Minnesota’s continental climate lends to its well-known cold winters and hot summers which determine the Minnesota planting zones. Located in the upper midwestern region of the country, Minnesota experiences large swings in weather patterns between seasons. The state has four obvious seasons and each one has its own distinct characteristics. Winters often have below-freezing very cold to frigid conditions. The state sees significant snow each year while also regularly experiencing rain, sleet and freezing rain. Snowstorms are not unusual into the beginning of spring, but typically taper off by late spring. With the warmer weather comes tornadoes that occur anywhere between March and November. Prolonged heat is not uncommon during the summer in the south region where the warm Gulf of Mexico air pushes up through the area. Minnesota is ranked the 3rd coldest state in the nation with an annual average winter temperature of 12 degrees.
Weather patterns and first and last frost dates affect U.S. hardiness zones and help to determine the best types of plants and flowers to plant. Understanding the different Minnesota planting zones can help you decide on what, as well as when, to plant. Find your specific growing zone on Gilmour’s Interactive Planting Zone Map. Minnesota growing zones fall somewhere between 3a and 5a. When you take the time to first know exactly which Minnesota planting zone you are in, you will have a better chance of knowing dates to plant in order to see best results. It is perfectly fine to plant anything rated for a specific zone or lower and expect it to survive winter. Planting any plants that are designated for a higher zone is never a good idea, since anything that thrives in a higher zone will likely not be able to survive the cold winter conditions of a lower Minnesota planting zone.
Of the many vegetables that grow well in Minnesota, tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes, kale, lettuce, spinach, cauliflower and squash are all sure wins. Be sure to select plants that are hardy to zone 3 or 4 to ensure winter survival. Choose from a plethora of gorgeous blooms that all do extremely well in the area. Coneflowers, butterfly weed, hardy geraniums, allium, panicle hydrangeas and lenten roses are good bets.
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