Plant Zones: A Simple ExplanationFebruary 6, 2012
By Master Gardener Robin Ivanoff
“Hey, Baby, what’s your zone?”
No— not a bar pickup line! This is a question plaguing gardeners every spring when new, tempting plants appear in the local nursery.
Today, most plants have a convenient grow tag on or in the pot with them that gives specifics about light, water and fertilization. That same tag usually tells you the ideal planting zone— but unfortunately, there is more than one zone system that may be referenced on a grow tag.
In California and throughout the West, many nurseries utilize the Sunset climate zone system which divides up the west coast states into many more climate zones than does the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
Sunset’s climate zones consider the length of each area’s growing season, total rainfall and seasonal rain timing, winter low and summer high temperatures, plus wind and humidity.
The USDA plant hardiness zones, recently updated, are based on average annual winter temperatures, organized into 10-degree Fahrenheit zones.
Once you know both your planting zones, you are ready to select some of those juicy new plants you’re considering. Of course, if you’re still not sure, just ask your nursery plant person to help you select the right plants for your area. When you know your zones, you’ll have better growing success In And Around The Garden.
Robin writes the ‘Master Gardener Minute’ on HomeTown radio show, KVGC 1340-AM, in Jackson, California. She is host of this educational gardening segment along with Laura Clark, which airs at various times (and actually last longer than a minute) on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.