When part of the country is buried under thick layers of snow, it’s hard to even think about planting fruits and vegetables. Still, your healthy eating habits and environmental commitments don’t have to hibernate with the bears. Contrary to popular belief, there are a quite a few fruits that thrive in cold weather.
If you’re looking for some delicious ideas for fruits or berries to grow during the cold months, your options are going to depend on your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. Different fruits thrive in different climates, and the United States Department of Agriculture has divided the U.S. into 13 unique zones to give growers a better understanding of what they can successfully grow and when to plant them. If you’re looking to plant some fruits this winter, we’ve rounded up 21 of our favorites by climate.
In Colder Climates
If you live in zone 3 (parts of North Dakota) or zone 4 (parts of Nebraska), your growth options are somewhat limited. After all, these climates can reach minimum temps of -30 to -40°F. Still, there are some mighty fruits that can withstand the cold climate and even thrive in it. Consider growing these fruits in freezing climates:
- Honeycrisp apples
- Cherry plums
Your best bet: Pears
Not many fruits will ripen during winter when temperatures are below zero, so those who live in colder climates may need to purchase much of their fruit from other parts of the country between December and March.
Of all the cold-weather fruits, though, pears are some of the most resilient, with a season that can last from August to May.
In Warmer Climates
Not all of the U.S. faces blizzards in the wintertime. If you live in a warmer climate, such as zone 8 (including parts of Arizona) or zone 9 (including parts of Nevada), you have a lot more growth options at your disposal. Temperatures in these climates seldom dip below freezing, and they present the ideal year-round growing conditions, particularly for citrus fruits. Consider growing these fruits in warmer climates:
- Mandarin oranges
- Winter squash
- Passion fruits
Your best bet: Kiwis
Kiwis grow quickly on vines and ripen in winter and spring, so you can enjoy them during the colder months. Kumquats also ripen in cold-weather conditions, so they may be a good option if they’re to your liking. Mandarin oranges are sweet and juicy in winter, but they take much longer to grow.
In Hot and Tropical Climates
Zone 11 makes up the warmest and most tropical-friendly climate in the contiguous United States. It’s also the smallest zone, limited primarily to the southern tip of Florida and a small section of coastal Los Angeles. If you live in one of these areas, you have access to cold-weather growth opportunities not found in other parts of the nation. For example, these warm climates can accommodate papaya and mango, which are otherwise difficult—if not altogether impossible—to grow in the United States. The warmer zones 10 and 11 can also accommodate these crops:
Your best bet: Grapefruits
Grapefruit comes into season in January, so it’s an excellent fruit to enjoy during those chilly winter months on the West Coast.