Plants for zone 8

Zone 8 Plants – Tips On Growing Plants In Zone 8

When you are selecting plants for your garden or backyard, it is important to know your hardiness zone and choose plants that thrive there. The U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the country into hardiness zones 1 through 12, based on the winter temperature in the different regions.

Plants that are hardy in Zone 1 accept the coldest temperatures, while plants in the higher zones only survive in warmer areas. USDA Zone 8 covers most of the Pacific Northwest and a great swath of the South, including Texas and Florida. Read on to learn about plants that grow well in Zone 8.

Growing Plants in Zone 8

If you live in Zone 8, your region has mild winters with the low temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit (10 and -6 C.). Most Zone 8 areas have temperate summer climates with cooler nights and a long growing season. This combination allows for lovely flowers and thriving vegetable plots.

Zone 8 Gardening Tips for Vegetables

Here are a few gardening tips for growing vegetables. When you are growing plants in Zone 8, you can plant most of the familiar garden vegetables, sometimes even twice a year.

In this zone, you can put in your vegetable seeds early enough to contemplate successive plantings. Try this with cool-season vegetables like carrots, peas, celery and broccoli. Cool season vegetables grow in temperatures 15 degrees cooler than warm season veggies.

Salad greens and green leafy vegetables, like collards and spinach, are also cool-season vegetables and will do well as Zone 8 plants. Sow these seeds early – in early spring or even late winter – for good eating in early summer. Sow again in early fall for a winter harvest.

Zone 8 Plants

But vegetables are only part of a garden’s summer bounty in Zone 8. Plants can include a vast variety of perennials, herbs, trees and vines that thrive in your backyard. You can grow herbaceous perennial edibles that come back year after year like:

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Cardoon
  • Prickly pear cactus
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries

When you are growing plants in Zone 8, think fruit trees and brambles. So many types of fruit trees and shrubs make good choices. You can grow backyard orchard favorites like:

  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Apricot
  • Fig
  • Cherry
  • Citrus trees
  • Nut trees

If you want something different, branch out with persimmons, pineapple guava or pomegranates.

Almost all herbs are happy in Zone 8. Try planting:

  • Chives
  • Sorrel
  • Thyme
  • Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sage

Flowering plants that grow well in Zone 8 are plentiful, and far too many to name here. Popular choices include:

  • Bird of paradise
  • Bottlebrush
  • Butterfly bush
  • Hibiscus
  • Christmas cactus
  • Lantana
  • Indian hawthorn

The Gardening Zone Series, 13 Bloggers Talk About Gardening in Zones 3 to 9.

This is my first gardening year in Texas. Last fall I moved 2300 miles from the Pacific Northwest to Central Texas. Funny enough, both of my gardens are in zone 8b – and I thought “no sweat, I can do this! I’ve been gardening for years and I’m just trading one garden for another, right?”. Unfortunately, they are both in zone 8b, but they couldn’t be more different.

What Does It Mean to Be in Gardening Zone 8b?

It’s All About Freezing Temperatures

The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at their location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones. The division of zones into a and b is done in 5-degree F increments. Zone 8b means that the average minimum winter temperature is 15 to 20 °F. Zone 8a has an average minimum winter temperature of 10-15 °F.

When you purchase a plant that is described as “hardy to zone 8”, it means that the plant can withstand a range of minimum temperatures (zone 8a and 8b) from 10 °F to 20 °F . A more resilient plant that is “hardy to zone 7” can tolerate a minimum temperature of 0 °F. See the Hardiness Zone Chart below.

That blue zone is me! You would think that I could just pick up and start gardening where I left off, but you’d be wrong. Why is there such a difference in zone 8 throughout the country?

I’ve Learned That It’s All About Timing.

Each of these areas of the country has different gardening seasons. In the Pacific Northwest, November through February is the “off season.” The only way you are going to be growing anything is if you have added cold frames, greenhouses, and cloches to your garden repertoire. People are successful growing many cold weather crops in the off season of the Pacific Northwest using these tools.

Gardening Under Cove by William Head and Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman (affiliate links) are excellent books to learn about ways to keep your garden growing in cold months.

Central Texas’s off season is just about opposite and falls in July and August. These months the climate is so hot that most gardeners “take the summer off” by planning their crop harvest for June. The season begins again in September with their cool crop rotation. Warm weather crops are planted in March and mature by the end of June.

Luckily I can use all that prior Oregon gardening knowledge in my new Texas garden! I’ve also learned that I can grow everything in Texas that I could in Oregon – and even more. Now okra, cotton, peanuts and all kinds of melons are itching to get into my garden.

These 8 Tips Will Help You Be Successful in Garden Zone 8b, No Matter Which Area of the Country You Live.

  1. Have your frost protection ready – Even in Texas 8b, plants are susceptible to frost damage, just not as frequently or for such extended periods of time. You still need to have frost protection ready. Learn about using a simple cloche from recycled materials and adding a grow tunnel to raised beds. Even a sheet will keep frost off your prized starts in a pinch.
  2. Use a cover crop in the offseason to protect and build your soil. Soil building is the key, no matter what zone you live in. The time for your cover crop in the PNW is after the fall harvest – October through January. Texas cover crops are used in the hot season and are planted at the end of June, with plans for tilling in September.
  3. Don’t start too early. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wasted perfectly good plants by setting them out too early. It wastes your effort, time and money. Pay attention to the first and last frost date for your area and don’t push it too much. (but push it a little!)
  4. Make plans for heat protection by using strategic planting methods. Utilize afternoon shade by placing tall plants on the west side of the garden. While planning my new Texas garden, I chose to make use of a fence on the west side. I’m hoping that the afternoon shade will allow my lettuce and spinach to grow longer before bolting.
  5. Use water saving measures in the garden. Drip irrigation and rain catchment practices will make your watering time easier. Learn about the benefits of mulch and other permaculture practices that help to conserve water in the garden.
  6. Connect with gardeners in your area. Consider joining a local gardening club or find a local group on Facebook. The Pflugerville Gardeners group has been a great place to ask questions. At the very least visit the library and check out a good gardening book for your area.
  7. Keep records from year to year. I’m a big believer in keeping a garden journal. I have at one time or another kept a red notebook, binder, and even used an online system. I’ve found that the most consistent way for me to me to keep track – year to year – is The Gardening Notebook (affiliate) from SchneiderPeeps. I use it as my garden journal, yearly garden planner, and I expect it to be my future garden problem solver.The Gardening Notebook has been especially insightful to me as I adjust to the new garden seasons of Texas. I can look back and apply what I learned from Oregon to my new garden here. All garden knowledge is helpful.
  8. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. Gardening is about experimenting, after all! Just because the gardening books say it won’t grow in your zone – doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Grow something outside your comfort “zone” and see what works best for you.

Zone 8 gardening can be challenging and rewarding, no matter which part of the country “your zone 8” is in, if you take these 8 steps you will be successful.

Remember, it’s all about the zone! See what my friends around the country are saying about gardening in their zone. You will certainly find an article to fit your situation.

Zone 3
Joybilee Farm in Canada
The Northern Homestead in Canada
Zone 4
Homespun Seasonal Living in Montana
Idlewild Alaska in Alaska
Zone 5
Grow a Good Life in Maine
The Homestead Lady in Utah
Zone 6
Learning and Yearning in Pennsylvania
Zone 7
Little Sprouts Learning in Oklahoma
Pierce Ponderosa in Georgia
Zone 8
Homemaking Organized in Washington
The Farmer’s Lamp in Louisiana
Preparedness Mama in Texas
Zone 9
SchneiderPeeps in Texas

Zone 8 Vegetable Gardening: When To Plant Vegetables In Zone 8

Gardeners living in zone 8 enjoy hot summers and long growing seasons. Spring and autumn in zone 8 are cool. Growing vegetables in zone 8 is pretty easy if you get those seeds started at the right time. Read on for information on exactly when to plant vegetables in zone 8.

Zone 8 Vegetable Gardening

It’s a perfect scenario for vegetable gardens, the long, warm summers and cooler shoulder seasons that are typical in zone 8. In this zone, the last spring frost date is generally April 1 and the first winter frost date is December 1. That leaves eight solid frost-free months for growing vegetables in zone 8. And you can start your crops earlier indoors.

Vegetable Planting Guide for Zone 8

A common question regarding planting is when to plant vegetables in zone 8. For spring and summer crops, zone 8 vegetable gardening can start as early as the first days of February. That’s the time to start seeds indoors for cool weather vegetables. Be sure to get your seeds early so that you can follow the vegetable planting guide for zone 8.

Which cool weather vegetables should to be started indoors in early February? If you are growing cool-weather crops like broccoliand cauliflower, start them at the beginning of the month in zone 8. The vegetable planting guide for zone 8 instructs you to plant other veggie seeds indoors in mid-February. These include:

  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Spinach

Tomatoesand onionscan also be started indoors around the middle of February. These seeds will turn into seedlings before you know it. The next step is transplanting the seedlings outside.

When to plant vegetables in zone 8 outdoors? Broccoli and cauliflower can go out in early March. The rest of the cool weather crops should wait a few more weeks. Tomato and onion seedlings get transplanted in April. According to the vegetable planting guide for zone 8, beansshould be started indoors in mid-March.

Plant seeds for Brussel sprouts indoors in early April, and corn, cucumberand squashin mid-April. Transfer these outside in May or June, or you can direct sow them outdoors at this time. Be sure to harden off seedlings prior to planting out.

If you are doing a second round of veggies for fall and winter crops, start seeds inside in August and September. Broccoli and cabbage can get underway in early August. Plant beets, cauliflower, carrots, kale and lettuce in mid-August, and peas and spinach in early September. For zone 8 vegetable gardening, all of these should go into outdoor beds by the end of September. Broccoli and cabbage can go out early in the month, the rest a little later.

Zone 8 is one of 13 hardiness zones in the United States. Like all zones, it is divided into two subsets. These are Zones 8a and 8b. The zone designation can help you select plants suitable for your zone’s cold temperatures.

Temperatures for Zone 8

Each zone is separated by a 10°F temperature difference. This means that Zone 8 is 10° colder than Zone 9, and Zone 9 is 10° colder than Zone 10 and so on.

Subset Zone Temperature

Each zone also has two subsets. Zone 8 subsets are designated as Zone 8a and Zone 8b. Each zone subset is separated by 5°F.

That means for Zone 8:

  • Zone 8: The zone minimum average temperature is 10° to 20°F
  • Zone 8a: The zone minimum average temperature is 10° to 15°F
  • Zone 8b: The zone minimum average temperature is 15° to 20°F

The temperature ranges in each zone and each zone subset are averages of the typical low temperatures you can expect. The temperatures can often dip below the average range during harsh winters and unusual weather patterns.

Zone Boundary Changes of 2012

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) was updated in 2012. Many zones were placed about a half-zone higher over the 1990 map. Many gardeners have questioned these degree changes, thinking perhaps they reflect a warming across the United States. However, The National Gardening Association suggests not only does newer technology allow for more accurate weather mapping, but it also allows weather stations to participate in the mapping by providing data. Both factors contribute to the degree changes reflected in the newer maps.

List of Zone 8 States

Obviously, no state falls into just one zone. Most states have multiple hardiness zones that are influenced by topography and climate conditions. The Zone 8 region covers the coasts from West to East but most states fall in the south. There are 20 states, plus Washington, D.C., with hardiness zone 8 areas. These include:


  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • California
  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • Arizona


  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Oklahoma
  • Louisiana
  • Arkansas
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Tennessee

Southern East Coast

  • Florida
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Washington, D.C.

Plants to Grow in Zone 8

The temperatures in Zone 8 means the possibility of growing a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, flowers, trees, and other plants. Choices for vegetable plants and fruit trees are abundant.

  • You can grow nearly any vegetable you desire, such as tomatoes, okra, beans, peppers, and more.
  • Mediterranean herbs thrive in Zone 8, such as rosemary, parsley, rosemary, oregano, and others.
  • You can grow most fruit trees that include, figs, apples, peaches, pears, bananas, and citrus.
  • Berries are ideal garden choices for Zone 8.
  • Local nurseries and big box stores are a great resource for the varieties of plants suitable for your zone.

Tips for Zone 8 Gardening

Typically, the temperature during the winter doesn’t fall below 32°.

  • By using mulch, especially leaf mulch around cool/cold weather vegetables, such as lettuce, choi, spinach, etc., you can extend your growing season throughout much of the fall and winter.
  • You can protect winter plants in Zone 8 with a row cover, just be sure to raise the cover on sunny winter days to avoid overheating plants.
  • You can also extend your growing season by using hoop tunnels over crop rows and raised beds.

Finding Your Zone Frost Dates

You can use The National Gardening Association’s frost date app to find the first and last frosts for Zone 8.

  • First frost date: The first frost occurs between October 11 and October 20.
  • Last frost date: The last frost occurs between March 21 and March 31.

These dates represent an average time for first and last frosts, but don’t take into account unusual weather patterns that can cause more frequent freezes, as well as lower than normal temperatures. You can stay informed on the latest frost dates by downloading the app. Then, enter your ZIP code for a real-time frost timetable.

Things Not Included in Zone Hardiness

There are many things not included in the zone hardiness designations. The hardiness zones are guidelines for selecting plants to grow in a particular zone capable of surviving the winter temperatures. The zone guides don’t include microclimates, soil fertility, droughts, soil conditions, rainfall and unusual weather patterns. These conditions are very important to plant growing progress and can be found in Sunset’s The New Western Garden Book.

Gardening in Zone 8

Zone 8 can provide you with an extended growing season that is longer than many other zones. The USDA hardiness guide can provide you with the correct zone subset where you live. You can apply this knowledge when making plant selections.

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