Best Native Plants for Zones 1-4

Simply put, ‘native’ is similar to ‘local.’ Native plants are those plants that thrive well in a particular region and habitat. The reason they need specific climatic conditions is that they’ve been growing in similar habitats for the past thousands of years. Here is our list of some of the best native plants for zones 1-4:

What Are Hardiness Zones?

A region’s climate is vital to determine how well certain plants will thrive. While some plants will produce abundant fruit in an area, others may not be able to live longer than a few days. Why is that?

Well, plants differ depending on their specific growing requirements. Some plants grow well in cool, dry climate, while others need a humid and hot one. USDA hardiness zones help gardeners to pick the right plants according to their region.

Hardiness zones or ‘gardening zones’ refer to geographical regions with consistent annual temperatures and climatic conditions, while each of the ’13’ hardiness zones allows specific plants to thrive and experience healthy growth.

These areas represent average minimum temperatures in 10-degree increments. Here are the lowest annual temperatures of hardiness zones 1 to 4.

  • Zone 1: -60 F to -50 F
  • Zone 2: -50 F to -40 F
  • Zone 3: -40 F to -30 F
  • Zone 4: -30 F to -20 F

Best Native Plants for Zone 1

Best Native Plants | Barefoot Garden Design


Hardiness zone 1 is excellent for annual plants, perennials, and herbs. Zone 1 plants are easy to care for, generally suitable for beginner gardeners. For example, you can’t overwater cotton grass as it thrives well in plenty of water.         

Most zone 1 native plants make lovely additions to flowerbeds and herb gardens, yet these produce refreshing foliage and colorful, beautiful flowers. However, decorative plants like USDA zone 1 native plants may be prone to pests, therefore your region’s microclimates is paramount before planting new native plants to your garden. Availability of shade and light, and various landscapes largely determine whether a plant will work for your garden.

Here are a few examples of the best native plants for zone 1:

  • Yarrow: virtually care-free herb
  • Cotton Grass: woolly wild plant, suitable for growing around water
  • Arrowhead: climbing vine, low-maintenance
  • Cordgrass: perennial, produces white flowers
  • Blazing Star: hardy perennial, tall and delicate
  • Delphinium: tall perennial

Best Native Plants for Zone 2

best native plants for zone 2 | Barefoot Garden Design


Hardiness zone 2 plants typically involve those that require maintenance every few days.

After all, gardening in this zone comes with the struggle of dealing with frigid climates and whopping low temperatures. However, most USDA zone 2 native plants are tough and thrive well in cold temperatures. Nevertheless, they look lovely in home and office gardens.

Here are a few examples of the best native plants for zone 2:

  • Pitcher Plant: carnivorous, suitable for indoor planting
  • White Snakeroot: shade-loving perennial
  • American Cranberry Bush: fruit-producing, showy
  • Iceland Poppy: easy-to-care, pollinator-friendly
  • Bog Rosemary: creeping evergreen, low-maintenance
  • Serviceberry: small and decorative tree

Best Native Plants for Zone 3

Best Native Plants for Zone 3 | Barefoot Garden Design


USDA hardiness zone 3 is one of the smallest and coldest growing zones. The frost-free growing season in zone 3 typically lasts around 3 months, from June till early September.

Perennials and bulbs are among the best native plant options for gardening zone 3. However, gardeners living across zone 3 should also consider the microclimates in their specific region and garden before planting a new plant.

Here are a few examples of the best perennial plants for zone 3:

  • Bergenia: perennial plant, thrives well in shady areas
  • Lady fern: upright perennial fern
  • Siberian Bugloss: herbaceous perennial, showy plant
  • Hosta: hardy perennial, suitable for beginners
  • Hydrangea: produces abundant flowers
  • Peacock Orchid: tall spring bulbs, delicate petals

Best Native Plants for Zones 1-4: (ZONE 4)

Best Native Plants for Zones 1-4 | Barefoot Garden Design


USDA hardiness zone 4 primarily entails the upper Midwest states, including Idaho, Wyoming, and Dakotas, while typically, around 22 US states fall under the zone 4 regions. If you live in a zone 4 region, you know the temperatures in this zone fall between -30 to -20 Fahrenheit, with hot summers and extreme winters.

Zone 4 regions have the shortest frost-free growing period among the 48 zones in lower US. It begins in early June and continues till September, much like zone 3. Your region may also have microclimates that you should consider before purchasing new plants for your garden.

Native plants suitable for Zone 4 include:

  • Hibiscus: tropical flowering plant, short-lived
  • Hyacinths: bulbous spring perennial
  • Daffodils: flowering perennial, low-maintenance
  • Coneflowers: tough upright perennial, showy
  • Delphinium: tall perennial
  • Yarrow: virtually care-free herb

Best Native Plants for Zones 1-4: Bottom Line

Native plants are critical for local habitats, and ecosystem maintenance. These plants physically, chemically, and genetically evolve and adapt to the local environment all at once. Native plants thrive and live longer when planted in their respective gardening zones as they’re suited for these specific climate conditions. These native plants mentioned above are hardy for zones 1-4 which would be lovely options to add to your garden.