Plants for Every Type of American Climate
Having silver bells and cockleshells isn’t just relegated to the contrary Mary and her garden, with homeowners jumping at the chance to transform their properties into green havens. Before you rush out to the nearest nursery and load up on plants, read this article first to find out what’ll work best for you—and what to avoid at all costs.

Warm and Dry Climates

In places like Nevada and Arizona, where the average temperature ranges between 55F to 105F (highs) and 40F to 75F (lows), a hot and dry climate welcomes certain families of plants. The types of plants you’ll be looking for include ones that don’t need a lot of water to thrive, but do need a minimum outdoor temperature during the coldest months to keep from dying.Some of the more obvious examples include palm trees or cacti, but why limit yourself there? Add splashes of color and texture with a Chinese Weeping Elm, Dwarf Sacred Bamboo, Cordyline, Poppies, or Citrus trees.

Warm and Damp Climates

The main difference between this category and the previous is the amount of rainfall: while plants in both need a great deal of sun and warmth, this category features plants that can thrive in damper conditions and/or require a steadier supply of water.

This climate can be found in places like Louisiana, Florida, Hawaii and other places where it’s hot and humid. And the plants that do best include Echinacea, Gaillardia, ferns, Butterfly Bush, various grasses, hibiscus, lavender, phlox, and others.

Temperate and Dry Climates

In parts of the United States where the climate has four definite seasons but isn’t near a body of water, like the Midwest, it’s important to look for plants that can “hibernate” during the cooler winter months.

As well, the relative lack of water means that you’ll need to look for plants that specifically fall into that category, otherwise:

  • Plants that require a lot of water will quickly shrivel up and die
  • Plants that require less water but are planted in damp areas will die from the surplus of water

    Keeping this in mind, grasses are always an excellent choice and come in such a variety, you can easily create art from it. Fruit trees are also a good bet, such as mango, papaya or fig trees. For miscellaneous plants, check out blue sage, Spiderwort, Butterfly Weed, Goldenrod, or coneflowers.

    Temperate and Damp Climates

    If you live on the coast, around the Great Lakes, or anywhere else where a body of water significantly affects climate, we’ve finally come to the plants that will do best for you. These climates can have four distinct seasons like New England, or a more moderate year, like parts a bit more south. But what they all have in common is humidity.

    The three main things to focus on are:

  • Minimum and maximum temperatures, as those two extremes will dictate if plants can last the winter or not
  • Plants that require a goodly amount of water (we’ll get to how to recognize by sight what those plants are)
  • How much sun you have in your yard

    An easy way to figure out roughly how much water plants need is to look at their leaves: do they look thick, glossy or plasticky? Or are they thinner, finer and have a bit of a matte finish? The former indicates plants that retain water for the long haul, while the latter takes in water more readily.

    The amount of sun—and type—you get plays a role, too. If you face north or east, look for plants that require a lot less sun because the heat from the sun isn’t at its peak. Conversely, if you face south or west, you’ll need plants that say they require medium to full sun.

    And while the list of plants that can be grown here are too numerous to count, deciduous trees, grasses, daisies, (some) ferns, roses, pansies and Irises are just a few that can do well.

    Stay tuned for Monday’s article where we’ll take a look at how to plant your new purchases so they look good now and when mature.
    Amy Wright
    Amy Wright is the Lead Editor of Remodeling Central. When she isn't playing with her dogs she is trying to remodel a classic Chicago style brownstone with her husband.