Proven Winners Direct™ Zone Guide: Zone 3


Zone 3 sees a minimum average temperature of -40 to -30°F. It has short, mild summers and long biting winters. Subsequently, spring and fall are short transitions as well. While some areas of Zone 3 can see more rain than others, precipitation tends to be both cold and plentiful. Therefore, plants need to withstand very cold and wet conditioners in order to survive in this climate. 

You can find Zone 3 climates in 13 states overall including Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The last frost date of spring generally occurs from early to mid May, while the first frost date in fall tends to happen in mid September. This gives gardeners around 120 days to plant and enjoy tending to their gardens for the season. 

Like any zone, frost dates will vary slightly from year to year. It’s important to check the Old Farmer’s Almanac for more accurate weather predictions for the current year.

The list below contains some of our favorite zone 3 offerings!


  • Oso Easy Hot Paprika® Landscape Rose is a hardy, bold, and versatile landscape rose that grows low to the ground and produces truly eye-catching color. Not to mention that bees love it!


  • The Incrediball® Smooth Hydrangea is a classic and long-time favorite of ours. In fact, it’s even the Proven Winners® 2023 Landscape Shrub of the Year! Gorgeous, massive blooms atop strong stems and a strong history of success make this a hard hydrangea to pass up. 

  • Shadowland® ‘Diamond Lake’ Hosta is a cool-colored leafy option for beds or the landscape. It fans out in a wonderful pattern, filling space with great foliage without overtaking the rest of your display.

Annuals are always a fantastic way to expand your choice of plants, and you can try new varieties each year. If they’re planted between frost dates, most should fair just fine for the length of the growing season. However, it’s always important to consider your particular garden conditions. Hours of sunlight, soil conditions, and other factors will greatly impact how a plant preforms.

As with zones 1 and 2, starting plants indoors can drastically extend the growing season for vegetables and annual flowers. Transplanting can happen any time after the last frost date, so sometime in mid to late May should be perfect but be sure to double check!

For a complete list of plants that are suitable for zone 3, click here! If you’d like to learn more about gardening zones in general then be sure to check out our blog The Ultimate Guide to Plant Hardiness Zones.

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