The U.S. Department of Agriculture helps horticulturists with a list and map of hardiness zones to use as planting guides for gardeners and even farmers who have plantings outdoors. Some plants can exist in multiple hardiness zones while others are more unique and indigenous to only one type of climate. A hardiness zone is based upon average annual minimum temperatures.
This article will explore what plants to have in the coldest zone, USDA Hardiness Zone 1. This zone is for temperatures that can get to -50 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and exists on the interior of Alaska and parts of Canada’s Northwest Territories.
Plants that Survive
Suffice it to say, Hardiness Zone 1 is the most inhospitable place on the Earth for plants to grow. Yet, during the summer months there are short spurts of plants that crop up in Alaska. If you don’t have a green house or temperature controlled area you will need plants that can survive a harsh winter and come out every year in the short summer.
You will want not only plants that are native to Alaska to thrive in your garden, but trees that are capable of surviving a lot of snow and do well in dormancy. Believe it or not, the interior of Alaska does harbor many plants that are well adapted to the cold climate.
Plants for Your Garden
Zone 1 has many woody plants from which to choose. I say woody plants because fleshy plants probably won’t do well with the water in their stems that will freeze up too quickly. The dwarf birch, or resin birch, flowers in the late spring and has a waxy look to it. The leaves and small buds will spread out over time and give you a good plant about ten feet tall.
The Lapland rhododendron is a beautiful purple flowering shrub that is also a perennial. The nickel-sized flowers form a carpet that is often only two inches high but has gorgeous results. The purple will be a nice change from the yellow or orange of the dwarf birch plant. As with all rhododendrons, the Lapland variety has a wonderful scent to go with it.
How to Maintain Your Garden
In Alaska’s Zone 1, it is important to pick perennial plants that will come back every year. A garden is easy to maintain as these plants will already be used to the Alaskan arctic temperatures. Any plant you put there will need sun throughout the day, so if you have a fenced-in garden make sure sunlight can trickle through. Water requirements are only through the warm months as dormancy is the key in winter otherwise your plants will not do well.