Summer Garden Guide: Planting Zones

| June/July 2010

  • Click on the image to zoom in.
    Photo courtesy USDA/ARS

• Online Exclusive: Zone Map Resources 

Before you add another plant to your garden, ask yourself: Will it survive both the lowest and highest temperatures in your region? If not, are there any cultivars or species of the plant that are more cold- or heat-tolerant? Refer to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and the AHS Plant Heat-Zone Map—they can help you in your quest for the best herbs to grow in your region.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

This map divides the United States into 11 zones and is based on average minimum temperatures. Plants are assigned a zone based on how low a temperature they can survive. Each zone differs by 10 degrees. The map was created in 1960 and included 10 zones. The 11th zone was added during a 1990 update; at this time, each zone was further subdivided into “a” and “b” regions.

Pros: This map is the most commonly used zone map and is very easy to use. It helps gardeners identify which plants will survive in their region’s lowest temperatures and is a great starting point for beginning gardeners.

Cons: This map only takes into account minimum temperatures; it doesn’t consider maximum temperatures, which can make or break a plant; degrees of dryness or moisture; light requirements; or plants’ preferred soils.

(Click here to view the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map.)

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