Michigan Planting Zones

Michigan, known as the Great Lakes State, spans three different growing zones (4, 5, and 6) with the average minimum temperature ranging between -30° and 0° F (-34.4° and -17.8° C) across the region.

In this article, you will learn:

 

The state has four great lakes, over 11,000 small lakes, flatlands, and rolling hills. While the region is beautiful, short growing seasons and long, cold winters make this a challenging area for gardeners

Image from USDA

Characteristics of Michigan Planting Region

The state of Michigan has a continental climate; however, the area can be divided into two distinct climate regions. 

  • Southern and Central
    This part of the state experiences a much warmer climate with hot summers and cold winters.
  • Northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula
    This area commonly has short, warm summers and extremely harsh and long winters. 

Most of the state is also prone to severe weather such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, wind storms, blizzards, floods, and heavy snowfall.

The growing season in this region is very brief, and frost dates will vary dramatically across the state. The typical frost-free period can begin anywhere between mid-April and the end of May and finish between September and the beginning of November. 


Michigan in Autumn

Challenges of Growing in Michigan

1. Shorter Growing Season

Michiganders can expect a very limited planting season, with only a few frost-free months annually. Many warmer season crops will struggle to mature within this short timeframe, so it’s crucial for gardeners to plan ahead and potentially start their seeds indoors.

2. Severe Weather

The extreme weather conditions across the region make gardening difficult throughout the year. In many cases, it’s wise to utilize a protective covering to avoid the disappointment of your plants being damaged by thunderstorms, wind, tornadoes, and more.

3. Long, Cold Winters

Extremely harsh and long winters pose difficulties for gardeners who wish to extend their growing season outdoors. While a combination of indoor and outdoor growing could be beneficial, the abundant snowfall may hinder any efforts to grow into the winter months.


Winter in Michigan

The Benefits of Using a Greenhouse in Michigan

Short growing seasons, extreme weather, and harsh winters make Michigan the perfect candidate for greenhouse planting. A greenhouse will protect your hard work from the temperamental weather and dramatically extend your growing timeframes, allowing you to plant a much wider variety of vegetables.

Extend your Growing Season

  • Without a Greenhouse:
    The average outdoor growing timeframe in Michigan ranges between 3-4 months annually. The season is relatively short, meaning many plants will require an element of indoor growing in order to mature in time before the first frost of the year.
  • With a Greenhouse:
    Greenhouse gardeners can expect an extended growing season of between 6-8 months, depending on which part of the state you’re located. While this is already doubling the standard growing season, those utilizing a greenhouse heater can potentially continue gardening throughout the entire year.


Learn more about specific growing dates for your area and the best vegetables to plant in each part of Michigan.

     

Customer images of the Sungrow Greenhouse in Vanderbilt, Michigan.

Vegetables you can Grow in Michigan

  • Without a Greenhouse: 
  • The short planting season and frigid winters mean many gardeners are limited to short-season and cold-hardy vegetables that can either mature quickly or survive the first frost of the year. Some of the vegetables known to survive the short planting timeframes include:

    • Peas
    • Broccoli
    • Lettuce
    • Radishes
    • Cabbage
    • Kale
    • Collard Greens
    • Turnips

     

  • With a Greenhouse:
    Greenhouse growing allows gardeners to plant a much wider variety of vegetables. Without the limitations of the short outdoor growing season, gardeners can experiment with more long-season and warm-season plants. Some of the vegetables known to thrive in a greenhouse in Michigan include:

    • Sweet Corn
    • Carrots
    • Tomatoes
    • Zucchini
    • Green Beans
    • Cucumbers
    • Asparagus
    • Celery
    • Pinto Beans
    • Onions
    • Potatoes
    • Pumpkin
    • Squash
    • Black Beans
    • Eggplants
    • Peppers
    • Beets
    • Brussel Sprouts
    • Cauliflower
    • Gourds
    • Okra
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Watermelon
    • Kidney Beans
    • Cowpeas
    • Cantaloupe
    • Jalapeño
    • Sugar Snap Peas

    Cucumbers growing in Greenhouse

    Why Planta Greenhouses?

    Customer Stories from Similar Climates

    For Michigan, we recommend the following greenhouses:

    • Sungrow
      Sungrow greenhouses have a unique, modern, heavy duty design. The Made for backyard farming in Canadian climate. Sungrow Greenhouses withstand snow and wind like no other.
      View Sungrow
    • Planta Farmer
      The Farmer Commercial greenhouses Series by Planta is designed for commercial cultivation of agricultural crops in farms.
      View Planta Farmer
    • Sigma
      Sigma Greenhouses have a traditional look with an amazing, modern, heavy duty design. Snow, wind, Canadian winter, are no problem for the Sigma Greenhouse. Galvanized Steel and Best Polycarbonate.
      View Sigma