Montana is one of those interesting states with more than one climate and more than four Montana planting zones. In fact, the state has several identified climates. It is virtually split into eastern and western regions that are almost separated by the Continental Divide, which has a huge effect on the overall climate of the state. It is what restricts warm Pacific air from moving toward the east, as well as not allowing the continental dry air to move through west. The western region has mountains and valleys, and the eastern half of the state has the badlands and prairie terrain. The eastern region has a semi-arid continental climate and the western side of the divide has a modified northern Pacific coast climate with cooler summers and milder winters. Average summer temperatures statewide are in the mid 60s and winters average in the low 20s.
Because the state has so many climates, Montana growing zones widely vary. A Montana planting zone can be anywhere from the 3a to 6a range. Gilmour’s Interactive Planting Zone Map shows what Montana zone you are in. Planting zones are based on first and last frost dates, and different weather patterns determine different zones. Knowing which zone you are planting in will help determine which plants and flowers to plant and which are most likely to survive conditions typical to any specific zone. Choose plants that are rated for your zone or lower if you are concerned about winter survival. Plants that are rated for a higher zone are not a good idea because any plant designated for a zone above your own will most likely not survive any colder winter conditions.
There are many plants, flowers and vegetables to choose from that will grow well in Montana. Some of the flowers known to thrive in this region include mullein, lupine, arrowleaf, prairie coneflower and clematis. Numerous vegetables will produce in spring and summer gardens, such as potatoes, squash, mustard greens, peas, mint, sugar beets and corn.
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