What the Plant Hardiness Zone Map Can Tell You

February 10, 2012 | 5:02 pm

My daughter wanted to plant a banana tree in our backyard. She’s brilliant; think of the money I would save! (Her eagerness to plant everything she likes to eat makes me giggle!) I would love to send my three monkeys out to the backyard to pick their own bananas. Those of you living in zones 8-11, I envy you. You CAN plant and grow a banana tree in your backyard. I live in zone 6; we cannot plant tropics, like the banana tree, it’s too cold.

If you are new to gardening, the term zone may be foreign to you. A zone map has been created to save you time and money. Knowing what zone you live in helps you select plants that will thrive in your climate. It’s frustrating when I have planted, watered, fertilized and fallen in love with a plant, only to have it die during the winter or scorched by brutal heat. I could have saved the heartache (maybe I’m being a little dramatic) if I had paid attention to the zones it could successfully survive in.  Garden centers and garden catalogs will sell plants that are not for your zone, they sell because they are pretty, but beware, those plants should only be planted as annuals.

The Plant Hardiness Zone Map just got a makeover. Using more sophisticated methods for mapping zones and data from more weather stations, they updated the map and made it more accurate and detailed.According to the USDA, “Plant hardiness zone designations represent the average annual extreme minimum temperatures at a given location during a particular time period. They do not reflect the coldest it has ever been or ever will be at a specific location, but simply the average lowest winter temperature for the location over a specified time. Low temperature during the winter is a crucial factor in the survival of plants at specific locations.”

 

If you don’t know what zone you live in, check out the map. Enter your zip code and it will tell you exactly what zone you live in, no guessing. The new map shows that my climate actually warmed up a half a zone. We moved from zone 6a to zone 6b, however we’re still not warm enough for a banana tree.

 

 

 

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