What Is Your Hardiness Zone?

Plants are classified into hardiness zones based on the minimum temperature they can tolerate for survival over the winter season. The USDA Hardiness Zone Map divides North America into 11 separate zones. Each zone is then further divided into A and B categories. The map is updated every 10 years to reflect changing average minimum temperatures across the continent. Category A reflects a 5-degree Fahrenheit difference from category B within each hardiness zone.

So, what are hardiness zones really?

  • Hardiness zones are geographic areas defined by their average annual lowest temperature. 
  • This temperature is a factor relevant to the survival of many plants. 
  • In some systems, other statistics are included in the calculations including humidity. 
  • Hardiness zones can help you choose plants that will grow the best in your area. 

Hardiness zones are geographic areas that help determine which plants you can grow in your location.

Plants are classified by hardiness zone

Again, the zones reflect the minimum temperature the plant can tolerate. Different plants have different ideal growing conditions, some like warmer temperatures, some prefer colder. Some plants need special individualized care altogether, it depends on the species and variety. In order to make sure your plants are being taken care of in the best way possible, it is important to know which hardiness zone you are in. This will give you an idea of what temperatures your plants can tolerate. Having this information in mind will make trips to the nursery an easier and more fulfilling experience.  

Can I plant crops that are outside of my hardiness zone?

  • Hardiness zones are guidelines, not rules.
  • Hardiness zones need to be more closely followed in cooler climates, a plant classified in zone seven will not survive the winter in zone two. 
  • However, many plants can be brought inside for the winter and spend the summer months outside. In the fall, spray down the plant thoroughly with a mild dish soap and water solution and bring inside to stay warm until spring. 
  • In warmer climates, the opposite is true. Some plants in a lower hardiness zone may not tolerate the heat and require a wintering season to leaf out and flower the following season.
  • You can still plant outside of your hardiness zone, but you need to take precautions.
  • Wrap or cover less hardy plants with burlap before the freeze date.
  • Check the hardiness zone before planting to see what precautions you need to take. 

Lastly, you don't really need to know your hardiness zone for each of your plants. The Taim.io app can determine which crops are best for you, and you don't have to bother with looking up hardiness zones, weather data, frost dates. Don't make things harder than they need to be!

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