The 15 Best Plants/Vegetables to Grow in Ohio

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Although it’s known for its cold winters, the state of Ohio features optimal conditions for the rest of the year to grow vegetables or other plants. The temperate spring and fall seasons allow Ohio gardeners to enjoy a bountiful harvest. There are lots of different plants that can be grown successfully in this state. However, it’s mainly recommended to focus on Ohio’s native species when it comes to flowers. If you’re mostly interested in creating a vegetable garden, you should focus on plants suitable for USDA hardiness zones 5 and 6.

If you choose to grow the right plants that thrive in Ohio’s climate, you will be able to take advantage of many benefits. It will be much easier to take care of the garden and you can make considerable water savings. Planting native perennials could be great for the local wildlife, such as birds. Without further ado, let’s find out which plants and vegetables are best suited for growing in Ohio.

1. Kale


A nutritional powerhouse, kale represents an excellent option to add to any garden. However, it’s particularly easy to grow in Ohio thanks to kale’s hardy characteristics. Young plants can withstand even low temperatures reaching 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Kale doesn’t just tolerate the cold but actually grows ideally in it. Hot temperatures can have detrimental effects on this vegetable.

Kale isn’t just used as food because the plant has some ornamental abilities. It can also be used to decorate the garden with its characteristic colorful crinkled leaves. Beginner gardeners shouldn’t have too many difficulties growing kale. The vegetable is suitable for gardening pots. It can handle full sun to partial shade and tolerates any well-draining soil as long as it’s rich in organic matter.

2. Beets


Ohio offers ideal growing conditions for root vegetables such as beets. Although you might have to work more on preparing the soil, it’s extremely easy to grow beets. These plants are efficient to add to your garden considering how you can use both the roots and the greens. A great advantage of planting beets is that it takes a relatively short period of time until the vegetables can be harvested.

Aside from preparing the soil properly to create a hospitable environment for beets, there are other aspects to keep in mind if you want to grow this plant successfully. It’s recommended to set aside a sunny spot in your garden to accelerate the growth of your beets. The resistance to frost makes this an ideal vegetable to grow in Ohio as a fall crop.

3. Carrots


The climate of Ohio should match the growth requirements of carrots quite easily. They can be planted in the spring or in the summer while often surviving the winter to get a second crop next spring. Carrots thrive in cool temperatures and can be positioned in flexible areas of the garden. They’re able to grow successfully even if you put them in flower beds.

As this is a root vegetable, it’s important to prepare the soil before planting by cleaning it of rocks and bark pieces. Sandy, well-drained loam soils allow carrots to grow optimally. You might get mixed results with other types of soils. Carrots mature pretty fast so you can keep planting new seeds to enjoy fresh vegetables from spring to fall.

4. Peas


Similar to other cool-weather crops, peas boast great hardiness and will be able to thrive in Ohio’s chilly springs. The vegetable can tolerate frost but it might be damaged from extended periods of freezing temperatures. Once established properly, it will be a breeze to maintain the growth of your peas. The vegetables require approximately six weeks until they can be harvested.

These nutritious legumes will need full sun to grow well. Some varieties of peas grow in vines which means they require a support structure like a trellis. Peas have to be sowed very early in the spring because their growth can be impeded by hot summer days. When it comes to water requirements, peas perform great with consistent amounts of rain each week, often not needing additional watering.

5. Turnips


Turnips are simple to grow in Ohio because they allow for flexible planting either in spring or in late summer to get bountiful crops. Both the roots and the greens are edible. If you’re also interested in using the greens of turnips, it could be better to select a garden spot with partial shade. However, full sun is required for the optimal growth of the roots.

Similar to other root vegetables, preparing the soil bed is an extra step required when growing turnips. Plant these vegetables at intervals of approximately two weeks to extend the harvesting through the season as much as possible. It takes almost two months for turnips to get ready for harvest. Late fall varieties are typically hardier than summer turnips.

6. Cauliflower


Some gardeners may be intimidated by the idea of growing cauliflower because it’s known as a fairly temperamental crop. This vegetable can be quite challenging to grow successfully unless you manage to meet all of its critical requirements. Ohio is a great location to grow it because it’s a cool season veggie. It will most likely fail to develop properly if the temperatures exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you feel up to the challenge of growing cauliflower, it’s essential to choose the right time for planting. This vegetable might require starting indoors if you prefer to sow it in the spring. Cauliflower plants love moist conditions but will struggle to grow in soggy soils. Fertilizer and compost are highly recommended to obtain great growing results.

7. Asparagus


A solid pick for any Ohio gardener, asparagus is usually planted by the roots and can produce bountiful harvests for many years to come. Growing this vegetable isn’t particularly difficult, but it can be challenging to maintain its health. Asparagus is sensitive to weeds. You will need to create a weekly weeding schedule if you’re worried about this problem.

If you’re interested in growing this plant, keep in mind that it takes a lot of patience to get it started. You shouldn’t expect a great harvest in the first year. Once your asparagus bed gets its roots firmly established, however, the plant becomes much more productive with healthy and fibrous spears. Asparagus needs to be mulched and watered properly to maximize vegetable production.

8. Onions


It’s rare to see an Ohio vegetable garden that doesn’t feature onions. These plants are extremely adaptable and simple to grow which makes them very popular in vegetable gardens. Onions prefer full sun and well-drained soil with a good amount of organic matter. Most types of soils are tolerated by this vegetable, except heavy clay soils that have drainage issues.

You can grow onions by using different methods. Sets or transplants are more convenient, but growing the plants from seeds is cheaper even though extra work is required. Seeds can be sown directly once the spring soil warms up, but it’s usually recommended to start onion plants indoors. Bulbs can be harvested after approximately 3 to 4 months after planting.

9. Black-Eyed Susan

Black Eyed Susan

A native perennial of Ohio, black-eyed Susan represents a great plant to grow. It features decent hardiness overall, especially when it comes to facing drought and poor soils. Black-eyed Susans blooms resemble the appearance of daisies, except they feature golden flowers with a dark center. These wildflowers naturally occur in fields and open woods.

Aside from being easy to grow in Ohio, this flower is highly recommended for pollinator-friendly gardens. Black-eyed Susans are extremely attractive to bees and butterflies. Mature plants can reach heights of more than 3 feet making them beautiful cut flowers. The perennials thrive in full sun which enables them to grow healthy blooms.

10. Hydrangea


If you’re interested in planting a shrub in your Ohio garden, hydrangea is an excellent option. A collection of these plants will be able to create a stunning focal point thanks to their colorful blossoms. Hydrangeas are tall and voluminous shrubs that can be considered ideal if you need to fill a certain barren spot in your garden. Cut stems placed in a vase are very attractive for home decor.

Hydrangea is a hardy plant but it generally performs best in dappled shade and moist soils with good drainage. The shrubs can be planted in spring or autumn when soil moisture levels are reasonably high. Although hydrangeas can benefit from mulching to grow attractive flowers, the plants shouldn’t be fertilized because of the risk of encouraging too much leafy growth.

11. Cardinal Flower

Cardinal Flowers

Featuring spikes adorned with vibrant red blooms, the cardinal flower represents a great plant for Ohio gardeners. It takes its name from the robes of a Catholic cardinal. This is a recommended native species for introducing a colorful touch to the yard during summer. The gorgeous red flowers can attract beneficial insects and various types of hummingbirds.

When it comes to growth requirements, cardinal flowers are adapted to thrive in moist areas with full or partial sun exposure. In its natural environment, the plant can be found in swamps and low-wooded regions. Dry soils are very damaging to cardinal flowers. Make sure they’re planted in rich soil that’s almost wet. Pick a cold-hardy cultivar if you want a similar resilience level as a native plant.

12. Marsh Marigold

Marsh Marigold

Ohio gardens with ponds can provide the ideal growing conditions for native plants adapted to swamps, such as marsh marigolds. Despite its name, this plant isn’t technically speaking a marigold. It’s sometimes called caltha cowslip and is part of the buttercup family of plants. The plant can show off its characteristic yellow blooms when planted in the correct locations in the garden.

Marsh marigolds thrive as pond plants and are extremely low-maintenance. Their blooming period starts quite early. It’s recommended to find a garden spot with partial to full shade for ideal growing results. Damp soils with adequate moisture are required for marsh marigolds. Although the plant is sensitive to drought, its natural hardiness allows it to remain dormant and survive until next year during dry periods.

13. Lilac


Grown for its pleasant scent and beautiful blooms, the lilac is a low-maintenance plant that can thrive in Ohio’s climate. The shrub produces vibrant flowers in the spring as long as you choose a sunny planting spot and well-drained soil. Whereas other flowering plants can’t withstand low temperatures, lilacs are very resilient. They can even handle strong winds.

There are different varieties of lilacs available. The most common ones show off pink and purple blooms, but white and yellow types can be found as well. When planting lilacs, it’s recommended to add a layer of mulch because these plants can be vulnerable to weeds. Once established, the shrubs don’t require any complicated maintenance aside from regular pruning.

14. Turtlehead


Turtlehead shows off flowers that resemble the look of snapdragons. This hardy plant is a native of Ohio’s stream banks and lakes. It grows easily even in more inhospitable conditions thanks to its natural resilience. Turtleheads are highly recommended for gardens where it’s desirable to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The delicate white or pink blooms can easily decorate the yard in late summer.

This clump-forming perennial enjoys moist locations and can’t tolerate dry soil. It’s a breeze to grow in gardens that don’t get too much sunlight because turtleheads thrive in partial shade. Although they’re relatively low-maintenance, these plants need adequate levels of moisture until they’re fully established. Watering them more often is important if you wish to encourage flower production in the blooming season.

15. White Wood Aster

White Wood Aster

The delicate flowers of white wood aster make a striking contrast against their dark stems. These elegant wildflowers can be successfully planted in an Ohio garden considering their simple growing requirements. They produce characteristic small white flowers in late summer and early fall. If there are dry shade locations in your garden, white wood aster might be an excellent choice as it can tolerate such difficult conditions.

This bushy perennial prefers moist clay, loam, and sand soils assuming proper water drainage. It’s a versatile plant that thrives in a multitude of different growing conditions making it a beginner-friendly flower. White wood asters aren’t affected by many pests or diseases and work nicely for cottage gardens or flower borders.

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