When you start seeds, plant bulbs, and plant and transplant flowers, shrubs and trees, you need to know your planting zone. I've been referring to this phrase over the past weeks, looking at starting a garden, seeds, and how to start seeds indoors.
What is a planting zone?
A planting zone, also known as a plant hardiness zone or growing zone, refers to a USDA-created map that shows different zones based on average temperatures in the United States. Hardiness signifies a plant's ability to survive cold temperatures and adverse growing conditions. Thus, the map's temperature range is based on winter temperatures. Each zone has an average temperature range of 10° F, though zones are divided further into A & B with a 5° F range. As the number of the zone increases, so does the average minimum winter temperature range of the zone. You can find your planting zone by entering your address or zip code into the search box of the map.
How does a planting zone help?
Know what kinds of plants will grow well in your specific location.
When you know your planting zone, you can figure out plants that grow well in your area. For instance, roses grow best in zones moderate zones (5-8). Tulips grow best in colder zones (3-7). Ranunculus are hardy in zones 7-10. This does not mean that roses, tulips, and ranunculus cannot be grown in other zones. It just means that they are hardy in specific zones and extra steps will need to be taken to grow them in other zones.
Know how to grow specific plants in your zone.
When you purchase seeds, you may see that in certain zones, the plant is a perennial or tender perennial whereas in other zones, the plant is an annual. For instance, dahlias are hardy in zones 8-10 while they need to be dug up in zones 3-7. Knowing your zone allows you to figure out how to treat specific plants.
Know when to plant.
By knowing your zone, you can figure out the best time to plant your seedlings, plants, or bulbs. Warmer zones will be able to plant out seedlings earlier than cooler zones as their last frost will occur, on average, earlier in the spring. You can figure out your average last frost and first frost dates from your planting zone.
Knowing your plant hardiness zone is one step in figuring out what, when, and how to plant in your yard, garden, or farm. The next step is to figure out your micro climate.
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