The Q&A Archives: Choosing Plants Based on Zone

Question: I am intersested in some of the perennials and shrubs listed for zones 5-9 and the USDA map shows my location as 11. The temp range shown is not consistant with my location. Advice?

Answer: You should consider yourself to be in USDA zone 10, where minimum temperatures range from 30F to 40F degrees. The USDA zone map is based on average minimum temperatures only, and doesn't address other climatic influences. It's slanted towards theview of plant cold-hardiness. For those of us west of the Great Plains, the Sunset Zone map is more useful, because it accounts for those other influences. Sunset considers you in zone 23, which is ideal for many subtropical plants. There's also the matter "microclimate", which means that the lay of the land creates a climate that differs slightly from the general regional situation. There are lower and higher temperatures on occasion, but most established plants can handle a short period a few degrees colder than normal.<br><br>Depending on the types of plants you're interested in for other zones, remember that some plants, apple trees for instance, need a pronounced winter chill to produce a crop. Check with local nurseries, garden clubs and the extension service (ph#619/694-2845) for information about what does succeed in your area - you may find a few of your desired plants growing thriving in the neighborhood!

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