Sacramento Hardiness Zones

State Capitol Park World Peace Rose Garden in Sacramento.
State Capitol Park World Peace Rose Garden.

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Sacramento is home to fairly temperate weather that makes it ideal for planting a wide variety of greens and blooms. However, sometimes the cold winters or abnormally hot summers can make growth tricky, which is why the area is considered to be hardiness zone 9 on agricultural maps.

USDA Hardiness Map

The USDA Hardiness Map is a digital map of the United States, shaded in various colors to represent the specific climate zones of that region. The map is updated only after decades of weather changes have been recorded, and each area is then assigned a zone. Since the map's revision in 2012, Sacramento has been considered zone 9b. This update is the first shift in generations, as the city was initially considered zone 9. This shift means that temperature lows are higher than usual, by approximately 10 degrees. Zipcodes in zone 9b can now plant avocado trees along with other plant varieties that require a slightly warmer temperature than what Sacramento provided in the past.

What Is Zone 9?

Zone 9 (and 9b) consists of 10 states, including California. For zone 9b, a plant must be able to withstand temperatures as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. If a plant requires a higher nighttime or winter temperature, then it will not thrive in Sacramento.

Zone 9b classification pertains only to winter. Summer months make no difference on the Hardiness Map, but it’s still important to understand a particular plant’s level of heat tolerance. Plants that grow best in zone 9 and 9b are those that enjoy a long growing season and thrive during mild winters. Plants accustomed to cold climates cease to thrive around Sacramento.

Zone 9 is also a thermal belt, making it a safer climate for citrus and hibiscus, along with many other plants. Anyone living in Sacramento knows (what zone 9 confirms) that the region enjoys long warm summers with daily sunshine and long growing seasons. Winter is just cold enough for the dormancy requirements of many trees, and tule fog encircles the ground at night and rises by midday.

The Other Zone

While the USDA lists Sacramento as zone 9b, not everyone agrees. Sunset Magazine, another reputable authority on the matter, lists parts of the Sacramento Valley in zone 9 while others are placed into zone 14. The magazine argues that those zip codes closer to water will incur some marine air influences. This includes regions just below Rio Linda, Woodland, and Vallejo.

The Sunset map is held in high regard because unlike the USDA map, it goes beyond the simple matter of which plants will survive a California winter. It includes growing season timetables, rainfall measurements, wind, humidity, and takes summer highs into consideration before assigning a zone.

Plants That Grow Well in Sacramento

Sacramento is a wonderfully temperate climate for plant life. Citrus trees thrive, along with many blooming bushes and flower beds. There are more than 3,800 species to choose from, but some favorites of Sacramento gardeners include:

When interested in a specific plant, ask your local gardening supply store or check the seed packaging specifications to see if it is applicable to Zone 9, 9b, or 14.