The 2012 USDA P…

17 Feb

The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

On January 25, USDA released the 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and simply by typing in the zip code, users could find the ‘new’ hardiness zone for that area ( For most areas, the changed is more likely half a zone (5 °F).


The 1990 map.

What does this mean for the green industry? Be prepared!

First of all, don’t panic! Like we don’t know that it’s getting warmer and warmer every year, although USDA did say “changes in zones are not reliable evidence of whether there has been global warming”. With the warmer temperature, more plants will be able to survive through the winter. So would we have more plant materials available? More likely ‘yes’, although some plants may have trouble surviving through the summer heat, which will probably be outnumbered by the winter-surviving plants.

ImageThe 2012 map (Can you spot the 5  °F difference?).

Again, this is good news for us plant people. Some homeowners may have already known that their zone number has increased (although just a half-zone “upgrade”), and that more plants will overwinter. So some of the ‘pioneers’ will be looking and asking for newer plant materials.  A new market is created! Growers and landscape contractors be ready on the lookout for those requests. We need to walk in front of the consumers in terms of preparedness for the plant materials, and should be able to provide them with more ‘colors’ (aka. plant materials) on their landscape palette.

But this is also good news for what plant people don’t like—–spots, fungus, bugs (of course I’m talking about the bad ones), and let’s not forget weeds. They could overwinter too! And there will be more host plants that they could live on.  So again, be prepared! If you are a wholesale grower, scout, scout and scout. Learn about the new things as they may emerge from a corner of your nursery or greenhouse on a weekend that all employees just happen to take a leave. If you are a landscape contractor, learn, learn, and learn. One of your clients may complain to you about the new installation you just did a week ago that got chewed up by an insect you have never seen before.

But the most important thing? Enjoy! Always think about the bright side.


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