What Growing Zones Are in Texas?

The Lone Star State is the second largest state in the U.S., covering over 268,000 square miles. The huge variation of landscapes, elevations, and climates makes Texas one of the most diverse states for gardening.

From chilly zone 6 in the northern panhandle to subtropical zone 10 along the border of Mexico, Texas encompasses four major growing zones and eight half zones. The half zones (e.g., zones 7a and 7b) provide five degrees more specificity of the expected extreme annual low temperatures for a certain area. 

The USDA Plant Hardiness Growing Zone Map is a helpful tool for gardeners and farmers. It helps you determine what perennial plants can reliably overwinter outside in their region. Growing zones are determined based on average minimum extreme temperatures or the coldest winters on record for a given area. Knowing your hardiness zone can help you easily select flowers, shrubs, and trees for your landscape based on historical weather averages. 

Let’s dig into the growing zones in Texas, including the 2023 changes to the plant hardiness map.

What Growing Zones Are in Texas?

Close-up of a branch with ripening clusters of nuts among green foliage. The Texas pecan (Carya illinoinensis) is a majestic deciduous tree with large, pinnately compound leaves that consist of 9 to 17 glossy green leaflets arranged in an alternating pattern along a central stem. The Texas pecan produces long, yellow-green catkins that give way to clusters of smooth, oblong nuts encased in thick, ridged husks.
Texas spans USDA growing zones 6b to 10a, with diverse agricultural opportunities and varying climates.

Texas includes growing zones 6b to 10a. The panhandle and northern region cover zones 6 and 7, with chilly winters that can reach single digits. Central and east Texas are a mild zone 8, while south Texas and the Gulf Coast cover zones 9a and 9b. The very southern tip of Texas along the Mexican border is subtropical zone 10a. Since the 2023 updates to the USDA Plant Hardiness Map, much of Texas has transitioned into a warmer zone. 

Texas is a prime location for producing vegetables, nuts, fruits, and ornamental trees. The state tree, the Texas pecan (Carya illinoinensis), can be grown in every county of the Lone Star State. 

Beautiful southern magnolias and crape myrtles thrive in most of the state. Apples, plums, and blackberries grow well in North Texas. Peaches and citrus trees (particularly the famous Texas grapefruit) thrive in the southern valleys of the Lone Star state. Grapes and blueberries do well in the Hill Country, while rabbiteye blueberries thrive in the humid zones of east Texas. The Gulf Coast of Texas is perfect for growing live oak, pecans, sugarberry, persimmons, and mesquite. 

From cool-weather lettuce and kale to heat-loving okra and tomatoes, Texas gardeners can grow almost every vegetable at some point in the season. North Texas growers can practice standard spring, summer, and fall planting successions, but central and southern Texas gardeners must adjust their planting schedule to avoid the extreme heat of midsummer.

Zone 6

Close-up of blooming Hibiscus moscheutos in a sunny garden. It boasts a large, showy flower characterized by five overlapping petals in shades of white with a contrasting hot pink eye at the center. This vibrant bloom sits atop a tall, sturdy stem adorned with lobed, deep green leaves, creating a lush and tropical appearance. The plant's overall growth habit is upright and bushy. A small bee pollinates a flower.
Northwest Texas, zones 6a and 6b, boasts a diverse landscape requiring hardy, wind-resistant plants.

The coldest parts of Texas reside on the border of Oklahoma and New Mexico. The Texas Panhandle and northwestern region covers zone 6a and 6b, with its coldest extreme temperatures dipping to -5°F (-21°C). Fortunately, zone 6 still has a moderately long growing season, with frost-free days from May 1 to November 1. 

This part of Texas is predominantly known for cattle and grain production, but it also supports a great diversity of trees. Cold hardiness, drought resilience, and wind tolerance are essential for this zone. The panhandle is known for intense winds (and sometimes blizzards and tornadoes), which is why it’s a hub for wind turbines. Over 20% of Texas electricity is produced by wind energy in this region, but that means your plants must be able to handle the gusts. 

When designing your northwest Texas landscape, it’s vital to plant fast-growing perennials that can anchor their roots deep in the soil. Mulch, ground cover plants, and low-growing perennials are essential to protect bare soil from wind erosion and harsh winter frosts.

A huge range of winter hardy trees and perennials can be grown in your zone 6 landscape, including:

Best Trees and Shrubs for Texas Zone 6

  • Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia)
  • Texas Red Oak (Quercus texana)
  • Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
  • Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis)
  • Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
  • Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)
  • Mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin)
  • Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus)
  • Juniper Trees (Juniperus spp.)

Best Perennials for Texas Zone 6

  • Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos)
  • Lamb’s Ear (Stachys bysantina)
  • Lenten Rose (Helleborus x hybridus)
  • Phlox (Phlox spp.)
  • Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)

Zone 7

Close-up of a flowering Texas Red Yucca plant (Hesperaloe parviflora) against a blurred background. It is a striking succulent plant that forms clumps of narrow, sword-shaped leaves that are tough, leathery, and evergreen. The foliage is blue-green with serrated edges and a fine texture. In summer, tall stalks rise above the foliage, bearing clusters of tubular, bell-shaped flowers that open in shades of coral.
Texas zone 7, covering west and southern areas, faces extreme winter temperatures and various challenges.

The Lone Star State’s zone 7 is relatively small, including most of west Texas along the New Mexican border and southern portions of the panhandle. Palo Duro Canyon resides mostly in zone 7.

This area experiences extreme winter temperatures from 0 to 5°F (-18 to -15°C) in zone 7a or 5-10°F (-15 to -12°C) in zone 7b. The planting challenges in this zone are similar to zone 6: lots of wind, some drought, and the potential for crazy winter storms. 

There are plenty of frost-free days for annual gardening and an even greater diversity of trees and perennials to choose from:

Best Trees and Shrubs for Texas Zone 7

  • Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
  • Juniper (Juniperus spp.)
  • Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)
  • Northern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)

Best Perennials for Texas Zone 7

  • Texas Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)
  • Chaves Yucca (Yucca torreyi ‘Chaves’)
  • Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)
  • Mexican Feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima)
  • Oxblood Lily (Rhodophalia bifida)

Zone 8

Bluebonnet wildflowers in the Texas Hill Country. Lupinus texensis, commonly known as the Texas Bluebonnet, displays characteristic palmately compound leaves consisting of five leaflets, each resembling a small, elongated finger. These leaves are green and hairy, providing a backdrop to the plant's iconic flowers. The Bluebonnet's flowers grow on erect spikes and are renowned for their striking blue color, with a white or creamy spot on the upper petal, creating a distinct lupine-shaped bloom.
Texas zone 8, with hot summers and mild winters, supports diverse crops and bluebonnet reseeding.

The largest portion of Texas’s land mass lies in zone 8. Zone 8a with annual extreme lows of 10-15°F (-12 to -9°C) encompasses most of west Texas. Zone 8b, with extreme lows of15-20°F (-9 to -6°C) covers northeast and central Texas, from Dallas-Fort Worth to Austin, and the famous Texas Hill Country. 

This area has hot, dry summers and mild winters, with fairly dry weather and a long growing season for many successions of annual crops. It’s important to plan for long summer droughts in zone 8. Beware that the occasional harsh winter storm can wipe out semi-tropical plants and cacti in these zones.

The famous Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) has no problem reseeding itself in zone 8 and warmer. This annual member of the lupine family germinates in the fall, grows throughout winter, and begins blooming around March through May. The seedpods form in midsummer and fall to the ground to repeat the cycle next year.

Here are some gorgeous trees and perennials that are drought-resilient and hardy in zone 8:

Best Trees and Shrubs for Texas Zone 8

  • Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
  • Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
  • Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)
  • Chinquapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii)
  • ‘Burgundy’ Plum (Prunus salicina ‘Burgundy’)
  • ‘Violette de Bordeaux’ Fig (Ficus carica ‘Violette de Bordeaux’)
  • Persimmon (Diospyros kaki ‘Fuyu’)

Best Perennials for Texas Zone 8

  • Salvia (Salvia spp.)
  • Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex)
  • Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia)
  • Lavender (Lavandula x intermedia)

Zone 9

Close-up Grapefruit tree (Citrus × paradisi) is a medium-sized evergreen tree with a rounded canopy and glossy, dark green leaves that emit a citrus fragrance when crushed. The tree produces large, spherical or slightly flattened fruit with smooth, thin rinds that range in color from yellow to yellow-orange.
Texas zones 9a and 9b, including Houston and San Antonio, feature mild winters and intense summers.

Zones 9a and 9b cover Houston, San Antonio, the Gulf Coast of Texas, and down to the deepest southern regions along the Mexican border. This area occasionally freezes and is home to the famous grapefruit industry, the state fruit of Texas. Zone 9a has extreme annual lows between 20 and 25°F (-6 to -4°C), while zone 9b stays above 25 to 30°F (-4 to -1°). 

Freezes can still occur in this area, which has been problematic for the citrus industry in the Rio Grande Valley. For example, the historical winter storms of 2021 killed grapefruit and orange trees across south Texas with prolonged freezing weather. However, the extremes of winter should not distract from the intense summers in this zone! 

Zone 9 growers still have practically endless planting possibilities of both temperate and subtropical plants. The key is to choose species that can handle super hot summers. Several months of scorching triple-digit temperatures are now very common in central and south Texas. San Antonio experienced a record-breaking 75 days of triple-digit temperatures in 2023. You must choose heat-tolerant plants that can withstand drought and intense sunshine for much of the year.

Best Trees and Shrubs for Texas Zone 9

  • Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera)
  • Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
  • Orange (Citrus sinensis)
  • Mexican Sycamore (Platanus mexicana)
  • Monterrey Oak (Quercus polymorpha)
  • Pomegranate (Punica granatum)
  • Texas Ash (Fraxinus texensis)
  • Texas Mountain Laurel (Dermatophyllum secundiflorum)

Best Perennials for Texas Zone 9

  • Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens)
  • Firebush (Hamelia patens)
  • Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata)
  • Mexican Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia)
  • Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum)
  • Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus (Pachystachys lutea)
  • Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)

Zone 10

Close-up of a tree with ripening fruits in the garden. Persea americana, commonly known as the avocado tree, is a dense evergreen tree with a symmetrical crown and glossy, dark green leaves that are elliptical or lance-shaped, arranged alternately along the branches. The fruit of the avocado tree is the iconic avocado, a large berry with a rough, dark green to blackish-purple skin that ripens to a rich, buttery-textured flesh inside.
Texas zone 10a, including Brownsville, supports a variety of desert and tropical plants.

Tropical zone 10a covers only the southern tip of Texas. Brownsville is the main city in this region. Gardeners here can grow a massive range of desert and tropical plants as long as you take into account access to water during extremely hot, dry summers. 

The lower Rio Grande Valley is perfect for fruit and nut trees like citrus, nectarines, peaches, almonds, walnuts, pecans, and cherries. You can even grow avocados outdoors here! Many of the plants grown south of the border can be planted in south Texas gardens.

Best Trees and Shrubs for Texas Zone 10

  • Mexican Olive (Cordia boissieri)
  • Avocado (Persea americana)
  • Texas Ebony (Ebonopsis ebano)
  • Sugarberry (Celtis laevigata)
  • Brazilian Bluewood (Condalia hookeri)
  • Sweet Acacia (Vachellia farnesiana)

Best Perennials for Texas Zone 10

  • Rangoon Creeper (Quisqualis indica)
  • Agave (Agave spp.)
  • Yucca (Yucca spp.)
  • Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)
  • Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum)
  • Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella)
  • Prairie Verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida)

Final Thoughts

The Lone Star State is home to a diverse range of growing zones, from the chilly northern zone 6 to the zone 10 tropical southern tip. The iconic pecan tree and Texas bluebonnet can be grown in nearly every part of Texas! Most of Texas resides in zone 8, including Dallas and Austin, and zone 9, which covers San Antonio and Houston. These areas have hot, dry summers and mild winters, so be sure to choose plants that can handle triple-digit heat! 

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