Hardiness Zones

Learning about my hardiness zone for the location we live in has been one of the most helpful things in our garden.  It allows us to learn what heirloom plants will do well where we live and which ones we shouldn’t touch.

A hardiness zone is “a geographically-defined area in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including its ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone.”

The USDA divides all of North America into 11 “hardiness” zones.  By locating the location of your garden on the map you can find out the climates where a plant is known to grow well. This is especially needed with heirloom plants, which can produce wonderfully, but only if planted in the right location and given the correct care.

Here’s a maps for the whole of the U.S. and Canada:

For more information or for a more interactive (and close up) picture of the U.S. hardiness zones, check out http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html.

For more information or for a more interactive (and close up) picture of the Canadian hardiness zones, check out http://sis.agr.gc.ca/cansis/nsdb/climate/hardiness/intro.html

Higher numbered hardiness zones are warmer areas, while lower numbered zones are colder areas.  When you hear that a plant is “hardy to Zone 6” that means that the coldest area the plant should be planted in is Zone 6.  Therefore Zones 6 and above are okay, but Zones 0-5 are not recommended.

The hardiness zones can even breakdown further, each numbered zone splitting into an “a” and a “b.”  The “a” zone of a particular number is cooler than the “b” zone.

Here’s the hardiness zone map for my state!

I believe we’re in Zone 5a here. There’s a slight possibility we’re in Zone 5b, but I think we just miss the cut off.

What zone are you in?


4 Responses

  1. We’re 8a almost 7b…but where do you find what plants that means?

  2. I’ve been lurking for awhile but I decided to comment since we are in the same zone & I think the same county. So cool to find someone else living sustainably so close. Great tips & ideas- thanks!

    • Hi Jenny, thanks for leaving me a comment! I checked out your blog too. Very cool – I love finding local people near me that have interests similar to mine. I haven’t been able to find too many!

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