Friday, May 1, 2009

Trusting the Plant Hardiness Zones

Have you ever seen a palm tree on a Michigan Main Street? How about a Bird of Paradise plant in Wisconsin? Why are Texans already harvesting tomatoes in May? That certainly points out the different growing climates in North America.

The USDA has classified eleven plant hardiness zones to indicate where plants will thrive. The low numbers are the northern zones and the high numbers are warmer areas. For example, I live in Michigan in zone 5. As you travel south, the numbers increase. If you end up near Tampa, FL, you could be in zone 9.

A zone number is found on the backs of seed packets indicating that the plant grown from that seed is hardy for that zone. Tags on nursery stock also include the zones that are best for that plant.

Have you heard of microclimates within certain zones? The presence of a river or lake, the low lying areas, the protection from trees all change the growing climate for plants. Some plants could be hardy for your zone, but due to a microclimate in your location, the plant won't make it for another growing season. Be aware of all these factors when planting this spring.
To find out what zone you are in, click on the link below, then enter your zip code.

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