If you live in Zone 7, choosing the best plants for your planting zone will help you ensure that you sow specimens that will survive the winter. Planting zone maps typically divide the United States into 11 zones. Each state can have several zones within it, depending on the elevation and topography of the state. Zone 7 sweeps in a band through the bottom of the United States and up through the middle of the coastal states. Zone 7 ranges from 0 to 10 degrees F in the winter; plants approved for planting in this zone can survive these low temperatures. The plants listed in this article are approved for Zones 6 through 8, making them safe choices for Zone 7. Choosing a plant that is just barely approved for your zone can mean you're required to provide a significant amount of protection in the winter. By choosing a safer plant, you can spare yourself a little work and heartache.
If you live in Zone 7, you have many varieties of flowering plants to choose from. Flowering shrubs such as wisteria, hydrangea, butterfly bush and rhododendron all thrive in Zone 7. Bulb-based plants such as crocus, gladiolus and iris will also grow well in Zone 7, as the cool temperatures encourage the plants to stop growing and enter winter dormancy. Frilly pansies and peonies also do well in Zone 7.
If you'd rather use your Zone 7 garden to feed your family, you're in luck. Vegetables such as corn and eggplant will develop well in your garden. Tree fruits such as cherry, apple and pear will also succeed, although you may need to protect your trees from late-spring freezes so the developing fruit won't freeze on the branches. Blackberry bushes will also thrive in Zone 7, although they can quickly take over your yard and should be pruned with care. More conservative gardeners can choose to grow grapes in their yards; there are many varieties available, and most are approved for Zone 7.
The bigleaf maple will grow to great heights in Zone 7, and provide dramatic fall color. The holly bush will also thrive, and provide beautiful winter color. Herbs such as chives, rosemary and sage can be used in cooking, but can also be planted to add color and texture to your yard.
According to the National Gardening Association, the USDA Zone Map works quite well for the garden climates of the east coast of the United States, as the topography is quite flat. Western states are quite hilly, and can be affected by humidity levels coming from the ocean. This can make the readings less useful. Additionally, the map doesn't take into account how the soil drains during the winter or how snow cover can protect plants from freezing and thawing repeatedly. Therefore, don't rely entirely on the zone designation on your plant and neglect to provide winter protection through mulching and pruning. Staying diligent is the best way to ensure that your plants awaken again in the spring.