What zone am I in???

maridyDecember 14, 2006

Hi, my husband and I just bought a home in the Reno area (Sun Valley). We are looking forward to doing some gardening, but are extremely inexperienced. I don't even know what zone I am in. The "zone finder" says that most of Reno is in Zone 7, but it put Sun Valley in Zone 5. What's the deal?

What zone am I in? I'm getting a complex, someone please help!


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ljrmiller(z7 NV)

The zone finder is right on the money. Welcome to the STRANGEST climate on the planet! There can be variations of 2 climate zones within ONE zip code. Honest.

Sun Valley is pretty much Zone 5 due to exposure and elevation, but there is also a very short warm growing season in this area regardless of zone designation. Wind is a huge problem: start working on windbreaks (trees/shrubs/fences) as soon as you can. Alkaline soil makes things difficult: You may want to consider mostly using raised beds. Rocks are everywhere.

One way to stay safe is to purchase your tender annuals and vegetables (e.g. tomatoes) at the Master Gardener plant sale, usually held the Saturday prior to Memorial Day Weekend. By then, it's safe to plant tomatoes, and the MG plant sale sells their plants for as little as $1.00 a plant.

As far as the other stuff (perennials, shrubs), I recommend Dry Creek Garden Company, but do point out that you live in the Zone 5 part of the area, because some of their plants are Zone 6 or Zone 7 hardy because of the local climate variation.

Now that I've given you all the minuses, don't be scared away! I've been gardening here (admittedly in the Zone 7 part) for about 30 years, in spite of what the climate and the soil throw at us, and with a little care and imagination you can grow almost anything here. Honest.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2006 at 6:58PM
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Thanks, Lisa

That gives me some things to think about. We are excited about the potential for this coming year.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2006 at 7:22PM
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Okay, sorry to butt in, but I live out in Stead. Exactly what zone would that be in, because most everything says 7, but I'm not sure? Also, how do we find out about the Master Gardener plant sale?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 6:42PM
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ljrmiller(z7 NV)

Stead is also in Zone 5, or at least most of it is. The reason is the exposure to the wind and cold, plus the higher altitude. Pretty much the cutoff for Zone 6 is around the North end of UNR as far as altitude goes.

This is where I usually check for the dates of the MG plant sale--it's usually the weekend BEFORE Labor Day weekend, on Saturday:


also check here--it's not listed yet, but it will be:


Also, the Rancho San Rafael Arboretum has a plant sale, usually the weekend AFTER Labor Day weekend, also on Saturday. Info at:


Click on the Arboretum link, then the Special Events link.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 1:35PM
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Thank you so much for the information. Most of the web pages I went to said I was zone 7, and I just had a really hard time believing that since we do get more snow and wind than south of us. Also, thanks for the plant sale info. I have tried to find any plant sales in Northern Nevada and came up empty so this is very exciting to me. I have never been to one, and am looking forward to going.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 2:28AM
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I live in Washoe Valley on the east side of washoe lake at about 5100 ft. When I put in my zip code, zone finder said that I am in zone 5b. Is this correct and what is the "b" part? I don't think I have ever seen plants or seeds that specify a zone 5b. Thanks lots

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 10:16PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

Reno says zone 7, but its barely zone 7, and really only downtown is zone 7. Any place further from downtown than the airport is zone 6.

In truth, the only reason Reno is zone 7 is because of the urban heat island.

For the poster wondering about "5b", the "b" refers to the warmer half of the zone... in other words, your average winter minimum is -10F to -15F.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 8:46PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

For Reno I would suggest looking at the Sunset Western Garden Book. Examine it at the library first as one may not find enough there to make it worth the cover price. Lowe's had one recently, you could take it back to the garden furniture section and examine it there without having to put out the purchase price.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 3:45PM
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Hello there, we are moving to the rancho haven area, what zone would that be and is there a local growing guide? I love to garden and will need help with the new climate.
Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 12:47AM
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