Have you ever looked on the back of a seed package and seen a highlighted section of the United States, with the words “Zone 6-8”? Most beginner gardeners breeze over this, and then are met with disappointment when their plants fail to thrive, or worse don’t even sprout. Zone location is a vital piece of information that all gardeners need to know in order to select the best plants for their zone.
So how do you find out your zone? Easy! The USDA has an interactive map that will show your gardening zone (I’ll link it below for you)! For Florida, we are zone 8b (panhandle) to zone 10b (Miami)! Most states have a wide range of zones, since the USA is big, so make sure to select your city for the most accurate zone information.
Now, you might be thinking, why does zone location matter? Well, it matters because each zone indicates the average lowest temperature range of that area. This in turn helps us find plants that will tolerate that zones lowest temperature. If you’re thinking that zone 13b (the hottest zone) would be the best place to grow plants due to their lowest average temperature being 65, then you would be wrong. Some plants (think Peonies, Tulips, Lilacs) need to freeze in the winter. You won’t be able to grow some plants below zone 8 due to the lack of freezing temperatures in the winter. It’s not just winter temperatures you have to keep in mind, the plant in question also needs to be able to withstand the heat of your zone. A good way to think of zones is to think of the temperature in the house, you’re comfortable between a range of 72-75(or whatever you find comfortable) you’ll be fine if it goes a degree or two either way but anywhere way out of that range you’d be either too hot or too cold. Same goes with plants, they have a range that they are comfortable in. You wouldn’t want to sit in a house way out of your comfort range, and your plants don’t want to live way out of their own comfort range either!
So with a better understanding of zones, you can now make a more informed decision when it comes to what plants to select. You’ll have happy plants growing in their comfort zones and you’ll find that they will do much better!
USDA interactive map: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/phzmweb/interactivemap.aspx