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Plant Hardiness Zones and Frost Free Dates

There are literally thousands upon thousands of varieties of plants. Not all of them will thrive in a given type of climate. Cactus like the heat and dryness of semi arid areas. Palm and orange trees need lots of heat and water. Lettuce and cabbage does well in cooler weather. Plant hardiness zones define the environment for particular groups of plants. It is a gardener's tool for selecting the proper plants that will thrive in the area you live in.  By knowing the hardiness zone you live in, you can select the right plants to grow for your area.

Plant Hardiness zones represents the average low temperature range for an area.

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So why is this important? Each plant has a minimum temperature range in which it can survive during the winter months. Once you know your range, you can select perennial plants that will survive the winters in your area.

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zones map(above) is now interactive on the USDA website. By clicking on their map, you can zoom in on your state and town.

See USDA Interactive Plant Hardiness Map


Frost Free Dates:

The first and last frost dates are critical dates for those of us who plant tender annuals. It is crucial to know the first and last frost free dates in your area.

It is important to note that these dates can vary significantly, even in a small area. For example if you are right by a large lake, in a valley, or high up on a hill, overnight lows will vary. Check with local growers and your local garden stores.

Always be vigilant of tender annuals on cold nights. Be prepared to cover them up.


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