If you have ever purchased plants before, chances are you have come across something called the “plant hardiness zone” (or just “zone”) for a particular plant. These zones are determined by the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map which is utilized by all plant growers and sellers. The Zone Map is the standard that growers follow in order to decide the appropriate location in the US that a particular plant will thrive in best. The map is made up of 11 individual zones, each of which is approximately 10-11 degrees Fahrenheit warmer/colder than the adjacent zone in the winter months.
The zones are pretty important when it comes to planting and gardening, and aid in determining the success of a particular plant’s longevity in your climate. In order for a plant to thrive, it must be able to adapt to and tolerate your location’s climate all year long.
For example, if you live in South Florida (Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, the Keys), your plant zone is 10, which means that the annual minimum temperature for you would be around 30 degrees Fahrenheit and the best plants for your landscape would be warm weather loving ones, such as mango trees, tulips, Mahogany trees and Japanese fern trees.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you live in South Dakota, say, you are located in the zones 3-5 and experience annual minimum temperatures of -35 to -23 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter season. This means that the types of plants that will thrive best in your climate must be cold hardy, durable and able to withstand the winter weather without being damaged or destroyed. A few examples of these would be the Purple Prairie Clover, Evergreen trees, Blue Atlas cedar trees and the Cushion Spurge.
Before you purchase that beautiful flower or invest in a fruit-bearing tree, be sure to pay close attention to the appropriate zones for each and every plant to avoid planting and tending for a bloom that will only wither and die next season.
If you are unsure of your particular zone or have questions about a certain plant’s ideal climate, ask the grower or simply visit the USDA website here.