Discover Michigan’s Planting Zones — Plus 4 Keys to Keeping Flowers, Shrubs, and Trees Alive

Written by Alyssa Shea
Published: September 9, 2023
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Hardiness zones play a big role when it comes to planning what you want your garden or yard to look like. While some plants might flourish in your zone, others will surely fail to thrive. Whether you’re new to gardening or a veteran green thumb, it’s crucial to be prepared with the knowledge this article provides. If you live in Michigan, this information will help you have a successful growing season!

The USDA Hardiness Zones were first established by n 1927 by Dr. Alfred Rehder.

©USDA, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

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How to Understand and Utilize the Hardiness Zone Map

One look at the hardiness zone map might have you running, but don’t feel daunted by its information! It’s easy to use once you understand how to use these maps. Hardiness zone maps are maintained and updated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These maps divide the United States and parts of Canada into color-coded zones, 13 zones in total. On average, you will find that each zone is 10 degrees warmed or colder on average in winter, depending on its adjacent zone.

While gardeners can account for things like soil type and position, the hardiness zone will tell you which plants, vegetables, or trees can survive the winter or a spring frost in your area. Michigan’s USDA hardiness zones are 4, 5, and 6, so keep that in mind when you decide to begin gardening. If you live in the northern area of Michigan, you will be in Zone 4. Zone 5 belongs to the middle of the state, and Zone 6 can be found along the eastern and western sides of the state, bordered by water on both sides.

4 Tips to Help Your Flowers, Shrubs, and Trees Thrive

Repotting pothos plant

Keeping a healthy garden or lawn can help the environment by providing pollinators and effectively cleaning the air.

©Dragon Images/

1. Choose Your Gardening Site Accordingly

You need to plan out the area you choose to begin growing your shrubs, trees, and other plants. Some plants might need full sun or partial shade. West or south-facing sites are crucial when it comes to allowing your site eight to 10 hours of sun per day. Also, it’s important to ensure that the soil you’re planting in is well-draining and that the pH level is correct for the type of plant you’re using.

2. Starting Seeds Indoors Can Help

Many gardeners can attest to the benefits of starting seedlings indoors. Usually, the last frost date for Michigan is recognized as can actually extend into June, depending on where you’re located. The date that you start your specific seedling will depend on the type of plant you’re growing. A good general rule of thumb is to begin your seedlings about 6-10 weeks before the last frost date. Make sure you have containers, seed starter mixes, fertilizer, and a way to mark your plants! 

3. Consider Using Native Plants and Trees

One of the best ways to ensure that your plants, shrubs, and trees grow well is to use species that are native to your area. Picking these specific types of vegetation will ensure that they’re well-adapted to Michigan’s climate and weather patterns. It’s known that native plants and trees create the healthiest environment and ecosystem, meaning they can host more types of insects that are found in the area.

4. Understand the Local Growing Season

The growing season for Michigan varies by location. You will find most zones support a typical start date range of April 15th to May 31st. The growing season tends to end between September 1st to November 1st. Understanding that your planting zones vary depending on location, but will fall into the range of zones 4a through 6b, means you will need to choose vegetation that can survive in these locations.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sakorn Sukkasemsakorn/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

I'm a 36-year-old mother of 2 and military wife. I have 2 dogs and a cat that I'm thoroughly obsessed with. When I'm not writing for work, I'm writing as a hobby. You can find me knee deep in a pile of books or way too invested in a video game.

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