Monday, October 17, 2011

What is my plant hardiness zone?

A wonderful web resource for finding out what plant cold hardiness zone in the US you are gardening in:

Plant Maps.com
Go the the page and type in your zip code, or select your state in the index list.

For instance, when I looked at the map of Pennsylvania, I was able to see that it is not all my fault that some of my plants did not survive the winter! Negative 20 degrees F (-28 C) is pretty cold!! Since I am in zone 5, I can see that I should expect to use plants that will survive temperatures down to negative 20 degrees F.

The caveat to counting on plant hardiness zones is that one must remember that they are averages. There will be times and places which will experience colder or warmer temperatures from the rest of the area.

For example, if you garden way out in the country it will get colder than if you garden in town.
In town, with lots of buildings and paving around your lot, you might be a zone warmer.
Another twist might be that a sheltered area in a warm spot of your yard (called a microclimate) might only be warmer for summertime; it may also be a frost pocket because the winter wind funnels into it (advice stolen from one of my favorites, C. Lloyd).  

Each garden - and even each spot in your garden - has its own characteristics.

But still, this is very useful information for getting you into the ballpark, so to speak.
Gilmore Gardens in October in Zone 5

6 comments:

  1. Congratulations on being featured as Garden Photo of the Day!

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  2. It is helpful to be in the ballpark. Beautiful photo!

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  3. Julie this was great and so helpful. I was always told i was Zone 5 and indeed I am zone 5a and on the line actually for zone 4b and 5a...so I guess I am pushing the envelope many times with some zone 5s. i will be more aware of this and where I place certain plants...love the garden shot in October!!

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  4. This is so detailed. Thanks for posting this...it is really helpful!

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  5. Interesting info about hardiness zones, liked the website. Also keep in mind warmer microclimates within gardens where the hardiness zone can often be defied.

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  6. I am glad that everyone is enjoying these interactive maps like I did! It really is interesting to look at the areas around you also.

    Carolyn: Thank you for your very helpful input! It helped me to realize that I had not been as thorough as I thought I had. I made some revisions. Thank you!!!

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