Las vegas planting zone

How to grow a desert-friendly garden

  • Potted cacti


    The care of cacti is as low-maintenance as it gets, and they are a great way to add interest to your garden. They come in a range of shapes and sizes, and many bloom brightly colored flowers. Agave, aloe, wheeler and kangaroo paw are popular varieties.

  • Honeysuckle


    Grown either as a vine or a shrub, this fragrant, leafy plant provides greenery throughout the year and yellow or white flowers from spring to late fall that are a favorite for butterflies.

  • Ornamental grasses

    There are dozens of varieties of ornamental grasses from which to choose. Their long, spiky tufts are fast-growing and work well in the ground or in a pot. They come in a variety of colors, including blue and purple.

  • Myoporum

    This is a leafy, bright green, ground-hugging plant that works well as a fast-growing ground cover on slopes and banks. Or, plant it in a decorative pot. It thrives in morning sun and offers white flowers in the summer.

  • Pindo palm


    Palms require heavier watering in their first years, but they are great for giving your garden a desert oasis feel. Pick from a variety of sizes, including sky-high date and Mexican fan palms, mid-size Mexican blue palms (which are great near pools) or hearty Pindo palms, which can withstand both extreme heat and frost.

  • Rosemary


    This fragrant, fast-growing bush with delicate flowers can be grown as a shrub or as part of an herb garden. It requires nurturing in its first year but is an otherwise low-maintenance plant.

  • Weeping bottle brush

    Weeping bottlebrush

    This smaller tree native to Australia is a moderate-growing evergreen that in spring and summer erupts in bright, red flowers that hummingbirds and butterflies love. The trees prefer drier soil, so avoid planting it in grass or windy areas.

  • Prostrate acacia

    Also known as “desert carpet,” this tall, willowy ground cover can spread up to 10 feet wide and blooms with dainty, golden flowers in the spring.

  • Echinacea

    Coneflower (echinacea)

    These perennials produce purple, long-stemmed flowers that are perfect for adding a pop of color to your landscape.

Effective ways to water

■ To avoid wasting water, drip irrigation is the best way to go, as it delivers just the right amount needed directly to the root of a plant.

Though drip systems can be expensive to install, they save time and money in the long run.

If you can’t use drip irrigation, experts recommend using a watering pail so you can measure the exact amount of water needed for each plant.

■ If you have a lawn, check your sprinklers at least once every season to ensure they’re in proper working condition and delivering water at the correct spray and angle.

Also, be sure to water your lawn only at the times and on the days designated by the Las Vegas Valley Water District. From May 1 to Oct. 1, watering is prohibited from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

More information:

Water use offenders

Tropical and subtropical plants such as azaleas and philodendron should be avoided, as their soft, delicate skin is used to sucking up water in lush rainforest environments.

Similarly, many bright-colored flowers such as geraniums, pansies and petunias are particularly thirsty and generally don’t do well in the sun. If you must have them, keep them in the shade or inside to avoid exposure and use less water.

Conservation pays

Desert landscaping isn’t just good for the environment — it can pay.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority’s Water Smart Landscape Rebate Program rebates customers $1.50 for every square foot of grass that’s removed and replaced with desert landscaping. The rebate applies to up to 5,000 square feet per property, per year. The rebate drops to $1 per square foot after the first 5,000 square feet. The maximum rebate a property can receive in a fiscal year is $300,000.

More information:

Eating from your own garden is delicious and healthful for both body and soul. My attention of late has turned to the joys of growing veggies and herbs, especially as I strive to eat healthier. And I’ve never had a store-bought tomato as delicious as those from my garden.

March is a great month for planting in Las Vegas, including artichokes, asparagus, beans, cantaloupes, peppers, eggplants and tomatoes. Here are some of my favorite tips for successful herb and veggie gardening in Southern Nevada:

Consider well where you place your garden, or the plants. The best microclimates offer some shade in the hottest part of the day, 2-5 p.m. Block walls on the west side of your yard work great, as do areas east of shade trees. Better yet, trees with open, sparse canopies offer filtered sun.

Invest in raised beds. I prefer a block-type material rather than wood, as it won’t warp, dry out or rot, and you can sit on the edge. Fill it with a rich soil medium: sand and well-decomposed organic matter at about 50-50. Or buy garden soil at a local nursery or rock yard.

If you grow in pots, use large, deep pots, at least 12 inches deep. This will help store some reservoir of moisture.

Use drip irrigation. For raised beds, I prefer inline drip irrigation — half-inch diameter tubes with built-in emitters spaced one foot apart, then lay the tubes in parallel, also one foot apart. It’s very efficient, gives great coverage and it’s easy to plant and work around.

Support comes from

Put your veggie beds on a separate valve, as their water frequency and run-time needs are very different from the rest of your landscape.

Consider planting herbs and veggies in with the rest of your garden. Plant artichoke, hot peppers, lemongrass and asparagus — they’re ornamental as well as edible. Lavender is beautiful and likes it a bit on the dry side. Rosemary also thrives in a xeric garden.

Start with some easier-to-grow plants such as onions, strawberries and swiss chard. Radishes from seed are great for planting with children, as they have a high rate of germination, pop from the ground quickly and often mature in 3-4 weeks.

Some veggies are more tolerant of our alkaline soils: asparagus, onions, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, peas.

Consider starting some crops from seed indoors, 4-6 weeks before their ideal planting time. Covered cookie trays make great mini greenhouses, but make sure to put some drainage holes in. Root crops such as carrots, beets, turnips and radishes should be seed-sown directly in the soil. Mint is easy to grow here, but invasive. Keep it in a separate pot or it’ll take over!

In sunny areas, plant tomatoes, peppers, squash and melons, and plant the leafy greens in shadier spots.

Tomatoes can be prolific here. For the best results use smaller varieties such as yellow pear, patio, or fourth of July. Don’t over-fertilize with nitrogen — too much nitrogen causes lots of leafy growth but very little fruit.

Don’t plant tomatoes and pepper too early; do so only after last frost has passed (you’re probably okay anytime in March, but later is safer).

Plant tight and dense. The masses of foliage help keep soils shaded and cooler, with less moisture loss and fewer weeds.

After veggies have grown up a bit, apply a layer of wood-chip or other organic mulch, about 2 inches deep. Take care to not pile it up against the stems of plants, for that can cause rot. Use it in a wide area around your fruit and citrus trees, as well.

Visit your crops frequently. Insect control is always best achieved sooner rather than later. Soapy water sprays work well for many pests, or use pyrethrum, an organic pesticide derived from chrysanthemum flowers. For caterpillars, pick them off or use BT, a naturally occurring bacteria that’s very selective in what it controls. Pull weeds as soon as you see them.

There are great resources for desert veggie gardening online and in books. I keep handy a chart of what to plant when, that I printed out from Becoming a Desert Gardener, a University of Nevada Cooperative Extension pamphlet that’s available online. I also like Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening by Jacqueline Soule and Extreme Gardening by Dave Owens.

With these tips and other resources in hand, and a bit of time and patience, you can reap the delicious fruits of your labor. Just remember that any kind of gardening, anywhere in the world, will result in both successes and defeats. Celebrate your successes, shrug off your defeats and learn and grow as a Southern Nevada gardener!

USDA Hardiness Zone Finder

Las Vegas, NV is in Zone 9a.

Scroll down for more information.

Your Zip: 89123

  • Zone: 9a (According to the new 2012 map)
  • Zone: 8a (According to the older 1990 map)
  • City: Las Vegas
  • State: NV
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  • Check out our Plants Database
  • The USDA Hardiness Zone Map divides North America into 11 separate planting zones; each growing zone is 10°F warmer (or colder) in an average winter than the adjacent zone. If you see a hardiness zone in a gardening catalog or plant description, chances are it refers to this USDA map. To find your USDA Hardiness Zone, enter your zip code or use the map below. for more information about hardiness maps.

    Find your zone using the map below or enter your zip code.

    What are Zone Maps?

    Gardeners need a way to compare their garden climates with the climate where a plant is known to grow well. That’s why climate zone maps were created. Zone maps are tools that show where various permanent landscape plants can adapt. If you want a shrub, perennial, or tree to survive and grow year after year, the plant must tolerate year-round conditions in your area, such as the lowest and highest temperatures and the amount and distribution of rainfall.

    The 2012 USDA Hardiness Zone Map

    The latest version of the USDA Zone Map was jointly developed by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Oregon State University’s (OSU) PRISM Climate Group, and released in January of 2012. To help develop the new map, USDA and OSU requested that horticultural and climatic experts review the zones in their geographic area, and trial versions of the new map were revised based on their expert input.

    Compared to the 1990 version, zone boundaries in the 2012 edition of the map have shifted in many areas. The new map is generally one 5°F half-zone warmer than the previous map throughout much of the United States. This is mostly a result of using temperature data from a longer and more recent time period; the new map uses data measured at weather stations during the 30-year period 1976-2005. In contrast, the 1990 map was based on temperature data from only a 13-year period of 1974-1986.

    However, some of the changes in the zones are a result of new, more sophisticated methods for mapping zones between weather stations. These include algorithms that considered for the first time such factors as changes in elevation, nearness to large bodies of water, and position on the terrain, such as valley bottoms and ridge tops. Also, the new map used temperature data from many more stations than did the 1990 map. These advances greatly improved the accuracy and detail of the map, especially in mountainous regions of the western United States. In some cases, they resulted in changes to cooler, rather than warmer, zones.

    To view this map, visit our 2012 USDA Hardiness Zone Map.

    The 1990 USDA Hardiness Zone Map

    This webpage was originally based on the 1990 USDA Hardiness Zone Map, which is one of several maps developed to provide this critical climate information. The USDA map is the one most gardeners in the eastern United States rely on, and the one that most national garden magazines, catalogs, books, websites and nurseries currently use. This map divides North America into 11 separate zones. Each zone is 10°F warmer (or colder) in an average winter than the adjacent zone. (In some versions of the map, each zone is further divided into “a” and “b” regions.)

    Click on your region for an enlarged view

    Color Chart Reference

    Great for the East

    The USDA map does a fine job of delineating the garden climates of the eastern half of North America. That area is comparatively flat, so mapping is mostly a matter of drawing lines approximately parallel to the Gulf Coast every 120 miles or so as you move north. The lines tilt northeast as they approach the Eastern Seaboard. They also demarcate the special climates formed by the Great Lakes and by the Appalachian mountain ranges.

    Zone Map Drawbacks

    But this map has shortcomings. In the eastern half of the country, the USDA map doesn’t account for the beneficial effect of a snow cover over perennial plants, the regularity or absence of freeze-thaw cycles, or soil drainage during cold periods. And in the rest of the country (west of the 100th meridian, which runs roughly through the middle of North and South Dakota and down through Texas west of Laredo), the USDA map fails.

    Problems in the West

    Many factors beside winter lows, such as elevation and precipitation, determine western growing climates in the West. Weather comes in from the Pacific Ocean and gradually becomes less marine (humid) and more continental (drier) as it moves over and around mountain range after mountain range. While cities in similar zones in the East can have similar climates and grow similar plants, in the West it varies greatly. For example, the weather and plants in low elevation, coastal Seattle are much different than in high elevation, inland Tucson, Arizona, even though they’re in the same zone USDA zone 8.

    Sunset climate zones: California desert

    To view detailed map, click the “Click to Enlarge” button at left. To see the eastern tip of Southern California, click on the thumbnail image under the main map.

    ZONE 1A: Coldest mountain and intermountain areas of the contiguous states

    Marked by a short growing season and relatively mild summer temperatures, Zone 1A includes the coldest regions west of the Rockies, excluding Alaska, and a few patches of cold country east of the Great Divide. The mild days and chilly nights during the growing season extend the bloom of summer perennials like columbines and Shasta daisies. If your garden gets reliable snow cover (which insulates plants), you’ll be able to grow perennials listed for some of the milder zones. In years when snow comes late or leaves early, protect plants with a 5- or 6-inch layer of organic mulch. Along with hardy evergreen conifers, tough deciduous trees and shrubs form the garden’s backbone. Gardeners can plant warm-season vegetables as long as they are short-season varieties. To further assure success, grow vegetables from seedlings you start yourself or buy from a nursery or garden center. Winter lows average in the 0 to 11°F (–18 to –12°C) range; extremes range from –25 to –50°F (–32 to –46°C). The growing season is 50 to 100 days.

    ZONE 2A: Cold mountain and intermountain areas

    Another snowy winter climate, Zone 2A covers several regions that are considered mild compared with surrounding climates. You’ll find this zone stretched over Colorado’s northeastern plains, a bit of it along the Western Slope and Front Range of the Rockies, as well as mild parts of river drainages like those of the Snake, Okanogan, and the Columbia. It also shows up in western Montana and Nevada and in mountain areas of the Southwest. This is the coldest zone in which sweet cherries and many apples grow. Winter temperatures here usually hover between 10 and 20°F (–12 to –7°C) at night, with drops between –20 and –30°F (–29 and –34°C) every few years. When temperatures drop below that, orchardists can lose even their trees. The growing season is 100 to 150 days.

    ZONE 2B: Warmer-summer intermountain climate

    This is a zone that offers a good balance of long,warm summers and chilly winters,making it an excellent climate zone for commercial fruit growing. That’s why you’ll find orchards in this zone in almost every state in the West.You’ll also find this warm-summer, snowy-winter climate along Colorado’s Western Slope and mild parts of the Front Range; in Nevada from Reno to Fallon, then north to Lovelock; in large areas of northern Arizona and New Mexico; and in mild parts of the Columbia and Snake River basins. Winter temperatures are milder than in neighboring Zone 2a, minimums averaging from 12 to 22°F (–11 to –6°C),with extremes in the –10 to –20°F (–23 to –29°C) range. The growing season here in Zone 2b runs from 115 days in higher elevations and more northerly areas to more than 160 days in southeastern Colorado.

    ZONE 3A: Mild areas of mountain and intermountain climates

    East of the Sierra and Cascade ranges, you can hardly find a better gardening climate than Zone 3a.Winter minimum temperatures average from 15 to 25°F (–9 to –4°C), with extremes between –8 and –18°F (–22 and –28°C). Its frost-free growing season runs from 150 to 186 days. The zone tends to occur at lower elevations in the northern states (eastern Oregon and Washington as well as Idaho), but at higher elevations as you move south crossing Utah’s Great Salt Lake and into northern New Mexico and Arizona. Fruits and vegetables that thrive in long, warm summers, such as melons, gourds, and corn, tend to do well here. This is another great zone for all kinds of deciduous fruit trees and ornamental trees and shrubs. Just keep them well watered.

    ZONE 10: High desert areas of Arizona and New Mexico

    This zone consists mostly of the 3,300- to 5,000-foot elevations in parts of Arizona and New Mexico. It also includes parts of southern Utah and Nevada, and adjacent California desert. Zone 10 has a definite winter season—75 to more than 100 nights below 32°F (0°C).That favors deciduous fruits, though late frosts can work against apricot crops. In Albuquerque,New Mexico, and Benson and Kingman, Arizona, average winter minimums range from 32 to 23°F (0 to –5°C). Lows of 25 to 22°F (–4 to –6°C) often come in.The cold winter season calls for spring planting. Growing seasons are very long—up to 225 days. More rain falls in the east than in the west, and the Pecos River drainage receives more precipitation in summer than in winter.

    This climate zone shares similarities with its neighbors—the cold-winter Zones 1, 2, and 3, and the subtropical low desert, Zone 13. Like Zones 1 to 3, Zone 11 has cold winters, and like Zone 13, it has hot summers. Hot summer days are followed by mild nights; near-freezing winter nights are followed by daytime temperatures near 60°F (16°C). On average, there are 110 summer days above 90°F (32°C),with the highest temperatures recorded between 111 and 117°F (44 to 47°C).About 85 nights have temperatures below 32°F (0°C),with lows between 11 and 0°F (–12 to –18°C). If soil moisture is inadequate, the characteristic winds and bright sunlight may combine to dry out normally hardy evergreen plants, killing or badly injuring them.

    ZONE 11: Medium to high desert of California and southern Nevada

    This climate zone shares similarities with its neighbors—the cold-winter Zones 1, 2, and 3, and the subtropical low desert, Zone 13. Like Zones 1 to 3, Zone 11 has cold winters, and like Zone 13, it has hot summers. Hot summer days are followed by mild nights; near-freezing winter nights are followed by daytime temperatures near 60°F (16°C).On average, there are 110 summer days above 90°F (32°C),with the highest temperatures recorded between 111 and 117°F (44 to 47°C).About 85 nights have temperatures below 32°F (0°C),with lows between 11 and 0°F (–12 to –18°C). If soil moisture is inadequate, the characteristic winds and bright sunlight may combine to dry out normally hardy evergreen plants, killing or badly injuring them.

    ZONE 12: Arizona’s intermediate desert

    The crucial difference between Arizona’s intermediate desert (Zone 12) and the low desert (Zone 13) is winter cold. But though the intermediate desert averages only 5 more freezing nights than the low desert (20 in Tucson compared with 15 in Phoenix and El Centro), it has harder frosts spread over a longer cold season. Zone 12 averages about 8 months between freezes, 9 months between killing frosts of 28°F (–2°C) or lower. Zone 13, on the other hand, averages more than 11 months between killing frosts, when it gets them at all. Extreme low temperatures of 6°F (–14°C) have been recorded in Zone 12.

    The mean maximums in July and August are 5 or 6°F cooler than the highs of Zone 13. Many subtropicals that do well in Zone 13 aren’t reliably hardy here, but succeed with protection against the extreme winters. Although winter temperatures are lower than in Zone 13, the total hours of cold are not enough to provide sufficient winter chilling for some deciduous fruits. From March to May, strong winds (to 40 miles per hour) can damage young tender growth. Windbreaks help.Here, as in Zone 13 and the eastern parts of Zone 10, summer rains are to be expected and can be more dependable than winter rains.And as in Zone 13, the best season for cool-season crops (salad greens, root vegetables, cabbage family members) starts in September or October.

    ZONE 13: Low or subtropical desert areas

    Ranging from below sea level in the Imperial Valley and Death Valley to 1,100 feet around Phoenix, Zone 13 is a subtropical desert.Average summer high is 107°F (42°C); the world’s secondhighest temperature—a scorching 134°F (56°C)—was recorded in Death Valley on July 10, 1913. Winters are short and mild,with brief frosts occurring up to 15 nights per year.Average winter minimums range from 36 to 42°F (2 to 6°C), with extreme lows from 27 to 15°F (–3 to –9°C). The gardening year begins in fall for most vegetables and annual flowers, although crops like corn and melons are planted in late winter. Fall-planted crops grow slowly in winter, pick up speed in mid-February, and race through the increasing temperatures of March and April. Spring winds can set back plants, but summer storms cool down gardens, shield plants from the sun, and supply a little extra water.

    ZONE 18: Above and below the thermal belts in Southern California’s interior valleys

    Zones 18 and 19 are classified as interior climates. This means that the major influence on climate is the continental air mass; the ocean determines the climate no more than 15 percent of the time. Many of the valley floors of Zone 18 were once regions where apricot, peach, apple, and walnut orchards flourished, but the orchards have now given way to homes.Although the climate supplies enough winter chill for some plants that need it, it is not too cold (with a little protection) for many of the hardier subtropicals like amaryllis. It is too hot, too cold, and too dry for fuchsias but cold enough for tree peonies and many apple varieties, and mild enough for a number of avocado varieties. Zone 18 never supplied much commercial citrus, but home gardeners who can tolerate occasional minor fruit loss can grow citrus here. Over a 20-year period, winter lows averaged from 22 to 17°F (–6 to –8°F).The all-time lows recorded by different weather stations in Zone 18 ranged from 22 to 7°F (–6 to –14°C).

    ZONE 19: Thermal belts around Southern California’s interior valleys

    Like that of neighboring Zone 18, the climate in Zone 19 is little influenced by the ocean. Both zones, then, have very poor climates for such plants as fuchsias, rhododendrons, and tuberous begonias. Many sections of Zone 19 have always been prime citrus-growing country—especially for those kinds that need extra summer heat in order to grow sweet fruit. Likewise, macadamia nuts and most avocados can be grown here. The Western Plant Encyclopedia cites many ornamental plants that do well in Zone 19 but are not recommended for its neighbor because of the milder winters in Zone 19. Plants that grow well here, but not in much colder zones, include bougainvillea, bouvardia, calocephalus, Cape chestnut (Calodendrum), flame pea (Chorizema), several kinds of coral tree (Erythrina), livistona palms, Mexican blue and San Jose hesper palms (Brahea armata, B. brandegeei), giant Burmese honeysuckle (Lonicera hildebrandiana), myoporum, several of the more tender pittosporums, and lady palm (Rhapis excelsa). Extreme winter lows over a 20-year period ranged from 28 to 22°F (–2 to –6°C) and the all-time lows at different weather stations range from 23 to 17°F (–5 to –8°C). These are considerably higher than the temperatures in neighboring Zone 18.

    ZONE 20: Cool winters in Southern California’s areas of occasional ocean influence

    In Zones 20 and 21, the same relative pattern prevails as in Zones 18 and 19. The even-numbered zone is the climate made up of cold-air basins and hilltops, and the odd-numbered one comprises thermal belts. The difference is that Zones 20 and 21 get weather influenced by both maritime air and interior air. In these transitional areas, climate boundaries often move 20 miles in 24 hours with the movements of these air masses. Because of the greater ocean influence, this climate supports a wide variety of plants.You can see the range of them at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia. Typical winter lows are 37° to 43°F (3 to 6°C); extreme 20-year lows average from 25 to 22°F (–4 to –6°C).Alltime record lows range from 21 to 14°F (–6 to –10°C).

    ZONE 21: Thermal belts in Southern California’s areas of occasional ocean influence

    The combination of weather influences described for Zone 20 applies to Zone 21 as well. Your garden can be in ocean air or a high fog one day and in a mass of interior air (perhaps a drying Santa Ana wind from the desert) the next day. Because temperatures rarely drop very far below 30°F (–1°C), this is fine citrusgrowing country. At the same time, Zone 21 is also the mildest zone that gets sufficient winter chilling for most forms of lilacs and certain other chill-loving plants. Extreme lows—the kind you see once every 10 or 20 years—in Zone 21 average 28 to 25°F (–2 to –4°C).All-time record lows in the zone were 27 to 17°F (–3 to –8°C).

    ZONE 22: Cold-winter portions of Southern California’s coastal climate

    Areas falling in Zone 22 have a coastal climate (they are influenced by the ocean approximately 85 percent of the time).When temperatures drop in winter, these cold-air basins or hilltops above the air-drained slopes have lower winter temperatures than those in neighboring Zone 23. Actually, the winters are so mild here that lows seldom fall below freezing. Extreme winter lows (the coldest temperature you can expect in 20 years) average 28 to 25°F (–2 to –4°C). Gardeners who plant under overhangs or tree canopies can grow subtropical plants that would otherwise be burned by a rare frost. Such plants include bananas, tree ferns, and the like. The lack of a pronounced chilling period during the winter limits the use of such deciduous woody plants as flowering cherry and lilac. Many herbaceous perennials from colder regions fail here because the winters are too warm for them to go dormant.

    ZONE 23: Thermal belts of Southern California’s coastal climate

    One of the most favored areas in North America for growing subtropical plants, Zone 23 has always been Southern California’s best zone for avocados. Frosts don’t amount to much here, because 85 percent of the time, Pacific Ocean weather dominates; interior air rules only 15 percent of the time. A notorious portion of this 15 percent consists of those days when hot, dry Santa Ana winds blow. Zone 23 lacks either the summer heat or the winter cold necessary to grow pears,most apples, and most peaches. But it enjoys considerably more heat than Zone 24—enough to put the sweetness in ‘Valencia’ oranges, for example—but not enough for ‘Washington’ naval oranges, which are grown farther inland. Temperatures are mild here, but severe winters descend at times.Average lows range from 43 to 48°F (6 to 9°C), while extreme lows average from 34 to 27°F (1 to –3°C).

    ZONE 24: Marine influence along the Southern California coast

    Stretched along Southern California’s beaches, this climate zone is almost completely dominated by the ocean. Where the beach runs along high cliffs or palisades, Zone 24 extends only to that barrier. But where hills are low or nonexistent, it runs inland several miles.

    This zone has a mild marine climate (milder than Northern California’s maritime Zone 17) because south of Point Conception, the Pacific is comparatively warm. The winters are mild, the summers cool, and the air seldom really dry. On many days in spring and early summer, the sun doesn’t break through the high overcast until afternoon. Tender perennials like geraniums and impatiens rarely go out of bloom here; spathiphyllums and pothos become outdoor plants; and tender palms are safe from killing frosts. In this climate, gardens that include such plants as ornamental figs, rubber trees, and scheffleras can become jungles.

    Zone 24 is coldest at the mouths of canyons that channel cold air down from the mountains on clear winter nights. Several such canyons between Laguna Beach and San Clemente are visible on the map. Numerous others touch the coast between San Clemente and the Mexican border. Partly because of the unusually low temperatures created by this canyon action, there is a broad range of winter lows in Zone 24. Winter lows average from 42°F (5°C) in Santa Barbara to 48°F (9°C) in San Diego. Extreme cold averages from 35° to 28°F (2 to –2°C), with all-time lows in the coldest stations at about 20°F (–6°C).

    The all-time high temperatures aren’t greatly significant in terms of plant growth. The average all-time high of weather stations in Zone 24 is 105°F (41°C). Record heat usually comes in early October, carried to the coast by Santa Ana winds. The wind’s power and dryness usually causes more problems than the heat itself—but you can ameliorate scorching with frequent sprinkling.

    ZONE 11: Medium to high desert of California and southern Nevada

    This climate zone shares similarities with its neighbors—the cold-winter Zones 1, 2, and 3, and the subtropical low desert, Zone 13. Like Zones 1 to 3, Zone 11 has cold winters, and like Zone 13, it has hot summers. Hot summer days are followed by mild nights; near-freezing winter nights are followed by daytime temperatures near 60°F (16°C).On average, there are 110 summer days above 90°F (32°C),with the highest temperatures recorded between 111 and 117°F (44 to 47°C).About 85 nights have temperatures below 32°F (0°C),with lows between 11 and 0°F (–12 to –18°C). If soil moisture is inadequate, the characteristic winds and bright sunlight may combine to dry out normally hardy evergreen plants, killing or badly injuring them.


    The local climate zone (LCZ) classification scheme is a standardization framework to describe the form and function of cities for urban heat island (UHI) studies. This study classifies and evaluates LCZs for two arid desert cities in the Southwestern United States – Phoenix and Las Vegas – following the World Urban Database and Access Portal Tools (WUDAPT) method. Both cities are classified into seven built type LCZs and seven land-cover type LCZs at 100-m resolution using Google Earth, Saga GIS, and Landsat 8 scenes. Average surface cover properties (building fraction, impervious fraction, pervious fraction) and sky view factors of classified LCZs are then evaluated and compared to pre-defined LCZ representative ranges from the literature, and their implications on the surface UHI (SUHI) effect are explained. Results suggest that observed LCZ properties in arid desert environments do not always match the proposed value ranges from the literature, especially with regard to sky view factor (SVF) upper boundaries. Although the LCZ classification scheme was originally designed to describe local climates with respect to air temperature, our analysis shows that much can be learned from investigating land surface temperature (LST) in these zones. This study serves as a substantial new resource laying a foundation for assessing the SUHI in cities using the LCZ scheme, which could inform climate simulations at local and regional scales.

    Nevada Planting Zones – USDA Map Of Nevada Growing Zones

    Click on the image above to see a larger version.

    About Plant Hardiness Zones in Nevada

    Before you start a gardening project, take the time to study the Nevada planting map created by the USDA. This map, new for 2012, yields valuable insight into which flowers, trees and shrubs are suitable for your growing region based on average extreme winter temperatures.

    The new USDA plant hardiness map is based on data collected over the last 30 years from over 8,000 weather stations positioned throughout the country. In addition to extreme winter temperatures, this map also considers an area’s proximity to a large body of water, elevation and urban heat.

    If you live in Nevada, you live in a state with 13 different planting regions. Nevada zones range from 4a through 10a. While the southerly sections of the state have a very mild winter with lows well above freezing, the mountainous regions can drop to a frigid -30 F. In order to be a successful gardener in this state, it is critical to know your zone. Simply enlarge the Nevada plant map above and find your location to determine your zone.

    Greenhouses and other retail plant outlets will be able to help you make the best decisions when it comes to planting in Nevada.

    Sunset Climate Zones: California/Nevada

    ZONE 1. Coldest Winters in the West and Western Prairie States
    Growing season: early June through Aug., but with some variation―the longest seasons are usually found near this zone’s large bodies of water. Frost can come any night of the year. Winters are snowy and intensely cold, due to latitude, elevation, and/or influence of continental air mass. There’s some summer rainfall.

    ZONE 2. Second-coldest Western Climate
    Growing season: early May through Sept. Winters are cold (lows run from -3 degrees to -34 degrees F/-19 degrees to -37 degrees C), but less so than in Zone 1. In northern and interior areas, lower elevations fall into Zone 2, higher areas into Zone 1.

    ZONE 3. West’s Mildest High-elevation and Interior Regions
    Growing season: early May to late Sept.–shorter than in Zone 2, but offset by milder winters (lows from 13 degrees to -24 degrees F/-11 degrees to -31 degrees C). This is fine territory for plants needing winter chill and dry, hot summers.

    ZONE 7. Oregon’s Rogue River Valley, California’s High Foothills
    Growing season: May to early Oct. Summers are hot and dry; typical winter lows run from 23 degrees to 9 degrees F/-5 degrees to -13 degrees C. The summer-winter contrast suits plants that need dry, hot summers and moist, only moderately cold winters.

    ZONE 8. Cold-air Basins of California’s Central Valley
    Growing season: mid-Feb. through Nov. This is a valley floor with no maritime influence. Summers are hot; winter lows range from 29 degrees to 13 degrees F/-2 degrees to -11 degrees C. Rain comes in the cooler months, covering just the early part of the growing season.

    ZONE 9. Thermal Belts of California’s Central Valley
    Growing season: late Feb. through Dec. Zone 9 is located in the higher elevations around Zone 8, but its summers are just as hot; its winter lows are slightly higher (temperatures range from 28 degrees to 18 degrees F/-2 degrees to -8 degrees C). Rainfall pattern is the same as in Zone 8.

    ZONE 10. High Desert Areas of Arizona, New Mexico, West Texas, Oklahoma Panhandle, and Southwest Kansas
    Growing season: April to early Nov. Chilly (even snow-dusted) weather rules from late Nov. through Feb., with lows from 31 degrees to 24 degrees F/-1 degree to -4 degrees C. Rain comes in summer as well as in the cooler seasons.

    ZONE 11. Medium to High Desert of California and Southern Nevada
    Growing season: early April to late Oct. Summers are sizzling, with 110 days above 90 degrees F/32 degrees C. Balancing this is a 3 1/2-month winter, with 85 nights below freezing and lows from 11 degrees to 0 degrees F/-12 degrees to -18 degrees C. Scant rainfall comes in winter.

    ZONE 12. Arizona’s Intermediate Desert
    Growing season: mid-Mar. to late Nov., with scorching midsummer heat. Compared to Zone 13, this region has harder frosts; record low is 6 degrees F/-14 degrees C. Rains come in summer and winter.

    ZONE 13. Low or Subtropical Desert
    Growing season: mid-Feb. through Nov., interrupted by nearly 3 months of incandescent, growth-stopping summer heat. Most frosts are light (record lows run from 19 degrees to 13 degrees F/-17 degrees to -11 degrees C); scant rain comes in summer and winter.

    ZONE 14. Inland Northern and Central California with Some Ocean Influence
    Growing season: early Mar. to mid-Nov., with rain coming in the remaining months. Periodic intrusions of marine air temper summer heat and winter cold (lows run from 26 degrees to 16 degrees F/-3 degrees to -9 degrees C). Mediterranean-climate plants are at home here.

    ZONE 15. Northern and Central California’s Chilly-winter Coast-influenced Areas
    Growing season: Mar. to Dec. Rain comes from fall through winter. Typical winter lows range from 28 degrees to 21 degrees F/-2 degrees to -6 degrees C. Maritime air influences the zone much of the time, giving it cooler, moister summers than Zone 14.

    ZONE 16. Northern and Central California Coast Range Thermal Belts
    Growing season: late Feb. to late Nov. With cold air draining to lower elevations, winter lows typically run from 32 degrees to 19 degrees F/0 degrees to -7 degrees C. Like Zone 15, this region is dominated by maritime air, but its winters are milder on average.

    ZONE 17. Oceanside Northern and Central California and Southernmost Oregon
    Growing season: late Feb. to early Dec. Coolness and fog are hallmarks; summer highs seldom top 75 degrees F/24 degrees C, while winter lows run from 36 degrees to 23 degrees F/2 degrees to -5 degrees C. Heat-loving plants disappoint or dwindle here.

    ZONE 18. Hilltops and Valley Floors of Interior Southern California
    Growing season: mid-Mar. through late Nov. Summers are hot and dry; rain comes in winter, when lows reach 28 degrees to 10 degrees F/-2 degrees to -12 degrees C. Plants from the Mediterranean and Near Eastern regions thrive here.

    ZONE 19. Thermal Belts around Southern California’s Interior Valleys
    Growing season: early Mar. through Nov. As in Zone 18, rainy winters and hot, dry summers are the norm―but here, winter lows dip only to 27 degrees to 22 degrees F/-3 degrees to -6 degrees C, allowing some tender evergreen plants to grow outdoors with protection.

    ZONE 20. Hilltops and Valley Floors of Ocean-influenced Inland Southern California
    Growing season: late Mar. to late Nov.–but fairly mild winters (lows of 28 degrees to 23 degrees F/-2 degrees to -5 degrees C) allow gardening through much of the year. Cool and moist maritime influence alternates with hot, dry interior air.

    ZONE 21. Thermal Belts around Southern California’s Ocean-influenced Interior Valleys
    Growing season: early Mar. to early Dec., with the same tradeoff of oceanic and interior influence as in Zone 20. During the winter rainy season, lows range from 36 degrees to 23 degrees F/2 degrees to -5 degrees C―warmer than in Zone 20, since the colder air drains to the valleys.

    ZONE 22. Colder-winter Parts of Southern California’s Coastal Region
    Growing season: Mar. to early Dec. Winter lows seldom fall below 28 degrees F/-2 degrees C (records are around 21 degrees F/-6 degrees C), though colder air sinks to this zone from Zone 23. Summers are warm; rain comes in winter. Climate here is largely oceanic.

    ZONE 23. Thermal Belts of Southern California’s Coastal Region
    Growing season: almost year-round (all but first half of Jan.). Rain comes in winter. Reliable ocean influence keeps summers mild (except when hot Santa Ana winds come from inland), frosts negligible; 23 degrees F/-5 degrees C is the record low.

    ZONE 24. Marine-dominated Southern California Coast
    Growing season: all year, but periodic freezes have dramatic effects (record lows are 33 degrees to 20 degrees F/1 degree to -7 degrees C). Climate here is oceanic (but warmer than oceanic Zone 17), with cool summers, mild winters. Subtropical plants thrive.

    The Challenge of Gardening in the Southwest

    The Southwest climate is unique! If you take a trip to your nearby bookstore and peruse the garden section, you’ll see a wonderful selection of garden books. Many of these are full of photos of lush gardens filled with hydrangeas, rhododendrons and other gorgeous plants – plants that haven’t a prayer in a Southwest garden. Unlike the authors of those books, we live in a dry climate where rainwater is in short supply, but sunshine is ample. This is why we decided to create Southwest Gardening as a source of realistic – but optimistic – information on how to grow plants in our arid part of the continent. Our Southwest climate challenges don’t prevent us from having beautiful gardens.

    Rainy day in the Sonoran desert.

    When we refer to zones in our blog posts, we’re using the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones, which are assigned mostly based on low temperatures that affect plant survival. Another source for Southwest gardeners is the Sunset climate zone map.

    Zones and climate are important when choosing plants for your home garden. We will occasionally also discuss “microclimate.” One example of microclimate is a sunny south-facing wall in your yard. That small spot will be even warmer than the rest of your yard.

    Here at Southwest Gardening, we can help you feel more confident in choosing and caring for plants you love, even in Southwest climate extremes.

    Low Desert of Arizona and Eastern California

    Low desert landscape. The low deserts include Phoenix and Yuma. Tucson is considered intermediate desert.

    The low deserts of the Southwest are best known for their summer heat. In Phoenix and other low deserts areas – the summers are long and hot. This region includes Yuma, Coachella Valley, and along the lower Colorado River. Our highs typically hit the century mark 110 days per year and can exceed 115 degrees. The low desert has mild winters, with seven or fewer days of freezing temperatures. Our growing season lasts from mid-February through late November. We can grow vegetables nearly all year-long, and start cool-season plants in mid-September and October. We plant warm-season vegetables in March.

    Low Desert Division

    Much of the region is part of the Sonoran Desert and enjoys two rainy seasons, with central Arizona attaining an average annual precipitation of 8 inches. In the Sonoran Desert regions, some of the rain comes in winter, but torrential rainfall can sweep through the desert during summer monsoons. The Sonoran Desert is lush, filled with small, shrubby trees and columnar cacti. Home gardeners can mimic nature in their landscape and add a few native flowering plants, even some tropical and sub-tropical plants with a little extra care.

    Eastern California and westernmost Arizona is part of the Mojave Desert generally get only slow gentle winter rains, very rarely the summer monsoon rains. Average rainfall is less, around 4 inches of rain per year. Landscapes can still be lush, and homeowners can include perennials, herbs, flowering shrubs, cacti and other lovely succulents in their landscapes.

    Southwest Gardening’s Noelle Johnson lives in the Phoenix Area.

    Southwest Intermediate Deserts – Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, California, and Texas

    Middle desert yard.

    The intermediate deserts of the Southwest include areas of the Chihuahuan, Mojave, and Sonoran Deserts found in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas. While most people think of deserts as dry and hot, these intermediate regions also feature notable wet and cold periods.

    Summertime highs over 100 degrees are common, but winter lows in the teens are also common. Areas that get sufficient hours of cold (called “chill hours”) can grow temperate fruit trees such as apricots and apples. The vegetable growing season is generally year-round, with marked times for planting cool-season or warm-season plants. Many garden favorites such as roses and iris do well here.

    Intermediate Desert Division

    In these Southwest deserts, there are two marked rainy seasons. Gentle soaking winter rains off the Pacific Ocean grace the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. Torrential summer thundershowers sweep in off the Gulf of Mexico, and fall upon the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts. Some areas commonly get both rains so that the average rainfall in the intermediate desert region is 2.5 to 12 inches, depending on your location.

    Local vegetation varies from dense to sparse. If you plan on watering your garden, at least occasionally, you can grow virtually anything from these three deserts in your garden, along with a plethora of arid-adapted plants from around the world, like Greek oregano, Roman chamomile, or palm trees from the Sahara.

    The intermediate deserts include El Paso, Las Vegas, Lordsburg, and Tucson.

    Southwest Gardening’s Jacqueline Soule lives in the Tucson Area.

    High Desert and Mountains – New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona

    High desert and foothills near Ruidoso, N.M.

    Many Southwestern states range from the coldest mountain climates to low desert. Most of New Mexico falls within high desert and intermountain climate zones. The high desert areas average 12 inches of rain a year. Closer to mountains, rainfall is a little more abundant. The temperature in mountainous high deserts can vary 15 degrees from canyons and pockets of cool air to nearby sunny slopes. What’s more, high, cool deserts can peak at more than 100 degrees on hot summer days and below freezing several times each winter.

    The USDA places Albuquerque in zone 7, with variations from the city’s foothills to its valleys. New Mexico State University Extension divides home vegetable gardening into three areas based on average number of frost-free days and average date of last frost. Knowing these areas is helpful for planting new plants and timing when to start a vegetable garden.

    • Area 1 is the warmest area, covering the southern high deserts and west of Las Cruces, and east from near Roswell to the Texas border. The last frost typically is in early to mid-April.
    • Area 2, with last frosts typically hitting between April 20 and May 10, covers Albuquerque, most of the Rio Grande Valley from the edge of Santa Fe south, and the Northeastern high plains.
    • Area 3 is the coldest, with last frosts hitting Between May 10 and June 1. Taos and most of northern New Mexico, along with Gallup, fall into this region.

    Southwest Gardening’s Teresa Odle lives in Area 3, in the mountains of southern New Mexico.

    Texas – From the Panhandle to the Gulf

    The Rio Grande in southwest Texas.

    Few states have more varied gardening zones within their borders than Texas. This is not merely because of its size. The Lone Star State stretches westward from the edge of the Mississippi Delta to the Chihuahuan Desert, from the Panhandle in the north to the southern sweep of the Gulf Coast, ending in Brownsville. This large expanse is mostly flat, leaving the state at the mercy of huge weather changes sweeping down from the Great Plains and up from the Gulf Coast. Temperatures can vary as much at 30 degrees in a 24-hour period. Sunny skies can switch to violent thunderstorm and tornado warning in a few hours.

    Texas is divided into five gardening regions. to see the map developed by Texas A&M. The dividing lines are the same as the USDA cold-hardiness zone maps but you’ll need to know a little more than that to garden in these regions. Here’s a quick rundown of each zone.

    Texas Zones
    • Zone I – This dry region covers the Panhandle, a region dominated by weather coming south off the Rockies or from Canada and the Great Plains. Summer highs average well into the 90’s. Winter often has sustained sub-freezing temperatures in January and February.
    • Zone II – Stretching from the western deserts to the Piney Woods in the east, this section could really be divided into two parts. The largest section, including Lubbock and El Paso, is generally thought of as West Texas with a steady dry climate all its own. The eastern section, bordered as it is by the Red River and the Mississippi Valley, has a higher rainfall (up to 35 inches) and more moderate temperatures.
    • Zone III – Of all the garden zones in Texas, this has probably the most varied growing conditions. Gardens here are buffeted alternatively by weather coming down from the Great Plains or sweeping up from the Gulf of Mexico. These opposing forces do battle with the occasional storm front off the Pacific that passes through the Southwest. Rainfall varies from 14 to 30 inches per year.
    • Zone IV and V – Moving south we reach an area dominated by the Gulf Coast to the west and the highland desert areas to the west. Gardening here is year-round but requires plants to endure high temperatures and high humidity. Average rainfall is 40-60 inches, with much more when a hurricane hits.

    Southwest Gardening’s Ann McCormick lives in Texas.

    Plant Database

    The PLANTS Database is a complete guide to the vascular plants (and mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens) of the and its territories with more than 500 Fact Sheets and Plant Guides on the uses, establishment, and management of selected conservation plants. Find plants by state, distribution, threatened and endangered species, noxious weeds and over 40,000 plant images. Developed by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

    Trees for Conservation – planning, planting, care– Published by Colorado State Forest Service, this publication provides complete information on planting and maintaining conservation trees.

    Planting Guide from Colorado Forest Service Complete guide to planning and caring for tree/shrub seedlings.

    Trees are Good An educational site sponsored by the International Society of Arboriculture ISA that provides quality tree care information.

    How to Prune Trees was written to help people properly prune the trees they care about. If you doubt your ability to safely prune large trees, please hire a professional arborist.

    – Harvest forecasts, fact sheets, and additional resources

    Drip Irrigation

    Taking the Guesswork out of Drip Irrigation From Sunset Magazine this two page handout is an easy-to-use guide to determine how much water your plants need and how often to water with a drip irrigation system.

    Ins and Outs of Drip Irrigation. Chapter 7 from the Small Ranch Projects Guided by Nevada Cooperative Extension, provides complete information on types of drip irrigation systems, assessing water pressure and availability, estimating the number of emitters and basic drip irrigation installation and use information.– This site is a self described… mother lode of free irrigation information, offering descriptions and illustrations of putting together drip irrigation systems, the supplies needed, installing drip systems on hillsides, gravity flow systems and much more.

    Climate Information

    Plant Hardiness Zone Maps: 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map , and the 2015 National Arbor Day Foundation Hardiness Zone Map with revised hardiness zones based upon changing climatic trends from 5,000 National Climatic Data Center stations in Nevada. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension

    University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Horticulture Program has many publications on watering wisely, plant selection and environmentally friendly landscape techniques.

    A field guide to collecting seeds in Nevada

    Fire and Plants

    Fire Effects Information Services (FEIS) provides up-to-date information about fire effects on plants, lichens, and animals. The emphasis of each report is fire and how it affects species. Background information on taxonomy, distribution, basic biology, and ecology of each species is also included. See also Choosing the Right Plants – For Northern Nevada’s High Fire Hazard Areas

    Noxious Weeds

    Nevada Natural Heritage Program maintains an inventory of all threatened, endangered, sensitive and at risk species, and biological communities and noxious weed infestations in Nevada.


    Windbreak handouts Search for the following windbreak handouts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln website.

    • Drip Irrigation Design for Windbreaks
    • Drip Irrigation Design for Windbreaks
    • How Windbreaks Work
    • Windbreak Design
    • Windbreak Establishment
    • Windbreaks for Rural Living

    Additional information on drip irrigation and conservation plant resources specific to growing in northern or southern Nevada are on the Elko, Washoe State Tree Nursery and Las Vegas State Tree Nursery web pages.

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