You won’t be allowed to grow jasmine in New York or citrus in Michigan unless you have a heated greenhouse. This is due to the fact that New York’s winters are too cold. Some plants’ range limits are easy to see — palm trees, citrus, cactus — but others are more difficult to spot. Are rhododendrons able to grow in Maine? (Most of it. Florida is a good place for lilacs to thrive. (Probably not.)

The US Department of Agriculture plant toughiness zone map is a handy tool to quickly answer these questions. It’s not a complicated way to determine how hardy your plants are. which plants will survive your local winters. Below, we will show you how and where to find your hardiness zones.

If you’re looking for more gardening tipsLearn more growing herbs at home, planting trees the right way why hydrangeas actually change color.

What are the hardiness areas?

Hardiness zones can be defined as geographical areas that are classified according to climate. These zones can be used for determining where plants will thrive.

The USDA 2012 Plant Hardiness Zone Map.


The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map divides Canada (USA) into 13 zones. This is based upon the average annual minimum winter temperatures. Each zone is 10 degrees warmer or colder than the one next to it in winter, with Zone 1 being coldest and Zone 13 being the hottest. 

This generally corresponds to a North to South pattern but that’s not always true. You can also find urban amenities such as mountains, desert topography, lakes, and urban. heat island effects Different zones within the same latitude or within miles of each other can result.

A plant’s winter hardiness is determined by its ability to withstand cold temperatures. For example, a plant that can survive Zone 5’s minimum temperature would find Zone 4 too cold.

Many fruits and vegetables sold in your local nursery or home improvement shop include a suggestion of the hardiness zone on the label. This map is used by many plants and fruits. The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map The most current version was created by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, and Oregon State University. PRISM Climate Group. Similar maps are available for the UK Australia.

What is the significance of hardiness zones?

You can adjust for many factors in your garden such as shade, water drainage, and soil quality. You can’t control the weather. To ensure that a plant, vegetable, or tree survives and grows year after year, it must adapt to the local climate.

The Plant Hardiness Zone Map is here to help. It allows amateur and expert gardeners to identify which plants are most likely to thrive in their climate. This helps them avoid planting anything that will not survive winter or spring frost.

Now playing:
Watch this:

See the CNET Smart Garden in action


The map is also a good way to compare your climate with the ideal climate for a particular plant you’re interested in growing. It doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t grow that plant in your area. It just means you should take extra care to address its sensitivities. For example, if a vegetable grows better in a warmer climate, you should cover it anytime your area has a frost warning. 

Inconsistencies and exceptions

The USDA map can be a good guideline, but it isn’t a set of strict rules to be followed. The National Gardening Association notes that while the map does a good job of addressing climates of the eastern half of North America, it has a few shortcomings, especially in the west, where climates are much more varied thanks to mountains and deserts. For example, though Seattle and Tucson are both in Zone 8 for temperature, there’s a large difference between the coastal, rain-heavy climate of Seattle and drier, inland Tucson. 


Hardiness zones can vary between towns and even within the same city. Denver is in a different zone than the suburban areas immediately surrounding it. 


If you’d like to view the zone for your area, you can use the USDA’s interactive map to find the plant hardiness zone in your exact location, down to the ZIP code. Remember, hardiness zones can differ across town. A heat island effect in downtown areas might warrant a warmer zone than a less-populated suburban area. Elevation change can affect average temperatures, too. 

While you might not notice big differences in which plants can survive in two zones so similar, it’s still important to know where your garden falls on the map. In my area (7b), vegetables like radishes, lettuce, peas and onions are all likely to thrive when cared for correctly.

You should also consider the direction and amount of sunlight your garden receives during the day. Your garden’s orientation to the sun and its shade play a huge role in the life cycle of your plants. 

Armed with the knowledge of your home’s hardiness zone, you can confidently sow, grow and harvest the plants most suited for your part of the country this season.

Source link