There’s Something Worse Than USDA Zone 1!

Since we’ve been on kind of a “meta” kick with some of our posts lately, I kind of wanted to explore a recent interaction and learning experience I had with one of our readers.

For the longest time, perhaps my entire life of growing perennials, I’ve always assumed that the USDA growing zone 1 was “as bad as it gets” with growing.

This is cold. Really cold. Like -50F to -60F, cold. Imagine a 75 to 90 day growing season where you maybe get mid June to mid-August to grow. As you might image, this kind of growing season really limits your options. We aren’t that far off, growing in zone 2, but we at least have a solid three months to work with.

If you’re growing at the tippy top of Alaska, decidedly in the actual arctic where even trees don’t grow, this is your situation. Still, growing is possible! And we are at least trying to provide some guidance for these folks, identifying plants that have short maturity times and can feasibly be grown in these climates. Our recent interactions have indicated we need to do even more on this front!

As for the revelation? There’s a growing zone 0. Yes, zero. You wouldn’t know it, of course, unless you were trying to grow in the hinterlands of the historic Hudson’s Bay Company territory in northeastern Canada. There, you will find plenty of land that is fully classified as zone 0A and 0B. -60F to -70F winter lows. And even less of a growing season. Our known perennial list drops to zero. But, guess what? People are growing things there, too!

When you look into the geography of this place, it is literally mind bending. The latitudes are on par with Juneau, Alaska, which finds itself comfortably ranging from USDA zone 4 to 7. Even if you throw that out for coastal influence and go further inland to British Columbia and Alberta, you still get zones 4 and 5 at that latitude. Yet, clearly, there are significant climatologic influences from Greenland, the northern Canadian arctic archipelago and also likely southern trade winds that drop this place into the coldest region on earth. It doesn’t make sense, yet, there it is. Zone 0.

This kind of interaction is honestly one of the best things we’ve experienced with starting the whole “Frosty Garden” thing and trying to be a resource for extreme northern growers. It has been as much a learning experience for us as it has been for all of you. (Hopefully, anyway!) Putting ourselves “out there” has given us an incredible amount of insight into where northerners live, what they’re trying to grow and the challenges that northern growing actually has to overcome.

That’s All We Wrote!

Having a good time?  We have an ever growing list of insightful and helpful subarctic & cold climate gardening articles, waiting out there for you! is 100% ad-free and we do not use affiliate links!  This resource is voluntarily supported by our readers.  (Like YOU!)  If we provided you value, would you consider supporting us?

💚 Support! 💚

0 comments… add one

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *