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How to Read Your Garden Zone Map

As self-sufficiency and growing your own are becoming more popular, a lot of people are picking up gardening. Here’s how to read your garden zone map.

When building a garden, one of the important things to need to consider is the location.

Location is an important element of a thriving plant. Sun exposure dictates much of an plant’s growing success.

And buying a plant that is not made for your area is as good as throwing money away.

One of the tools used by gardeners to ensure this does not happen is a gardening zone map.

USDA Garden Zone Map

Garden Zone Maps in the US

By learning how to use your gardening zone map (also called hardiness zone maps), you can identify the plants that can thrive in your “zone”.

There are 13 planting zones in America, with a 10-degree Fahrenheit difference for each zone, ranging from -60°F to 70°F.

It is further divided into subzones a or b, with a being 5°F cooler than b.

You can use plant tags to help you identify which plants are suitable for a specific zone.

If you want to know your plants’ hardiness zone, you can refer to the USDA zone map.

You can visit their website and click on your state the usda plant hardiness zone map, which will help you identify which plants will thrive in which location.

plant your cucumbers based on the USDA hardiness zone map

The temps listed are the “average annual extreme minimum temperature.”

  • Zone 0:
    • a: −65 °F
    • b: −65 °F to −60 °F
  • Zone 1:
    • a: −60 °F to −55 °F
    • b: −55 °F to −50 °F
  • Zone 2:
    • a: −50 °F to −45 °F
    • b: −45 °F to −40 °F
  • Zone 3:
    • a: −40 °F to −35 °F
    • b: −35 °F to −30 °F
  • Zone 4:
    • a: −30 °F to −25 °F
    • b: −25 °F to −20 °F
  • Zone 5:
    • a: −20 °F to −15 °F
    • b: −15 °F to −10 °F
  • Zone 6:
    • a: −10 °F to −5 °F
    • b: −5 °F to −17.0 °F
  • Zone 7:
    • a: 0 °F to 5 °F
    • b: 5 °F to 10 °F
  • Zone 8:
    • a: 10 °F to 15 °F
    • b: 15 °F to 20 °F
  • Zone 9:
    • a: 20 °F to 25 °F
    • b: 25 °F to 30 °F
  • Zone 10:
    • a: 30 °F to 35 °F
    • b: 35 °F to 40 °F
  • Zone 11:
    • a: 40 °F to 45 °F
    • b: 45 °F to 50 °F
  • Zone 12:
    • a: 50 °F to 55 °F
    • b: > 55 °F
a young girl gardening by her 2021 usda garden zone map

Defining Plant Hardiness

The term refers to the ability of the plant to thrive under extreme weather conditions and environmental problems.

Over the years, scientists have studied the components of different kinds of plants to determine their hardiness.

What type of plants can withstand cold & hot weather, not to mention flood and drought?

Keep in mind that each plant has different components, genetics, and adaptations, so the level of hardiness varies.

Some parts may even be harder than others.

This information will help you decide on which plants to grow in your garden.

a cucumber seedling

Understanding Your Location’s Planting Zone

Before you spend much money on plants, first identify what zone your garden is in.

Where we are in Virginia, we’re a zone 7a.

The USDA map also has an option to put in your zip code and get your specific zone.

So before deciding about which plants to purchase, make sure that the planting zone you provide is just appropriate.

A wise decision will keep your plants alive all year round. 

It’s also an indicator of a healthy and successful garden.

Beginners and advanced growers alike must know the different plants that grow best in a certain area.

They can refer to the detailed information provided by the nearby major metros.

The information reveals important things that may help in your gardening decisions, such as climate overview, gardening zones, and a lot more.

You will also know altitude, biome, average number of sunny days, average rainfall, average soil texture, average temperature, common grasses, growing season, plant zones, and USDA Hardiness zone and average.

how to start plants based on your garden zone map usa

Why Use a Garden Zone Map?

Gardening Zone Maps are helpful for gardeners growing perennial plants.

It can serve as a guide for helping these plants survive during the winter.

By knowing the temperature in your area, you can make wise decisions about which plants to choose with a hardiness level specific to the weather condition.

Wintertime can cause some trees, shrubs, and perennial flowers to die, so gardeners must be picky when selecting plants, especially those with low hardiness levels.

Otherwise, these plants will grow poorly and die during the wintertime.

Scientists and gardeners use the gardening zone map to guide them in making wise gardening or landscaping decisions.

When using this, keep in mind the things you want to achieve for your garden.

If your goals are clear, you can know when to make your garden better.