Rose Garden Advice

A resource for the rose enthusiast

  • Home
  • /
  • Understanding Plant Hardiness Zones

Click Maps to Enlarge

Colored map showing plant growing zones in the USA
Colored Map of United Kingdom showing growing zones
Map of Australia showing plant hardiness zones in colour coding with legend

Understanding Plant Hardiness Zones

Plant Hardiness Zones are a fundamental tool for gardeners, providing essential guidance in navigating the diverse climates that shape our landscapes. 

These zones are defined geographical areas characterized by specific temperature ranges, serving as a crucial framework for understanding the climate conditions in various regions.

Plant selection becomes more deliberate and successful when aligned with the recommended hardiness zones for a particular species. Cultivating a garden tailored to the specific needs of your region's climate ensures plants' survival and thriving in their natural environment.

Let's look at the different zones in more detail.

United States Hardiness Zones

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is a comprehensive and widely used tool in the United States that helps gardeners and horticulturists understand the climatic variations across the country. This map divides the nation into distinct zones based on the average annual minimum winter temperature.

The zones are represented by numbers and letters, indicating a specific range of temperatures that a region can expect. From the frosty landscapes of Zone 1 in Alaska to the balmy conditions of Zone 11 in Hawaii, the map visually represents the diverse climates throughout the United States.

Range of Zones from Alaska to Hawaii

  • Zone 1 (Alaska): Extreme cold characterizes this northernmost zone, making it suitable for plants that thrive in subarctic climates.

  • Zones 2-5 (North to Midwest): These zones cover a broad spectrum of cold climates, with varying temperatures that impact plant selection and adaptation.

  • Zones 6-8 (South to Midwest): As one moves south, the zones become progressively milder, allowing for a more extensive array of plant choices.

  • Zones 9-11 (Southern U.S. to Hawaii): The southernmost zones, including Hawaii, experience mild to tropical climates, influencing the plants that can flourish in these warmer conditions.

United Kingdom Hardiness Zones

In the United Kingdom, gardeners rely on the Royal Horticultural Society's (RHS) hardiness rating system to navigate the unique and often unpredictable British climate. 

The RHS system goes beyond focusing on temperatures; it considers a comprehensive set of factors influencing a plant's ability to thrive in diverse conditions across the UK.

RHS hardiness ratings typically include numerical values, with higher numbers indicating greater hardiness. 

Here's a general guideline:

  • H1a - Tender (indoor only): Plants that need to be grown indoors in the UK climate.

  • H1b - Tender (outdoor summer): Plants that can be grown outdoors during the summer but need protection from frost in the UK.

  • H1c - Tender (requiring a greenhouse): Plants that require the protection of a greenhouse in the UK climate.

  • H2 - Half hardy: Plants that can tolerate some cold but may require protection during the winter in the UK.

  • H3 - Hardy (to -5 °C): Hardy plants in most UK conditions tolerate temperatures up to 5°C.

  • H4 - Hardy (to -10 °C): Plants that are hardy and can withstand colder temperatures, down to 10°C.

  • H5 - Hardy (to -15 °C): Plants that are very hardy and can withstand even colder temperatures, down to 15°C.

You would typically look for varieties with H4 or H5 ratings for roses to ensure they can withstand colder UK winters. However, it's important to note that the specific hardiness of a rose can also depend on factors such as soil quality, exposure to wind, and local microclimates.

Consideration of Temperature and Climate Factors

Temperature Ranges

The RHS system considers the minimum winter temperatures in different regions, much like other hardiness zone systems. This helps gardeners understand the cold tolerance of various plants.

Additional Climate Considerations

Unlike some other systems, the RHS system also considers factors beyond temperature. This includes wind exposure, rainfall, and other climatic elements contributing to a plant's overall resilience.


Recognizing the presence of microclimates within the UK, the system acknowledges that certain areas may have unique climate conditions due to local geography or sheltering, affecting plant suitability.

Australian Hardiness Zones

Australia typically relies on various climate classification systems that consider factors beyond temperature, such as rainfall and humidity.

One commonly used classification system in Australia is the Köppen climate classification, which categorizes climates based on temperature, precipitation, and seasonality. 

Here's a simplified example of the Köppen climate:

Tropical North- Köppen classification: Aw

The northern parts of Australia, including regions in Queensland and the Northern Territory, experience tropical climates with consistently warm temperatures throughout the year. These areas fall into higher hardiness zones.

Temperate Zones- Köppen classification: Cfa (Humid subtropical), Cfb (Oceanic), or Cfc (Subpolar oceanic)

Southern Australia, including parts of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, features temperate climates with distinct seasons, including cooler winters. The hardiness zones in these regions reflect the temperature variations.

Arid and Semi-Arid Regions- Köppen classification: BWh (Hot desert) or BSh (Hot semi-arid)

Central Australia, including parts of Western Australia and South Australia, is characterized by arid and semi-arid climates. The hardiness zones in these areas consider the challenges posed by hot temperatures and limited rainfall.

Mediterranean Climates- Köppen classification: Csa (Hot-summer Mediterranean) or Csb (Warm-summer Mediterranean)

Parts of southern Australia, such as Adelaide and Perth, experience Mediterranean climates with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The hardiness zones reflect the adaptability of plants to these specific climate conditions.

Choosing Roses Wisely

Roses selected based on hardiness zones are more likely to withstand the challenges posed by extreme temperatures, frost, and other environmental factors. This enhances the resilience of your garden, promoting healthier and more robust plant growth.

Cold-Tolerant Varieties

An exemplary rose for colder climates is the "Arctic Beauty." This cold-tolerant variety, known for its exquisite blooms and hardy nature, is well-suited to regions with harsh winters. 

Its ability to endure colder temperatures makes it a resilient choice for gardens in higher hardiness zones. When browsing for roses, look for varieties with recommendations that align with the cold tolerance needed for your specific zone.

Heat-Loving Species

The "Sunset Blaze" rose is a remarkable heat-loving species for those cultivating roses in warmer regions. With its vibrant colors and capacity to thrive in hotter climates, this rose adds a touch of elegance to gardens in lower hardiness zones. 

Cultivating Gardens of Resilience through Plant Hardiness Zones

These zones, whether delineating the diverse climates of the United States, the United Kingdom, or Australia, emerge as essential tools that shape the very essence of our landscapes. 

They are not mere classifications but the keys to unlocking the secrets of successful garden planning. 

By aligning our plant choices with these designated zones, we foster gardens that captivate with their aesthetic charm and stand resilient in the face of local climatic nuances.

Plant Hardiness Zones will be your steadfast companion as you cultivate landscapes that breathe life, vitality, and a timeless connection to the environment. Happy rose gardening!

Verified by MonsterInsights