April 10, 2024

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and What It Means for Your Garden

How do homeowners and gardeners know what plants will grow best?

Every year, 80 million Americans use the Plant Hardiness Zones map created by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prepare their gardens and planting schedules. In November 2023, the USDA released an updated map for the first time since 2012. Let’s dive into what this map represents and what changes to look for.

What is the USDA Plant Hardiness Map?

The USDA plant hardiness zone map is a resource for gardeners, growers, and horticulture researchers across the country to determine which plants are likely to thrive in a particular location. Along with a color-coded grid of zones, users can also find the area’s lowest average winter temperature over a 30-year period, a crucial measurement for a plant’s survival.

Where is the Map Available?

The map is an interactive and free resource on the USDA website. Anyone can enter their zip code to view a color-coded view of their area based on plant hardiness zones. Additionally, you can compare your 2023 zone to the previous recorded 2012 zone or view a detailed breakdown of your state.

Why is the New Map Such a Big Deal?

While the hardiness zones have been updated every ten years, the new map, which released November 2023, uses data collected by over 13,000 weather stations and includes two new zones. Both zones have average annual minimum temperatures above 50- and 60-degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. The inclusion of these frost-free zones will help gardeners decide when it’s time to bring tropical and semi-tropical plants indoors.

In addition to the new zones, the new map puts about half of Americans into a new zone. Planters may find that they can grow different varieties of flowers and plants than before, allowing for more garden diversity.

One of the many benefits of homeownership includes creating your own garden! Much like the homebuying process, gardening takes preparation and cultivation to thrive. Ready to take the leap into homeownership? Contact us!

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