Have you ever caught yourself looking at plant tags in the store and making note of the light and water requirements but completely ignoring the hardiness zone?
It’s common sense to know what kind of climate you live in, whether you live in the mountains, a breezy coastal town, an arid desert, or a frozen tundra—after all, you live there. Because of this you probably think you know exactly what plants thrive where you live, but regardless of this seemingly simple observation, it’s worth checking the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Plant Hardiness Zone Map to know your number.
Let’s take a step back and get educated for a moment.
What actually is the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map?
The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map breaks down the continental US into 11 different zones (divided into 10-degree F zones) based on the average yearly minimum winter temperature. It was created to help gardeners and growers better understand their region and know what plants are most likely to thrive. If you are landscaping/gardening you’ll want to know what trees, shrubs, and perennials can tolerate year-round conditions like temperature ranges and rainfall.
While most local nurseries tend to have plants that will thrive where you live, they still might sell plants that need extra attention. They could sell plants that can stay outside year-round, some that would need to come inside in the winter, or even some that might need to be kept indoors all the time. You might see a beautiful tropical plant and think to yourself ‘I could keep that alive on my patio’, only to notice a week later that it dried up and died because it didn’t get the humidity it needed. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Next time you are at a garden center be sure to pay attention to the zone listed, and if it’s not listed just ask an employee.
To keep you from having to google a map, below is a copy you can download and save for quick reference. There is also a link to the USDA site’s interactive map so you can get a breakdown of your own state.