Knowing your garden zone is the first step in becoming an effective gardener.
It is important to have a clear understanding of your gardening zone as it makes it easier to choose plants that will survive in your area.
So how do you know your gardening zone? In this article, we will be sharing everything you need to know about your gardening zone. And how to determine the planting zone in your area.
What Are Gardening Zones?
Truth is, not all perennial, shrub, or tree grows and thrives in every climate. For this reason, when choosing a crop for your garden, ensure to select the variety that can strive all year round.
Especially if you are staying in very cold regions. Such plants must tolerate the lowest and highest temperature and the amount of rainfall all year round.
By knowing which zone you’re in, you’ll be able to identify the best crops for your area as well as when to plant and harvest them. For me, knowing that I am in the same gardening zone as I grew up in meant that I already knew which plants would thrive in this area.
The two most commonly referenced hardiness zone maps are those produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Natural Resources Canada (NRC).
Note that planting zones are a guide, not absolute, especially if you live in a microclimate. These are tiny “pockets” which most commonly occur in areas with steep elevation changes, a body of water, or urbanisation. They may be warmer or cooler than the surrounding zone.
Find Your USDA Planting Zone
The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard for gardeners to determine the type of plants that is most likely to thrive in an environment.
The map divides North America into 11 main gardening zones based on average minimum winter temperature. Zone 1 is the coldest average minimal temperature (-50°F) and spans over parts of Alaska and Canada.
The zones move south from there increasing by 10°F for each zone. Zone 11 has the highest minimal average temperature at 40°F. The majority of Hawaii is in zone 11. The map does extend to zone 12 and 13 though, which are for Puerto Rico and very few parts of Hawaii.
The map is based on average annual minimum winter temperatures of each region and divided into thirteen distinct 10ºF zones, which are further divided into sub-zones of 5°F.
Most plants that you buy are marked with a hardiness zone number. The USDA map is colour coded making it easier to identify where your area lies.
How to Use Your Gardening Zone
Planting zones are mostly beneficial to gardeners of perennial plants, plants meant to live beyond just one season. Perennial plants have to survive the winter in your area, so it is imperative to know how cold it can get in your area. And also detect whether the plant can survive those temperatures.
Shrubs and trees grow best when planted in their appropriate zone. Winter damage usually occurs when plants are not planted in their right or comfort zones.
When you choose plants for a garden or landscape, avoid selecting plants that are only marginally hardy for your region; that’s when you’ll see winter damage, poor growth, and a reduction in flowering.
If you want to achieve stability when planting, then grow native species. Native plants are those that occur naturally in the region where you live. This makes them naturally thrive in their habitat.
When you are planting annual plants, give attention to the length of your growing season and the and the actual date of your first and last frost. That’s because annual plants, like vegetables and some flowers, have a life span of just one growing season, planting zones don’t necessarily factor into the equation.
Why Do I Need to Know What Gardening Zone I’m in?
It is easy to throw caution into the wind. But without a gardening zone, you won't know what plants will work. You will get to know the type of crop that will work and those that aren’t ideal fit your zone.
Gardeners in cold zones like zone 7 can grow a number of fruits and vegetables, but aren't ideal for many tropical plants. Likewise, games in warm zones, like Puerto Rico, can't grow cool weather crops.
Why Should I Know My Frost Dates?
Kills You should know your last frost dates as it details the time to plant to avoid late Spring frost that kill young plants. It also tells you when to harvest your least cold tolerating plant in fall.
In Virginia with zone 7A, the last frost date was April 24th.
What if I don’t live in North America?
While the USDA created this plant hardiness zone for North America, other countries have their specific gardening zone. Countries like Britain, New Zealand, Europe, Japan, Australia, and China have their gardening zones.
But if you are in a different part of the world, you can calculate your gardening zone. Simply take the lowest average temperature in your area and add 10°F (12.2°C) for each zone.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What zone is Jacksonville FL?
Jacksonville is between the USDA Hardiness zones 8B and 9A. Find plants that thrive in those climates.
2. What planting zone is TN?
The Tennessee planting zone is between 5B and 8A.
3. How late can you plant tomatoes in Tennessee?
Tennessee is cold and tomatoes are sensitive to it. So, wait until the last freeze season is over before planting outdoor tomato. That’s somewhere between late april. It's safe to plant tomatoes during this time. Better still, you can wait till june.
4. What is my growing zone?
Growing zones in Florida span from zone 8 to 10. Sometimes it falls to zone 11.
5. What is zone 9B in Florida?
9B in Florida is warm. 9A is an extreme winter temperature with 20 to 25 degree Fahrenheit. 9B is warmer than 9A with 5 degrees.
Knowing your gardening zone determines if you'll become an ideal and successful gardener or not.
It will also help if you take a look at the seed pack you want to plant. You'll find important information such as the amount of water the plant requires, sunlight harvest time, and more.
So next time you are confused on some key details about the seed you want to plant, ensure to check for such vital information. In the meanwhile, read the article again if you forget your zone for gardening.