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January 23, 2014 by James Gibson 3 Comments Interactive USDA Plant Hardiness Zones web map allows the use of zip codes to identify zone.
Experienced gardeners know that many factors determine the choice of plants for an outdoor garden. A geographer and a gardener, I’ve gardened for over forty years at the same geographic location, Windsor, Ontario, across the river from Detroit, Michigan. On a macro and global level, an understanding of the thirteen or so broad geographic areas we call plant hardiness zones provides some guidance. Gardeners, particularly those growing perennials, benefit by using hardiness zones to help them gauge which plants and garden pests will survive the cold in their particular region of the world.
Originally, in the United States, the annual extreme minimum temperature ranges of an area averaged over about 30 years provided the base for plant hazard zones.
The updated map also encompassed other factors, such as elevation and proximity to bodies of water, in an attempt to make the data more accurate.
Each temperature zone on the map covers 10°F: Zone one is the coldest (-60 to -50) and Zone 13 is the hottest on record (60 to 70). First developed for the United States by the Department of Agriculture (USDA), other nations have adopted use of the zones. Presently, there is no agreed upon single global plant hardiness map.  The fact that the regions of the world use different and often undefined methodologies and time periods complicates it by making comparisons difficult. While not universally accepted, these maps allow easy comparison of plant hardiness zones without having to consult multiple maps created with the aforementioned differences.


James GibsonJames Gibson gained an honors degree in Geography from the University of Waterloo, and subsequently a teaching certificate from the University of Western Ontario. Your browser does not support inline frames or is currently configured not to display inline frames.
Reprinted from the Government of Ontario, Canada website, for non-commercial purposes only. They also know, or at least they should, that picking the right plant and the best location for planting is not an exact science.
The United States Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zone Map originally divided North America into 11 zones, each 10°F warmer or colder in an average winter than the adjacent zone. The hardiness zones, ranging from 0 (harshest) to 8 (mildest), use recent 30 year normal climate ranges. But, as Scientia Agricola reports, developing global plant hardiness zone maps use two data sets: First, maps use the Climate Research Unit (CRU) 1973–2002 monthly data set, and secondly, they use the Daily Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN). First off, they sometimes do not consider day length (which changes considerably the further from the equator you go), snow cover (which moderates soil freezing and insulates roots), and humidity, frost, or soil moisture. The classic example is a comparison of the Shetland Islands located north of Scotland and the USA’s southern Alabama which are both in  Hardiness Zone 8-9.
In this era of social media, crowd sourcing is a valuable tool already used in climate studies and human rights. A younger garden has micro-climates quite different from an older garden, and climatic anomalies, like the shifting polar vortex, do occur over time.


By 2012, there were 13 zones on the map, which became interactive by including smaller areas accessible using zip codes. Future maps, similar to the Canadian example of using formulas, may incorporate other variables such as degree days and available moisture.
So the hunt is on for experts and the public from all over Canada and, ideally, the United States, to improve Hardiness maps for everyone in North America.
The experts can then create range maps from a data-created climatic profile and update them as the data grows. Ontario is Canadaa€™s second largest province, covering more than one million square kilometers (415,000 square miles) a€“ an area larger than France and Spain combined. For beans, allow 8-12 inches between the plants; for soil improvement, space much closer and mow or till when the plants begin to bloom. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes on the south.Ontarioa€™s most northerly communities are close to the same latitude as London, England and Warsaw, Poland.



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