If you want to successfully start or maintain a garden, it’s important to know your grow zone. The grow zone refers to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, and will tell you which plants will grow well in the climate where you live. This way, you won’t plant things that can’t survive in your climate.
There are 11 hardiness zones: Zone 1 is the coldest and Zone 11 is the warmest (a tropical area found only in Hawaii, coastal Southern California and southernmost Florida). Between these two, the zones follow a fairly predictable pattern, though there are some scattered patterns of variations. In general, colder zones are found at higher latitudes and higher elevations.
Seed packets or gardening catalogs might simply refer to, for example, “Zone 6,” which generally means that the plant in question is hardy to that zone and can endure the coldest temperatures there. In addition, the plant can also generally withstand all the warmer zones below it. A range of zones, such as “Zones 5-9,” means that the plant will only grow in the zones specified, and will not tolerate the colder and warmer climates outside of them. It is important to remember that these zones are only a guide; you might be able to grow more than the books say you can; conversely, a plant that should be hardy in your zone might not be.
Shasta Daisies photo courtesy Burpee