 6 is an excellent place to grow vegetables because the growing season is very long. The last frost date is at the beginning of May, and the first frost date is in early November. These dates vary a little, so it is essential to watch the weather before planting. The minimum temperature for zone 6 is -5ºF annually. Below is a list of vegetables that survive in zone 6.

  • Cucumbers
  • Squash
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Lettuce

Some of the shrubs that do well in Zone 6 are;

  • Butterfly bush
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Rhododendron 
  • Azalea
  • Hydrangea
  • Rose
  • Forsythia

Perennials that thrive in Zone 6

  • Daisy
  • Salvia
  • Coral bells
  • Bee balm
  • Hosta
  • Coneflower
  • Hellebore
  • Daylily

Farmers’ Tips for growing in Zone 6

  • Planting an appropriate plant is very important for your region. The hardiness zone guide can help you decide what plants grow best in your area. Your choices include vegetables, fruit and nut trees, and trees and plants that grow in Zone 6.
  • A lot of plants thrive in the garden, but some are not as easy to grow. For these plants, it is best to start with seeds indoors. Consider planting the seeds six weeks before the last frost date or whenever winter ends. Some of these plants are tomatoes, eggplants, pepper, and other plants, which are easily transplanted.
  • Vegetable gardening is a popular activity among US households, with 31.9 million of them participating in it. You can directly plant vegetables, such as beans, cabbage, corn, cucumber, and squash from the beginning of May.
  • The time it takes for a seed to grow into a vegetable is called the maturation time. For instance, lettuce seeds take about eight weeks to mature. When planting, always check the maturation days on the seed packet for the vegetable you want to grow. Doing that will guide you on your planting and expected harvest time.

NJ Hardiness Zone 7

Plants growing in Zone 7 have a more extended season than those in Zone 6 and at an average lowest temperature of 10 degrees higher. As you move into the next zone, the average lowest temperature in that particular zone increases by 10 degrees. There are also many trees, flowers, and vegetables that grow during New Jersey’s winter. Certain varieties of citrus trees also grow in Zone 7.

The first frost in this zone appears around mid-November, with the last one coming in the middle of April. With such a timeline, your plants have enough time to grow to maturity.

Plants that survive in Zone 7

Rhododendron

You can start seeds indoors before the first frost in zone 7. This gives you a few extra weeks to grow vegetables, like broccoli and carrots. For a more extended season, you can plant once in spring and again in late summer. In NJ, there are a few different varieties of plants to grow during the winter. Here are a few trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables that you can grow in Zone 7.

Evergreen vines and shrubs

  • Abelia 
  • Camellia
  • Rhododendron
  • Crossvine 
  • Winter Jasmine  
  • Creeping Phlox  
  • Bergenia  
  • Heuchera 
  • Lilyturf 
  • Lenten Rose 
  • Lavender

Annuals

  • Marigolds 
  • Ageratum 
  • Lantana 
  • Impatiens 
  • Gazania 
  • Nasturtium 
  • Sunflower 
  • Zinnia 
  • Coleus 
  • Petunia 
  • Nicotiana/flowering tobacco 
  • Bacopa 
  • Sweet pea 
  • Moss rose/Portulaca 
  • Heliotrope 
  • Lobelia 
  • Celosia 
  • Geranium 
  • Snapdragon Bachelor’s button 
  • Calendula 
  • Begonia 
  • Cosmos 

Perennial flowers

  • Butterfly weed 
  • Shasta daisy 
  • Lavender 
  • Bleeding heart
  • Hollyhock 
  • Salvia 
  • Clematis Phlox 
  • Chrysanthemum 
  • Bee balm 
  • Aster
  • Painted daisy
  • Basket of gold 
  • Iris 
  • Candytuft 
  • Columbine
  • Coneflower/Echinacea
  • Dianthus 

Farmers’ Tips For Growing in Zone 7

  • According to Axiom Marketing, growing flowers is the most popular gardening activity, with over 73 percent growing them. If you are into flower farming, zone 7 is one of the most popular zones because it is warm enough to produce spring-time perennials and annuals. As long as you watch out for the last frost date, April 15th, you can plant your flowers.
  • April is the perfect month to get packets of annual seeds. You can also plant flower seedlings that have been grown indoors. This way, you extend the blooming season.
  • Despite the misconception, citrus trees can be grown in this zone. The trifoliate orange is the superior choice for cold hardiness. However, sour oranges, Cleopatra mandarins, and citrus crosses also do well here. Mandarin oranges include mandarins, satsumas, tangerines, and hybrids thereof. They are all sweet citrus that peels easily.

How To Know Your Planting And Growing Zones In NJ

Planting Zones

Growing plants for a successful gardening venture requires that you know which zone you live in. There are different zones because the climate varies so widely. It is worth looking up the zone for your area through the USDA website.  It has a map that shows what zone you live in and what zone is best for specific plants. Here is how you can check your zone.

  1. From the map, you can find your hardiness zone by clicking on your state. This will bring up your state’s page color-coded with its hardiness zone in detail.
  2. The next step is to select your state. There are two ways to do that. First, you can either select it from the drop-down menu or view it alphabetically by selecting it in an alphabetical list. Here, you will get information about your planting zone to help you make informed decisions on your gardening.
  3. Alternatively, you can find out what planting zone you are in by searching a zip code on a map. Using the same map, enter your zip code in the search area and click “Find.” The map will show your planting zone below the search bar. This format tends to give more specific results than the state, which gives results for a general area.

Why Is It Important To Know Your Planting And Growing Zone In New Jersey?

1. You spend money wisely

No matter what your level of experience is with planting, one thing is sure: you are going to spend money. Some plants are expensive, while others require a lot of time and care. It is essential to choose plants that are specifically suited for your hardiness zone. This way, you can avoid investing in plants that won’t survive in your climate.

2. To provide the proper care for your plants

Understating your plants is vital for their survival and general well-being. Some plants grow well in certain climates, which means you will have to take care of them differently than others. If you choose plants best suited for your zone’s climatic conditions, you will spend less time maintaining your plants and have more pride in your gardening skills.

3. Bringing diversity to your garden

You know your hardiness zone and understand your local weather. This means you have a better understanding of plants that will work for your landscaping needs. You may find some unique plants that you never thought to use before. This will give you a lot of leeway in your plant selection while still choosing plants that will be suited to the current environment.

4. To grow more versatile plants

versatile plants

As you learn more about the hardiness level of different plant species, you will soon know that some plants are hardier than others. The versatility of these plants can be a good thing because some grow in different planting zones. This could be a good inspiration for you to try gardening outside of your traditional planting zone if you have heard others have successfully done so.

5. It helps you plan ahead

Knowing you have to have the right plants for a suitable climate is essential when planting. Thus, it is crucial to know your regional climate and hardiness zone before deciding what plants to buy. This will ensure they are in sync with your growing season, amount of rainfall, and temperature ranges. That way, your plants will enjoy favorable weather conditions and grow up to maturity in the appropriate area.

FAQs

Question: Is there any difference between New Jersey’s Zone 6a and 6b?

Answer: There is a slight difference in temperatures between the two zones. The temperatures in Zone 6a are a little colder than in Zone 6b. The average winter temperature in Zone 6a is -10 to -5 degrees Fahrenheit and the average winter temperature in Zone 6b is -5 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Many plants and seed packets list the zones where they do best. Zone 6a and 6b represent the coldest areas that a plant can survive in.

Question: Which tropical plants can I grow in Zone 7?

Answer: Several tropical plants do well in zone 7. Below are some of them.
• Windmill Palm Tree 
• Bengal Tiger Canna
• Japanese Ginger
• Chinese Yellow Banana
• Butterfly Ginger
• Spiked Ginger Lily

Question: What is the right time to plant vegetables in Zone 6?

Answer: When it comes to planting vegetables in zone 6, mid-March and mid-November are safe and productive. Remember that these are only guidelines, and sometimes winter or summer can come early or last longer than anticipated.

Question: What happens if I plant outside my hardiness zone?

Answer: Planting zones are the guidelines that tell you what type of conditions your garden will need. You should make sure to plant your garden in the correct planting zone for your plant types. For example, if you have a plant that is not tolerant to cold temperatures, you should ensure it grows in an area where the temperature never dips below certain degrees. If you plant your garden outside its designated planting zone, it may end up being shocked by high or low temperatures.

Conclusion

The critical aspect of successful gardening is understanding the weather conditions of your area. With climate change, weather is unpredictable. That is why knowing your climate and weather factors before you buy plants is so important. Different planting and growing zones in New Jersey experience varied environmental factors. Thus, you need to select your plants carefully to maximize the chances of successful growth and better yields. Knowing the times when unfavorable weather conditions start is also crucial to your overall success as a farmer.

Maintaining healthy plant life year-round can be difficult because of the different climatic factors. By thinking about your zone before you buy, you will save money by spending less on plants that are not appropriate for your area.

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