As the coldest two zones, any plant that thrives in zone 1 must be able to endure temperatures as low as -60°F and between -40 to -50°F in zone 2. These harsh weather conditions call for plants to be incredibly tough and efficient in order to survive. They also need to be drought tolerant, since the climate in these regions receive very little rain and snow. Like a cold desert, high winds carry dust and debris that can batter any plant that happens to be in the way.
Because of these harsh weather conditions for plants, gardeners only have about 2-4 months to plant in their gardens. The frost dates for zone 1 are around May 22nd to August 25th, and for zone 2 average from May 15th to about September 8th.
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.
Since the growing season can be so short, many local gardeners recommend starting seeds indoors for any vegetables or annual flowers. A benefit to the summer growing season is the longer daylight hours which can produce bigger blooms and larger vegetables. Alaska, for example, is known to get 20 hours of daylight in the summers and the plants absolutely love it.
The first thing to keep in mind about zone 1 and 2 planting is what kinds of plants are native to these regions. Those plants are a safe bet when planning your garden or landscaping, but if you don’t mind working with annuals year after year then you can expand your choices dramatically with them. Many annuals will be hardy enough to survive the summer but will die back at the end of the growing season.
If you’d like to try your hand at some perennials in zone 1 or 2, we find that joining a local garden club or even a local gardening Facebook page can be very helpful. They’ll have the most experience with these challenging conditions!
When it comes to zone 2 planting, consider some of the options listed below!
- The Fine Line® Buckthorn is hardy, tall, and fairly slender shrub that resists deer. It’ll grow well in the landscape, in beds, or even in a patio container, though we recommend that zones 2 and 3 shy away from putting this shrub in a container for temperature reasons.
- Rise Up Lilac Rose is a new 2023 offering that features gorgeous soft-pink blooms atop dark brown stems and bright green foliage. It has a wonderful and sweet scent, resists deer, and has a unique climbing habit that offers great versatility in planting.
- The Scentara® Double Blue Lilac is a fragrant and hardy shrub that produces a light purple bloom which will slowly fade into more blue tone as time goes on. Like the other plants mentioned here, it’s deer-resistant which can be a very helpful trait in zones that occur further north.
For a complete list of plants that are suitable for zone 2, 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.