Wednesday, December 12, 2007

You need to know the climate zones for your roses

If you want to be the proud owner of a bountiful garden this year, the first thing you need to find out is which climate zone you live in. It's helpful to know that your town gets a lot of sunshine throughout the year, but that's not enough. It's actually the cold temperatures that make a difference in what you can and cannot grow in your area.

Know Your Zone

Anyone who knows anything about gardening will tell you that the most reliable source of this type of climate information is the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Consisting of 11 different climate zones covering all 50 states, Canada and Mexico, this map will help you determine what you can plant in your garden.

When you purchase plants, they'll come with a set of growing instructions that'll describe the growing conditions the plants need to thrive. It doesn't matter whether you plan to plant vegetables, flowers or plants to use as landscaping. Don't purchase anything until you've checked the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and confirmed your climate zone.

The map is quite large and very colorful. Its creation was a joint collaboration of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Arnold Arboretum (of Harvard University). The map is a compilation of years of weather data that tracked the average low (coldest) temperatures in various regions throughout the United States. Each of the different colors represents a different climate zone with Zone 1 being the region with the lowest (coldest) temperature. There, temperatures climb as low as -50 F (-45 C). At the opposite end of the zone chart is Zone 11, where the lowest temperature any time of year is always above 40 F (4 C).

The boundaries between the different climate zones for the most part lie as you would expect, with the colder zones covering the northernmost parts of North America and gradually warming the further south you go. Slight variations can be seen at points of higher elevation, again, as would be expected.

It's easy to figure out your area's climate zone. If you're online, locate a website with the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and then click where you live (get as close as you can). The map will zoom in on your region and inform you of the corresponding zone. Then you'll know!

Why the Map is Important to Rose Gardening

Roses really aren't as difficult to grow as most people think. They do require regular care and maintenance, but the number one thing roses need is an appropriate climate in which to grow. There are many varieties of roses and some are hardier than others, making them better able to handle colder climate zones provided they've been given the proper seasonal preparations. If you live in a colder hardiness zone (a lower-numbered zone) you'd want to look for roses that are bred for that zone, otherwise, you might find that those same roses that looked so perfect in the nursery don't look so healthy in your garden!

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