Best Plants for Zone 3

By Muffy Marracco , last updated May 3, 2011

The best plants for USDA hardiness Zone 3 thrive in temperatures with a low ranging from -40 to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. Some cities in this zone are International Falls, Minnesota, St. Michael, Alaska, Tomahawk, Wisconsin and Sidney, Montana. Plant hardiness zones are designated by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Arboretum. The zones were assigned in 1990 based on data from accumulated weather records from 1972 to 1986. The hardiness zone is not the only determinant in a plant’s success; soil type, sunlight, rainfall, heat and humidity are also important considerations.

The sugar maple grows from Nova Scotia down to Texas. A red sugar maple leaf is depicted on the Canadian flag. It is a deciduous tree that can grow to heights of over 100 feet. It is a major source of maple syrup. It has a hard and dense wood that is often used in bowling alleys and bowling pins.

The Russian olive is very hardy. It has low water needs, and can tolerate alkaline and salty soils. It just needs sun. It has leaves with silvery scales that are egg-shaped. After three years, it will bear flowers and fruit. The blooms are yellow and highly fragrant. Wildlife are fond of the fruit.

The common juniper is a coniferous shrub or small tree with pungent blue seed cones that look like berries. They are used to make gin, amongst other culinary uses. The juniper is widespread throughout the northern hemisphere, including Iceland and Greenland. Generally, the juniper is too small to be used for lumber. In the Baltic Sea area, juniper wood is sometimes used to make small handcrafts like butter dishes and utensils.

Tartarian honeysuckle was introduced to North America in 1752. It is an upright shrub that can grow to heights of ten feet. It is commonly one of the first shrubs to have leaves in the spring. It has tubular flowers that are generally pink but can vary from white to red. It can be considered an invasive species because it can rapidly invade and overtake a location. It will form a dense thicketed layer that crowds out native plants.

The northern maidenhair fern is hardy and can grow in the shade under trees. It has lacy fronds with dark stems. It enjoys shady spots with moist soil that is slightly acidic. Its scientific name is Adiantum pedatum, which comes from the Greek word, adiantos, meaning “unwetted.” This refers to the fronds’ ability to shed water without appearing to get wet.

Goat’s beard, also known as wild spirea, is a shrub-like perennial that grows to heights of nearly six feet. It blooms for just a few weeks with small white flowers. But this happens in autumn, providing some visual interest in your garden long after other plants have faded. To grow, it requires moist soil and some shade.

Brunnera macrophylla is also known as Siberian bugloss. Bugloss comes from the Greek meaning “ox tongue.” This is a reference to the plant’s distinctive leaves which are heart-shaped, silvery white with green veins and hairy. Brunnera grows blooms with small light blue flowers with a yellow center. It likes sun to partial shade and fertile well-drained soil.

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