Posted on 25 May 2008 by

Time to Get in the Zone!

By Michael Nolan

It’s happened to the best of us.

We get excited about a new planting season only to have our hopes and dreams dashed when we learn — the hard way — that a particular plant simply can’t be easily grown where we live.

How much do you know about your planting zone?

No matter where you are in the world, there is a planting zone, and with that zone comes a recommendation as to what can and cannot be grown in yours.

The illustration above is a copy of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for North America. Now before you non-Americans jump all over me, I didn’t have ready access to a worldwide zone map or I would have posted it. I’m sure they are more readily available where you are, anyway.

As much as it pains me to say it, many heirloom plants aren’t advisable in all zones, while there are hybrids that have been bred specifically to grow under certain conditions and in certain climates, so the important thing is that you know your zone when you are deciding what to grow in your area.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been disappointed when I tried growing plants that just can’t handle the heat and humidity here in Alabama, or the extreme weather that seems to plague the area in recent years.

While many of the obstacles can be overcome, there are even more to consider when you are growing in containers, so that makes it even more important to ‘get in the zone’ — your plant growing zone.

Determine your gardening zone.

2 Responses to “Time to Get in the Zone!”

  1. Mike Garrison Says:

    Thanks for publishing thee USDA’s hardiness map, but it would be more useful to direct your readers to the US National Arboretum’s interactive version of this map (, which is a clickable image map where individual state hardiness maps can be displayed in an EASILY READABLE size and format.

    Thanks for your work on the behalf of urban gardeners!

  2. Michael Nolan Says:


    Thank you so much for the link to that website. I had it in my bookmark file, but with somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,000 bookmarks I was unable to find it in time to get this article published.

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