What are Plant Hardiness Zones and Why are They Important?

Plant Hardiness Zones image, Landscaping zones

What are Plant Hardiness Zones and Why are They Important?

We all live in a geographical area with a specific climate, like us in Florida with four! Not every plant will grow well in your climate zone. Some plants cannot tolerate the heat (or cold, for those of you in northern states), or the precipitation, or ground composition. This is why you see certain kinds of plants, flowers, and food grown only in specific regions, such as citrus in Florida. Oranges don’t tolerate freezing temperatures.

In order to help growers find the best places to grow, the USDA has devised a map that divides North America into eleven separate planting zones. These zones are called Plant Hardiness Zones and each one is an average of ten degrees warmer or colder in the winter than the zone adjacent to it. Sometimes these zones are used on plant information descriptions or gardening catalogs to let growers know where the plant will grow best – which helps you when you’re buying plants.

First created in 1960, the Plant Hardiness Zone map has been revised several times over the years, the latest being in 2012. More recent updates include using more sophisticated data, such as changes in elevation, terrain position, and proximity to water. This greatly improved the accuracy of the map and its helpfulness to growers.

Why are Plant Hardiness Zones important? They are extremely helpful to gardeners in helping to compare the zone they live in, to the zone where a plant is supposed to grow well. This is of particular interest in states with more unusual climates, like Florida, where it rarely freezes and has high humidity. If these zones didn’t exist, it would be extremely difficult and disappointing for growers using a trial-and-error method of finding out what they can and cannot grow. While there are factors that the map does not take into consideration, such as snow cover and length of freeze time, overall it is a very useful tool for gardeners throughout the United States.

If you are considering planting a garden, or any kind of landscaping, using the Plant Hardiness Zone map would be greatly beneficial in choosing your plants. It can help you learn more about the area in which you live and make wiser choices in what to plant or not plant in your area. Save yourself time, money and much frustration by consulting the Plant Hardiness Zone map and you can look forward to a beautiful lawn or garden in the future.

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