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The Benefits Of Buying Plants For Your Zone
Planning a garden can be a lot of fun, and mail-order catalogs can introduce you to all sorts of unusual plants that you might decide to try growing. But if you bring in a bunch of plants without taking your growing zone into account, you could end up with a dead garden instead.
These growing zones, better known as U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones, are assigned across the United States. They describe the average minimum annual temperature during winter because low temperatures are often what cause plants not to thrive.
If you buy a plant that can't withstand the average minimum winter temperature in an area, that plant could die very quickly. Even annuals, which you'd expect to die before winter, would be weak and not very productive because summer temperatures might be too cold for them, too. Also, plants meant for colder areas won't do well in warmer zones due to the higher temperatures.
But if you buy plants that are appropriate for your zone, the plants will thrive with proper care. Don't be discouraged if you find you can't grow your favorite plant because you're in too cold or hot a zone; breeders are continually working on varieties that can grow in different zones.
For example, just a few years ago the idea of growing citrus outside of hot zones, like zone 10, was almost unheard of. Since then, agriculture researchers have created a few cultivars of the satsuma mandarin (Citrus unshiu) that can be grown in areas as cold as zone 8. Or, think of the blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), a classic northern fruit; there is now a variety that grows in hotter climates.