What Are Plant Hardiness Zones and What Crucial Importance Does It Have For Your Garden?

What Are Plant Hardiness Zones and What Crucial Importance Does It Have For Your Garden?

With the gardening season upon us, you may be searching the Internet for tips and tricks on how to make the best of this time. In many articles, you may have come across the term “plant hardiness zones” or “growing zones”. Or maybe you have heard professional tree services in Rochester talk about Zone 7A or Zone 5 on their social media handles. 

The question is: Do you have any idea about these US plant hardiness zones or are you clueless like most of us? If you belong to the latter category, you are just at the right place.

Today we will break down the science and mystery behind the plant hardiness zones. By the end of it, you will also be able to figure out in which planting zones your garden lands. So, let’s begin!

What Are Plant Hardiness Zones?

The US Department of Agriculture creates and updates a plant hardiness map every few years. This map divides North America into 11 zones based on its minimum average annual temperatures. The lower the zone number, the lower the temperature in that area. 

Each hardiness zone represents 10 degrees of temperature difference. The zones are also divided into “a” and “b” segments. These sub-segments mark 5 degrees of temperature difference. For instance – zone 4 indicates minimum temperatures between -30 to -20 degrees F. Its “a” and “b” subdivisions represent -30 to -25 degrees F and -25 to -20 degrees F respectively.

The US climate zones for plants refer to how well a tree survives cold temperatures.

Why Knowing Your Plant Hardiness Zones Matter?

By understanding your area’s hardiness zones, you can figure out what type of vegetables, flowers, fruits, and trees will best grow in your region. If your zone has a long warm period, you can grow seeds that are 100 days + to maturity. But if you live in a much colder area, you may want to seek to plant seeds that are 60 days to maturity.

Quick Tip: Some plant seed packets list the days to maturity from when you transplant your seedling. They don’t count from when you are starting your seeds. 

So, plant seeds like squash, eggplants, and tomatoes which take a long to germinate, must be planted indoors first. Then, you will have ample time for growing them outside once the danger of frost passes.

How To Find Your Yard’s Hardiness Zone In The Map?

Finding your area’s hardiness zone is quite a simple task. Google search for USA’s plant hardiness map. 

You will get the map of the designated hardiness zones in the first result itself. This map will have a legend on one side showing colors correlated to each zone.

Look for your area on the map. And the color of your region will tell you exactly the annual average extreme minimum temperature range of your place.

Know Your Plant Hardiness Zone But Still Take Your Notes

The hardiness map applies a single formula for the entire country. Hence, there may be some region-specific climatic variables that aren’t taken into account.

 We recommend you create a gardening journal where you document the weather of your area on given days and months. Then, refer back to it and follow it throughout the years.

We Help You Make The Best Use Of Hardiness Zones 

At Branch Specialists Rochester, our certified arborists are experienced in handling plants in all hardiness zones. We know when to give a little extra time to your warm-season trees and when to plant the cool-season crops – based on your Rochester hardiness zone. Hire our experts and start planting plants today and grow a successful garden with plentiful yields! Talk to us to know more!

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