Hardiness Zones-What Are They And What Do They Mean?

Hardiness Zones-What Are They And What Do They Mean?

Many novice gardeners have never heard of the term “hardiness zones,” or if they have, they have no idea what it means. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has divided North America into 13 different hardiness zones based on temperature and climate. Each one is labeled as zone 1, zone 2, through zone 13. Zone 1 is the coldest climate and zone 13 is the hottest. Each zone has a 10 degree differential, based on the average minimum temperature of the location. In other words, zone 1s average minimum temperature is 10 degrees colder than zone 2s. They then determine which plants grow best in which zone and recommend a hardiness zone for every plant.

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Hardy Plants are those that can be left in the ground safely all year even where frost penetrates deeply into the soil. Most of the beloved bulbs of spring (bulbs planted in the fall) are in this category – crocus, daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths. Lilies and many perennials are also hardy in most zones. It is important to know your hardiness zone, so that you can know what is hardy in your garden. The lower the zone number, the colder the zone. For example, Zone 2 is colder than Zone 3. A plant that is hardy to Zone 3, may not overwinter in a Zone 2 garden, unless given special protection. Bulbs benefit greatly from a 2″ to 4″ deep mulch of shredded bark or hardwood, compost or leaves. Mulch prevents the ground from alternately freezing and thawing, which can heave the bulbs out of the ground during winter. In summer, a mulch conserves moisture and suppresses weeds. Wait until the ground freezes before applying a winter mulch to fall planted bulbs.

Planting a bulb in its ideal hardiness zone is important. Just like you would never want to walk around in a shoe three sizes too small for you, a plant does not want to grow in a hardiness zone that is way outside of its comfort zone either. It can be too hot or too cold for the plant, which can result in it failing to thrive and grow. It can even cause the plant to die.

So you love a certain flower, but it isn’t hardy in your zone. Can you still plant it and have it grow? Absolutely! All flowers will grow in every zone, it is only when it is not hardy to your zone you must treat it like an annual and winter it.

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Wintering Bulbs

Bulbs and Corms that have a protective papery husk are easy to deal with. Simply dig up in the fall and shake the soil off. If the foliage has not quite died, leave the bulbs upright in a cool spot for a couple of weeks. Cut off the dead foliage and store the bulbs in old nylon stockings or mesh bags in a cool but frost-free area.bulbs

Summer blooming flowers with fleshy tubers or roots should be dug before frost and spread out in a shaded spot (like a garage) until the outside of the tuber feels dry. Then lay them in uncovered shallow flats or boxes filled with peat moss, sawdust or vermiculite. Check monthly to make sure they are not drying out and shriveling. They should stay plump until spring planting time, so you may have to sprinkle them with a little water to keep the right moisture. Too much water will cause mold.

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Here at Flower Power Fundraising we ship all of our products according to hardiness zones. This fall we will begin shipping our fall bulbs to the cooler zones first working our way across the zones from coolest to warmest.

When spring shipping begins, we ship in reverse starting with the warmer zones and working our way across to the cooler zones.

Flower Power will see that you receive your fall or spring bulbs in ample time for planting.

Let’s get at it. Happy Planting!

 

 

 

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