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Plant hardiness is an often misunderstood topic deserving special
discussion. It is not as simple as it may appear.
The USDA Hardiness Zone map is based on average winter low temperatures,
and doesn't take into account rare extremes. While the map is based
on a tremendous amount of data, it isn't perfect. Cold temperatures
are only one factor that affect plant hardiness. Cold temperatures
for one night are not the same as cold temperatures for a period
of weeks, even though the same low temperature is reached in both
cases. In many cases, a low temperature of zero degrees may cause
cellular damage that will start to heal if the temperature rises
rapidly. If the temperatures remain low for several days, cell
damage may continue, and result in the death of the plant.
Another phenomenon, seen in the cool areas of the West Coast of
the US is the difference in winter hardiness due to a lack of summer heat. In
many plants native to warmer climates, summer heat causes increased sugar production,
which allows the plants to survive more stress in the winter. In areas without
summer heat, a particular plant may only be hardy to 20 degrees F, while in an
area with hot summers, the same plant may easily be hardy to 0 degrees F.
Heat hardiness is an issue that has been discussed recently, and
while it is critical to those of us in warmer zones, the AHS Heat
Zone map is a laughable excuse for a solution. Their heat zones
are based only on the number of days above 86 degrees F. The heat
map does not integrate data for humidity, or the variance between
day and night temperatures which is far more important in determining
how far south a plant will grow.
For that reason, we have chosen the 1990 (most recent) USDA Hardiness
Map to help you in determining your Zone. The map is clickable
to show you more detail for your region.
We are also fans of 'pushing
the zone' in our garden to try new and different plants. If
you are brave and like to try plants out of zone, we would
love to hear your results. Use the 'contact seller' link to
share your experiences with us.