Toronto Gardening Zone: Knowing What to Plant

If you’re a Toronto resident that claims to lack a green thumb, it could be less about you and more about which plants you’re trying to grow. Not every plant species is cut out for the hot summers and cold, cold winters of Toronto. Knowing the Toronto gardening zone (and what that number means) will help you select plants that are built to thrive in the harsh, and often surprising weather conditions of the metro-Toronto area.

Of course, the Toronto Hardy Zone isn’t the only factor in raising a healthy, thriving garden—there are many elements to creating the proper growing environment. But, it can help both first-time and experienced gardeners select species of vegetables, flowers, trees, and shrubs that are most likely to flourish in Toronto’s climate, will bloom the following year (perennials), and require a lower level of maintenance and care.

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Toronto Landmark Garden

What Gardening Zone is Toronto?

The Toronto Gardening Zone, also known as the Toronto Hardiness Zone, falls into Zone 6.
The metro-Toronto area can further be split into Zones 6a or 6b, depending on which side of the city you live. However, trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetables, or other flora that are rated for Zone 6 are typically good fits for your home garden (given that other conditions like soil and sun/shade are favorable as well).
Plants that are rated for Zones 5, 4, and 3 are even hardier are also great fits for your Toronto garden.

Plants that are rated for Zones 7 or 8 aren’t necessarily impossible, but they are usually harder to keep, require more attention, and can succumb to a surprise change in weather patterns. And if you do manage to get a beautiful summer out of them, they won’t survive the cold, snowy winters of Toronto. These flowers are considered annuals. If your heart is set on a beautiful breed that falls into a higher category, though, you can still try it out. Just be mindful of its unique needs and be prepared to bring it indoors when weather conditions change pace.

Toronto gardening zones

How is the Toronto Zone for Gardening Determined?

Canada determines an area’s gardening zone based on a compilation of eight factors and the documented survival rates of various species under these average conditions. It is a complex process that helps everyone, from farmers and nurseries to people just trying to get something to grow in their home garden. The gardening zone only applies to floras that are planted in the ground. Potted plants are not insulated against weather conditions and usually need different care.

The eight factors that determine the Toronto Zone for Gardening are:
When the Canadian gardening zones originated in 1967, the gardening zones didn’t take into account the impact of elevation and were based on only the first seven factors. It was in the most recent update that Natural Resources Canada included elevation into the formula. It also recalculated averages to account for new “normals” and shifting weather patterns due to climate change and took advantage of sophisticated analytic and mapping technologies that weren’t available in earlier versions of the Hardiness Zone Map.

The most current Toronto gardening zone is now based on data from the eight categories above collected from the years 1981 to 2010. This compilation of information puts Toronto into its most accurate planting zone—Zone 6. When choosing your plants or plant seeds, try to stick with foliage that falls in the Zone 6 category or below—Zones 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1.

Remember, you can still get away with higher-zoned plants if other conditions (soil, air, etc.) are right and you’re prepared to bring them indoors for the winter or simply replant next year. If you’re still unsure, simply ask the experts at your local nursery. They’ll help you decide what plants might be best for you.
Garden Zone

Difference Between Canadian and U.S. Gardening Zones

You may have heard that Toronto lands in Zone 5 (and some people may even argue with you over the zoning). However, this information is based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Zoning Formula, which is much simpler than the Canadian Hardiness Formula. The USDA only considers the average minimum temperatures of an area in a given year and doesn’t include other factors that are critical to a plant’s survival. When shopping seeds from our southern neighbor or reading international articles, you’ll probably find that Toronto is considered a Zone 5.

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Toronto zone for gardening

Other Factors to Growing Hardy, Healthy Plants

Planting floras that are native to the Toronto area, or can withstand the various weather patterns can help to ensure that you have a beautiful, easy to care for garden. Still, however low-maintenance your new Zone 6 Hardy plants may be, it does require proper care.
When starting your landscape, consider these essential factors:

Watering is a massive factor in the health of your plants (and something a lot of people do wrong). Too thirsty, and your plants will wilt away. Too much water, and they’ll drown. Watering during the day can cause sunburn, and watering at night can promote fungal growth and disease.

Watering is a massive factor in the health of your plants (and something a lot of people do wrong). Too thirsty, and your plants will wilt away. Too much water, and they’ll drown.

Investing in a professionally-installed drip irrigation system can eliminate the mathematics of watering your plants (at least on your part) and guarantee your landscape gets precisely what it needs. A well-designed drip irrigation system will automatically saturate your plants’ roots with the exact amount of water required at the prime time of the day. It can even account for rainfall and be zoned out to provide a watering schedule specific to the needs of each area of your garden.

If you’re ready to get serious about gardening, our irrigation experts at GTA Irrigation & Lighting know the unique needs of local gardens and have helped countless customers achieve a thriving green garden.

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Mike Moran

Hello! I'm one of the co-owner's of GTA Irrigation & Lighting. I write about topics that will help you get the most of of your outdoor living spaces. You can get all of my new articles sent direct to your inbox, just subscribe below.

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