Gardening Basics: Garden Zones

The most important thing to know about gardening, is which garden zone you live in. In the United States – and most parts of the rest of the world – there are garden zones assigned which make it a bit easier to know which types of flowers, plants, trees, and shrubs will grow well in your area. These zones are segregated based on the amount of heat an area gets, and when the first and last frost of each year are.

Other things contribute to the success or failure of growing flowers and other plants though, and these include the amount of natural rainfall, the length of sunlight through the day, and the type of soil generally found in that area.

Because of these other factors, garden zones are just a baseline to get started with. You may find however, that some plants might not always act the way you expect them to for your gardening zone. This is because there are still some differences in the same zone, depending on where you live. Each zone stretches across the country from the east to west coasts, with the lower zones being farther north, and the higher zones being south.

The same zone on the east coast may be slightly different than it is in the desert southwest though, mainly because of differences in sun strength and humidity levels. There can also be drastic differences in the types of soil naturally available in each area. So while all plants are marked for which zones they will grow in and how much sun they like, the same plant may perform differently in one part of the country versus another.

A general rule of thumb though, is that if you can buy a plant or flower at your local garden center, it will probably grow with some degree of success in your area.

I find it best to try and start with small seedling plants, so that I can experiment with them in different locations without losing too much money. The first year I tried planting pansies for instance, they died quickly because they didn’t appear to like the full sun location I put them in. The following year I tried another spot which didn’t have such strong sunlight for so many hours of the day, and this worked well for them.

Meanwhile I discovered that Vincas would grow and thrive in the hottest places of my yard, no matter how many hours the sun was on them.

You can find out which gardening zone you live in by looking around on the Internet, or asking at your local garden center or nursery. If you live at the edge of two zones, you’ll find you have many more plant varieties you can experiment with growing in your garden too, because you can often do well with plants which grow in both zones.

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