WHAT ARE GARDENING ZONES AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
When you buy a shoe, its no doubt that you will buy a size that fits your foot. The shoe size should not be small, neither should it be big, but it must be a fitting size. Same to plants. If you’re an average gardener, you might have heard about “zone hardiness.” In this guide, we look at the history and why zone hardiness is crucial for you as a gardener.
History of Hardiness zones
The first attempt to create a hardiness zone system was carried out by two researchers Arnold Arboretum and Alfred Rehder, and the second by Donald Wyman. Although the second map was widely used, it eventually fell out of use entirely in 1971.
Later, the United States hardiness zones (USDA scale) was developed to help landscapers and gardeners in the USA. The USDA defines 13 zones by annual extreme temperature. Although designed to help the Americans initially, the map had been adopted by many countries.
What is plant hardiness?
Refers to the plant’s ability to survive adverse weather conditions like drought, heat, flood, and cold. It’s worth noting that plant genetics determines its ability to withstand cold temperatures without damage.
What exactly is Zone Hardiness?
Refers to an area that encompasses a specific range of climatic conditions that support different plant growth and survival.
Planting a plant in an ideal hardiness zone is essential. Like the same way you would not want to walk in a shoe that is two times big for you, plants too cannot perform well in an area that is way outside their comfort zone. The area should not be too cold or too hot for the plant’s survival. Such conditions can result in a plant thriving or failing.
However, you might be wondering what will happen if you like a plant and you’re in a zone that is way outside recommended area? Can you make an exception? Well, the answer is yes.
Since understanding your hardiness zone is crucial, you might be asking yourself, how can your tell which spot is right for which plant. To understand this, you can check the plants’ tag information. If you aren’t sure, you need to contact your local gardener centre to get more information.
Importance of knowing your gardening zone.
Understanding your zone is a crucial recipe for choosing plants that can thrive and survive in that area. Besides, selecting hardy plants within your location may lead to disappointment, frustration and unnecessary expenditure.
Additionally, it helps align your plants growing season, timing and the amount of rainfall, the temperature to ensure that the plants you are considering to plant have the right conditions to grow.
Identifying your gardening zone is critical to your garden growing success. The USDA provides a piece of informative information on average temperatures across the united states. The zone hardiness maps are primarily based on the moderate extremes collected yearly for minimum temperatures in a given geographical area.
However, it’s also worth noting that maps don’t consider the peak temperatures in any particular zone. Thus, knowing your zone can help you decide which plants can do well in a specific period.
Note: Plant hardiness zones aren’t foolproof. Therefore, here are some don’ts of using zone hardiness maps you should be aware of.
– Some planting zone areas have micro-climates, thus affecting the growth of plants in different locations.
– Unprotected areas, for instance, the sloppy areas, may be prone to colder temperatures and frost than the elevated areas.
– At times, temperatures can soar higher than what’s provided for on the maps.
How to find out your Hardiness Grow Zone.
If you want to find out the kind of plants that can survive in your area, we recommend following this process. Note that we will use the USDA map in this case. If you’re outside the USA, you can check your local map, and the process will almost be similar. If you’re in the United Kingdom, know that the hardiness zone lies in the USDA zone 6-9. However, there are some variations due to seasons and regions.
Step 1: Look at the map and pinpoint your location
In the US, the majority of the regions fall between the USDA planting zone 4-8.
Step 2: Identify the recommended plants that can survive within the identified region
If you’re unsure which plants fall in your region, then it’s recommended that you talk to your local gardener. However, you find this on the plant tag information.
Although plant hardiness affects the growth of your plants, some other factors come to play too.
Factors that affect plant growth
- Sunlight: Before you plant, you need to note the amount of sunlight your garden receives since some plants might require a minimum of 6-8hrs of sunlight each day. On the other hand, some might require partial or complete shade as a growing condition.
- Soil pH: Soil consistency varies from one region to another. Besides, different plants have different soil structure and specific pH values. Thus, it’s critical to understand what your plant requires.
- Water: Before adding any plant to your garden, consider its water requirements and needs.
Now that you understand how to find your hardiness zone, it’s time to look at growing plants in your garden zone.
Step 1: Plant heat tolerance
Before you plant, you need to take into account the heat tolerance of your plants. For instance, if you want to grow the Spiraea japonica, which thrives between zone 4-8, you must understand that it will only perform well in winter with a temperature drop of 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Consider your Micro climate
living o warmer climates can make finding your gardening zone more difficult. The south, west and the coats regions are riddled with micro climates that are influenced by elevation
Step 3: Understand that plating times vary according to your hardiness zone
The best time to plant flowers, trees, or perennials depends on your zone.You should take into consideration the plants that do well in cold weather temperature zones might not do well in hot weather.
Step 4: Play it safe.
Take into consideration the ever-fluctuating climate when selecting a plant to grow.