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What is so hard about reading a zone map??? Cincinnati is 6B!!! not 5 or 6a.

What is so hard about reading a zone map??? Cincinnati is 6B!!! not 5 or 6a.
Posted by mike from ohio 6b on 2002-03-18 16:53:30

I have seen too many times to my great annoyance that Cincinnati is referred to as zone 5 or 6a. In some cases it may be true; but, if one looks carefully at the USDA zone map and has an idea of where Cincinnati is located, then it should be simple to surmise that the majority of Cincinnati is located in zone 6b which follows the Ohio River and is only broken by zone 6a and 5 around Lawrenceburg Indiana (which is NOT Cincinati!). I wish people would either be more care, take a geography class, or get an eye exam to check for color blindness before saying Cincinnati is zone 5 or 6a! This may not sound like a big deal, but it seems to perpetuate the falacy that Cincinnati is colder than it really is which in-turn affects what plantstock is offered by the nurseries. I can rarely find a Southern Magnolia or a Mimmosa or any other 6b plant for sale around here and have even been told that they will not grow here when there were large and healthy specimins growing within 100 feet of the nursery workers face across the street. I am glad to see Cincinnati properly listed as being in the UPPER SOUTH on this site as that is a much more accurate representation of Cincinnati than what is usually perpetuated (when traveling, I notice that there is more of a change in the plants and trees when going NORTH from Cincinnati than when going South from Cincinnati; in-fact, I would wager that Cincinnati has more in common with Knoxville TN. climatically than with Cleveland or Columbus OH.).
Thanks for letting me vent,
Mike P.
  • Zone maps?
    Posted by Kimm from 4a/5b-MI on 2002-03-19 07:58:10

    Keep in mind that the USDA zone maps are a very general guide as to which plants will survive the average lowest winter temperature in your area, and that is all it was every meant to be even though we often use them for much more. Now your particular micro climate may be a zone or two different than what the zone map shows and the only wat you will know that is if you keep your own records, ie. I am supposed to be in zone 6 (effects of Lake Michigan) but my years of record keeping here tell me that I am really bordering zone 4a/5b while my nearest neighbor to the north is firmly in zone 5a/6b. A pocket of cold air? A friend 6 miles northeast gets the same temperatures I do and another friend 6 miles southwest the same, but 1/4 mile north and south have different minimum winter temperatures.
    Your average minimum winter temperature is what the zone is. You can grow plants not recommended for that zone if other precautions are taken to prevent winter kill.
    • even an occasional palm.
      Posted by Mike from Cincinnati Ohio on 2002-03-21 12:46:20

      Thanks Kim. I guess people take the zone map a little too literal in my area (honsetly, I have had nursery workers here tell me that certain plants aren't hardy when there are well established, healthy plants within eyeshot.). Speaking of plants that can't grow here, I have seen (rarely, but they are around) small bush-like palms growing in the Cincinnati area, they are usually against a building (like the one on my college campus) and only have a very short (under 1 foot) trunk. Apparently these palms are completely hardy because not only do they survive outside all year, they rarely even defoliate and stay evergreen. These palms; although very uncommon, are totally hardy in the Cincinati and Northern Kentucky area. I have been told the palm on campus is a "needle palm". I am not confusing it with the yuccas that also grow here, it is definitly a palm (it has leaves at the end of branches that radiate from a small trunk, the leaves are sort of like the cabbage palms in South Carolina but not as big and are a bit more ridgid in structure and form; usually a very deep green.). Now, if I were to ask for a needle palm at a Cincinnati nursey, I would probably be laughed out the door because they seem to think that that Arctic Circle begins somewhere in Central Kentucky. I want to landscape with these plants.


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