Las Vegas Zones: USDA 9 or Sunset Climate Zone 11

Why is Las Vegas in two different zones, you ask? It’s because the USDA bases their zones on the extreme minimum temperature in an area, while the Sunset climate zones system uses the heat in a region as the main factor. Since we’re fortunate enough to experience extreme heat and extreme cold, Vegas falls into two different planting zones.  The USDA chart puts us in zone 9 and the Sunset climate zones have us in 11. 

So who should you go by?

They’re both technically right, so it’s really more important that you know which zone is being referenced with regards to a specific plant. Say you find a plant with information that says it’ll work great in zone 11. What you need to know is if the source that’s saying that is referring the USDA zone chart or the Sunset climate zones.  If it’s using Sunset’s zones, you’re golden. If it’s going by the USDA charts, that plant is gonna be hating life in Vegas come about December or  January. Come to think of it, it’ll probably be dead by then. Does that make sense?

What if you really want to plant something that’s not zoned for Vegas?

I say do it. Nobody’s calling the plant police. There are plenty of things that fall outside our zones that’ll do just fine here. It’s mostly going to be a science experiment as to whether or not the plant makes it, but you can certainly increase your odds of success by being smart about where you put the plant and how you take care of it.

For example, if you want to put in something that wouldn’t like our colder temperatures, put it in a pot, so you can bring it inside for the winter. Or put it in a protected spot. Or cover it with burlap. Or build a little hothouse over it in the winter months. There are any number of strategies that you can employ to help a plant make it through the cold.

If you’re looking to put in a plant that can’t take a lot of sun, put it in a place where it gets a little morning sun and then shade for the better part of the day. This is another time when a container is a good idea, since you can easily move it to a more sheltered spot if it seems like it’s getting too much sunlight. Don’t have shade? Make some! Use shade cloth or a larger, hardier plant to create a microclimate that’ll be easier for your desired plant to handle.

I think you’ll be amazed at what you can get to grow in Vegas. It just comes down to how hard you’re willing to work for it.

To find out what USDA zone you’re in without any doubt, you can enter your zip code here.

To look up your Sunset Western Garden zone, click here.


  • I have tropical guava tree growing in my yard I live in las vegas for the las 10 years and jacaranda tree they both do fine I just cover the guava tree in winter and in summer I get about 20 lbs of guava fruit from it..

    • That’s awesome, Jose! Your trees are living proof that you really can grow anything in Vegas. You just have to want it bad enough 🙂

      Thank you for being patient with my reply. I’ll be posting new material soon. I hope you’ll stop by to check it out!

    • Hi Shivon, you should be able to keep your Meyer lemon tree outside with no problem at all. If it’s young, I’d move it to a covered patio or up against a wall that faces south. You might also cover it with burplap or another fabric that allows air to flow (not plastic!). You could also wrap it with a strand of incandescent Christmas lights to keep it warm when we get a freeze. Depending on where you are in the valley, a mature Meyer may not need much in the way of protection from the cold though. Good luck with your lemon growing!

  • Hi,l was wondering why my tangerine tree leaves are curling and have little black spots on them.l water them deep by hose every 4 to 5 days during hot summer months

    • Hi Susan,
      Citrus leaves can curl for a number of reasons in Vegas. It’s usually that the plant’s not getting enough water but cold can do it too. Little black spots on the undersides of the leaves could be aphids or mites. My best guess without seeing it is that it’s the water. A good deep drink is exactly what you want to give your tree, but maybe a bit more often. If you’re hand-watering, just feel the top of the soil every couple of days and once it’s dry on top, you can soak it again. You might try rinsing the leaves with water as well in case you do have a pest problem. If it’s not a bad infestation a good rinse will normally do the trick but you might need to use insecticidal soap if water doesn’t knock em out. Good luck!

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