Using the Plant Hardiness Map

While it’s true some people can manage to make just about anything grow anywhere, for the rest of us, it’s a better bet to grow plants that thrive within our areas. To help gardeners, farmers and even backyard vegetable growers achieve a certain level of success with their efforts, there’s a nifty tool called the USDA Plant Hardiness Map.

The map breaks the United States up into many different regions. These regions are defined generally by numbers and are set in boundaries that typically reflect weather patterns and what kinds of plants can thrive within the those regions. The zones also take into consideration growing seasons for the different regions.

So, why does a gardener need to know any of this? It’s simple. If you know your zone, it’s easy to determine what kinds of plants grow well in your area and when they should be planted.

The zone map is designed to offer solid advice on growing seasons, plants to cultivate and more. It’s generally agreed upon by most companies that sell seeds and plants within the country, too. This means if you know your zone number, you can buy (in some places) plants that fit the bill according to the right number. This reduces the chances for making a bad buy on seeds or seedlings and increase the chances of your garden growing to expectations.

If you’re planting crops of vegetables, for example, knowing your zone number and matching up the right plants with the right planting seasons can be very beneficial. Some plants need to be put in the ground at set times based on weather conditions. The zoning makes this pretty simple.

If you don’t know what zone you’re in, you can check in a number of places to find out. The Internet is a great tool for doing so, but so are state extension service offices. Either place can provide you with a ton of information on what to grow where you live, when to plant it and when to expect to be able to harvest it or watch it bloom.

While some northerners can manage to make a palm tree grow in their homes, creating an apple orchard in Florida would likely be a bust. For those who consult the zone map before making purchases, they hedge their bets in favor of plants that are known to thrive where they live. This means less chances of failure and an overall better looking and well growing garden.

The USDA Plant Hardiness Map can be a gardener’s best friend. Check it out before putting your plants in the ground and you’ll be happy you did!