Zone 7 Gardening Guide: Mastering the USDA Hardiness Zone 7 Landscape - Zone 7 Gardener (2024)

Zone 7 Gardening Guide: Mastering the USDA Hardiness Zone 7 Landscape - Zone 7 Gardener (1)

Hello fellow zone 7 gardener! I’m personally ecstatic that this is the zone I live in. The growing season is long. The variety of plants I can grow is more than I can ask for. And the weather is perfect for spending some time outside.

This post is a comprehensive guide to USDA Hardiness Zone 7. It goes over what/where zone 7 is, the benefits and challenges of the region, and what you can grow.

I’ll also throw in plenty of tips to get your zone 7 garden going!

Table Of Contents

  1. What does it mean to be in USDA Hardiness Zone 7?
  2. Where is Zone 7?
  3. Subzones – 7a and 7b
  4. Why should you care about your Zone?
  5. Benefits of Gardening in Zone 7
  6. Challenges of Gardening in Zone 7
  7. What Grows in Zone 7? A lot!
  8. Zone 7 Gardening Tips
  9. Planting the Last Seed

What does it mean to be in USDA Hardiness Zone 7?

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones are regions that reach across the United States that are split up into 13 zones based on their annual winter temperatures. The higher the number, the warmer the winter. Hawaii, South Florida, a tiny piece of south Texas, and Southeast California are zone 10. Zone 13 is way down in Puerto Rico with the warmest winters. Zone 1 is the coldest region, only found in north and central Alaska.

Zone 7 has an average annual minimum winter temperature of 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Winters are considered moderate here and relatively mild, compared to zones 8-10. You won’t be growing tomatoes in December, but you will get a fairly long growing season that typically lasts from around late March to mid-November.

Where is Zone 7?

Well, it’s big, and it changes every year based on the climate changes in a region. Zone 7 spans across the entire United States from southern parts of Virginia and West Virginia, up through the Midwest, and into parts of New York and Pennsylvania. It also includes parts of Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas and then reaches west into California, Oregon, and Washington.

Here are some specific states and major cities/regions that have at least part of their region located in zone 7:

  • States: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia
  • Cities/Regions: Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Long Island, Louisville, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Washington D.C.

For a visual representation of Zone 7, you can refer to the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

*These states and cities were included at the time of this writing. If you’re reading this in the future, the list possibly changed. The USDA hardiness zone map is updated every 10-12 years, with the last update in 2012. So, the new map should be up sometime in 2023 or 2024. If you’re unsure if you’re actually in zone 7, you can enter your zip code into the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map website.

Subzones – 7a and 7b

Getting a little more granular now, we’ll take a quick look at Zone 7a and Zone 7b.

Every USDA hardiness zone is broken down to two subzones: ‘a’ and ‘b’. These subzones are divided based on a 5-degree Fahrenheit difference in the average annual minimum temperature.

The difference between Zone 7a and 7b is not huge, but it can be important for some plants.

Zone 7a: This subzone has an average annual minimum winter temperature that ranges from 0°F to 5°F (-17.8°C to -15°C). It covers the northern part of Zone 7, where temperatures can dip lower, and winters are slightly colder compared to Zone 7b.

Zone 7b: In this subzone, the average annual minimum winter temperature ranges from 5°F to 10°F (-15°C to -12.2°C). Zone 7b is the southern part of Zone 7, where winters are milder, and temperatures generally stay above freezing.

That 5 degrees isn’t huge, but it does make a difference for some plants. For example, a few plants that can thrive in zone 7b that don’t have the greatest chance in zone 7a are artichoke, citrus plants, and fig trees.

Why should you care about your Zone?

Knowing your USDA hardiness zone is important for gardeners, no matter what zone you’re in. Knowing your zone gives you important information that you need to choose plants that are most likely to thrive in your garden.

In addition to knowing what plants to plant, knowing your zone also helps you:

  • Plan your garden layout
  • Determine when to plant and harvest your crops
  • Choose the right fertilizer(s)
  • Set the right watering schedule
  • Plan for and protect your plants from pests and diseases
  • Determine how to extend your garden season

Those are some of the practical gardening reasons. Some other bonuses from fine tuning your garden to your specific zone:

  • You’ll save money. Planting anything that doesn’t belong in your hardiness zone will mean you’ll likely need to replace them every year. This can get very expensive when you’re dealing with planting trees or shrubs.
  • It’s better for the environment. To try and make a plant grow in your region that’s not meant to grow there, you’ll probably need to invest in some artificial fertilizers and pesticides that can disrupt your local ecosystem. Sticking with your zone’s plants avoids that need.
  • You’ll have a more successful garden! You are almost guaranteed to get better results with planting your zone’s plants. This means more flowers blooming, and more fruits and veggies you can eat.

Benefits of Gardening in Zone 7

Okay, I may be a little biased here, but I love Zone 7! And you should too!

Zone 7 Gardening Guide: Mastering the USDA Hardiness Zone 7 Landscape - Zone 7 Gardener (4)

Zone 7 is a great place to be if you’re a gardener. Don’t believe me? Here’s a few reasons why…

  • Long growing seasons – With the ground thawing out in early spring, you have a long growing season. It usually lasts from late March until mid-November. This give you plenty of time to plant, grow, and harvest your crops (or enjoy your flowers).
  • Plant variety – Zone 7 offers a lot of flexibility for the plants you can grow during the growing season. There isn’t weather for growing tropical plants like bananas and coconuts, but there are a ton of flowers, shrubs, trees, fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you can grow.
  • Moderate climate – Don’t be upset that you can’t garden year-round like zone 10. Imagine trying to tend to your plants in the height of summer down in Florida! Zone 7’s warm summers and cool winters makes for comfortable gardening for you…and for your plants! Extreme temperatures are also a rarity here, which could otherwise harm your plants.
  • Easy work – Most plants in zone 7 are fairly easy to take care of. This means that beginner gardeners will have an easier time getting started, and seasoned gardeners can expand their garden without much hassle.

Challenges of Gardening in Zone 7

Well, it isn’t all perfect. Sorry!

Zone 7 Gardening Guide: Mastering the USDA Hardiness Zone 7 Landscape - Zone 7 Gardener (5)

With all of those benefits, there still are some drawbacks you may need to deal with.

  • Unpredictable weather – Typically zone 7 is a mild climate, but this zone can get some unpredictable weather. These sudden temperature fluctuations and weather extremes can do some damage. Summer heat waves can put stress on your plants that you need to address. Also, the unfortunate late spring frosts and early fall frosts can catch even the most seasoned gardeners off guard, damaging their tender plants.
  • Droughts and Water Management – Zone 7 can experience periods of drought and high temperatures, especially during the hot summer months. Adequate watering and water conservation practices are more important than ever during these times.
  • Pest and Disease Pressure – The temperate climate in Zone 7 is great for growing plants, but also for breeding various pests and diseases. Gardeners in this region need to be stay on top of the potential pest problems. This means monitoring plants for signs of infestations and taking preventive measures to protect their garden.
  • Soil Challenges: The soil in Zone 7 can vary significantly. It can range from sandy to clayey, and acidic to alkaline. You should try to get an understanding of the soil you are working with to figure out how to implement the appropriate soil amendments.
  • Winter Protection: While winters in Zone 7 are relatively mild, occasional cold snaps and winter storms can still pose a threat to tender plants. If you are planning to include plants in your yard or garden over the winter, you may need to provide extra protection to more vulnerable plants during the colder periods.
  • Invasive Plant Species – Zone 7 is a region that gardeners often have to deal with invasive plant species like Japanese knotweed, glossy buckthorn, and oriental bittersweet. These plants can spread quickly and outcompete the plants that you are trying to grow.

That’s not so bad, right? Want some tips to help overcome these challenges? Here you go…

  • Plant early-season crops that can tolerate frost, like peas, lettuce, and spinach.
  • Use row covers or frost clothes to protect your plants from late fall frosts.
  • Water your plants regularly during hot summers.
  • Keep your plants healthy and productive by pruning them.
  • Monitor your plants for pests and diseases and take steps to control them as soon as possible.

What Grows in Zone 7? A lot!

Zone 7 is a great place for growing plants. There is really something for everyone.

Zone 7 Gardening Guide: Mastering the USDA Hardiness Zone 7 Landscape - Zone 7 Gardener (6)

It’s impossible to list every single plant that thrives in this zone, so we’ll break it down with some of the most popular plants. If you want more specifics, make sure to check out some of our blog posts about different plants you can grow in zone 7.

Zone 7 Perennials

These hardy plants return year after year. Plant them once, and they keep coming back! They are great for planning out the design of your garden and landscaping of your yard.

Some popular perennials for Zone 7 include peonies, irises, lilacs, coneflowers, black-eyed susans, and hostas.

Zone 7 Annuals and Biennials

While not a recurring plant like perennials, these plants are usually pretty easy to grow and care for in zone 7. They bring a lot of color to your garden and yard, and are a great way to entice pollinators to your vegetable garden.

Some popular annuals and biennials for zone 7 include marigolds, petunias, sunflowers, zinnias, sweet peas, and pansies.

Zone 7 Fruits and Vegetables

My personal favorite! You’re in luck if you’re in zone 7 and want to grow an edible garden. The long growing season and moderate climate allows you to grow your own fresh and delicious food for a good portion of the year. With a long growing season, you can even have multiple harvests of fast-growing crops like radishes and spinach.

Just a few of the many fruits and vegetables you can grow in zone 7 are tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini/squash, beans, peas, corn, potatoes, garlic, onions, broccoli, grapes, carrots, and so much more!

Zone 7 Gardening Guide: Mastering the USDA Hardiness Zone 7 Landscape - Zone 7 Gardener (7)

Zone 7 Fruit Trees and Bushes

In addition to the fruits you can grow in your garden, there are plenty of fruit trees and bushes that thrive here. There really is nothing better than pulling a fresh apple off of a tree!

Some popular fruit trees for zone 7 include apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, grapes, and nectarines. For smaller spaces or container gardens, popular fruit bushes for zone 7 include raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries.

Zone 7 Herbs

Get the full culinary experience with some herbs growing in your garden. Most of these are easier to grow than fruits and vegetables, and a good cook knows that fresh herbs turn a ‘meh’ meal into a delicacy.

Some popular herbs for zone 7 include basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, dill, chives, lavender and mint.

Zone 7 Shrubs and Trees

Those of you with the real estate available are going to be happy with the wide variety of zone 7 friendly shrubs and trees. Not only are they going to be a great decoration for your yard, but they can also provide structure and shade for your garden.

Some popular shrubs for zone 7 are rose bushes, hydrangeas, lilacs, boxwoods, and rhododendrons. Some trees you can plant are maple, oak, pine, dogwood, and black walnut.

Zone 7 Native Plants

Native plants are a great way to attract wildlife to your garden and to support the local ecosystem. These do vary based on your actual region (Long Island will have different species than, say, southern Utah), but some common native plants throughout most of zone 7 are black-eyed susans, joe-pye weed, cone flowers wild bergamot, and eastern bluebells.

Zone 7 Water Garden Plants

If you’re lucky enough to have a pond or a water feature, there are even more plants that you can grow.

Some popular zone 7 water garden plants include water lilies, lotus, and cattails.

Zone 7 Gardening Tips

Now that you know more than you ever planned to know about USDA Hardiness Zone 7, let’s get into some practical tips you can use to make the best garden in your neighborhood.

Zone 7 Gardening Guide: Mastering the USDA Hardiness Zone 7 Landscape - Zone 7 Gardener (8)

Here are some gardening tips specific to zone 7:

1 – Know Your First and Last Frost Dates

Knowing your frost dates is crucial for having a successful garden. This will help you plan out when to start seeds indoors, transplant seedlings, and sow directly in the ground.

You can find your first and last frost dates by plugging in your zip code to’s frost date tool.

2 – Start Early

Zone 7’s growing season is long, but those winter months can put a damper on your growing season. Start planting outdoors, early in spring, with plants that are frost resistant like peas, lettuce, and spinach.

3 – Start Seeds Indoors

Adding on to starting early, you should also get a head start on other seeds indoors, so they are ready to transplant when the weather is optimal. There are plenty of already growing plants that you can buy from a nursery and transplant to your garden, but starting seeds indoors gives you more options of what to plant, saves you a lot of money, and will make you feel more accomplished.

4 – Choose the Right Plants

As mentioned above, not all plants are going to thrive in zone 7. If you’re good, you may get some plants from other regions to grow, but they won’t be nearly as hardy as you’d like. Look for plants recommended for zone 7. You can look up some recommendations on this site, talk to your local nursery, or just check the plant tag/seed label to see if it says zone 7.

5 – Mulch

Mulching is not mandatory, but it is a good idea in your zone. For one, this layer of organic material helps suppress weed growth. More significantly, it helps to hold moisture in the soil and regulates the soil temperature which is important in a zone where the weather can hit extremes. It’ll keep the soil/roots cooler in the summer and act like a blanket to hold in heat when the cold starts to come.

6 – Water Wisely and Regularly

We all know plants needs water, but you want to make sure you’re striking the right balance. Overwatering will lead to root rot and other issues, while underwatering can stress and weaken plants. The best way to determine how much water your plants need is to check the soil moisture regularly. If the soil is dry to the touch, it’s time to water.

If you are in a drought-prone area, plan for times when your city might require you to use less water.

In general, it is best to water deeply and infrequently. This helps to develop deep roots which can help the plants become more drought tolerant. When it starts getting very hot, you might need to water more often though.

7 – Rotate Your Crops

Planting the same plant in the same soil every year can drastically deplete the soil of nutrients. It also increases the risk of pests and diseases that will destroy your plants. Always try to plant different crops in each location year after year.

8 – Prepare the Soil

Before you get started on your garden in the spring, give them the best chance to flourish by starting with the best soil conditions. This includes adding compost or other organic matter to improve drainage and fertility. Perform a soil test to identify any deficiencies or imbalances and amend the soil accordingly.

9 – Stay Informed

Gardening is a continuous learning process, and each season presents new challenges and opportunities. Stay informed about best practices, gardening trends, and weather patterns in your region to adapt your gardening techniques accordingly. That could include regularly checking Zone 7 Gardener, joining a local gardening club, talking to your local nursery, and keeping an eye on the weather report.

Planting the Last Seed

If you found these Zone 7 gardening tips helpful, please share this guide with other gardening enthusiasts in your community. Comment below with your favorite gardening tips for Zone 7 or any experiences you’d like to share.

I hope you have a successful gardening season in Zone 7!

Two more, very important, tips I’d like to leave you with about zone 7 gardening:

  1. Be patient. Gardening takes a lot of time and a lot of patience. If your plants aren’t growing as fast as you’d like, don’t get discouraged. Just keep watering, fertilizing, and weeding, and you’ll be rewarded in time.
  2. Have fun! Gardening is a great way to relax and get outside. Soak up the sun, get some exercise, and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor.

Till next time…

Zone 7 Gardening Guide: Mastering the USDA Hardiness Zone 7 Landscape - Zone 7 Gardener (9)
Zone 7 Gardening Guide: Mastering the USDA Hardiness Zone 7 Landscape - Zone 7 Gardener (2024)
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