The Q&A Archives: USDA Zone Map

Question: Hi, i just want to ask about the USDA Hardiness Zone Map and Tropical Palm Trees. I live in Easton, MD about 65miles away from Atlantic Ocean that is zone 7a. Is the climate in my town has a similar climate to the south let say northern Georgia and the Blueridge mtns of Georgia of the same zone? Do you also think that hardy palms like Chinese Windmill Palms that is grown in Atlanta, GA is also suitable to grow in the same zone in my yard? Answer is surely appreciated


Answer: The USDA winter hardiness zone map is useful as a guide, but it is not always indicative of a precise line on the map. The reason it is useful only as a guide is that there are microclimates that can affect the temperatures in your particular yard and sometims even within one yard. Exposure to wind for example can have a significant effect, as can being located in a so-called frost pocket. The winter hardiness map also only takes into account winter low temperatures and these are averages at that. Summer climate can also have an effect on winter hardiness -- the longer your growing season for example the easier the winters will be. And of course, a zone 7 location in Georgia is going to have a very different winter and summer experience than a zone 7 in the Pacific Northwest. Now whether or not one of these palms might survive for you would be a good question, since 7A is the coldest part of zone 7. In a colder exposed rural location it might actually be as cold as zone 6. In a sheltered spot in town however it might be a tad warmer and be a reasonable average full zone 7. With a favorable microclimate and a very heavy mulch, possibly so. You might want to discuss this with your local professional nurseryman and also with your local county extension. If you see other palms growing in your immediate neighborhood then that is a good indication of your odds for success. If you try it, consider it an experiment and have fun with it!

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