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Planting Zones in the US

Plant cultivation of any type takes proper planning and research to discover what’s best for your crops. This includes taking into account your location. Where you live has huge environmental impact over plant cultivation, as your specific environment will influence lighting, temperature, moisture, and overall the ability to grow the foliage you want. But, how can you determine all of these things based on where you live?

Thankfully, that’s where planting zones come in. These specific zones make the cultivation process worlds easier to navigate, helping growers of all experience levels understand their climate even a little bit better. If you’re confused, don’t worry! Today, Luna Cultivation is talking all about plant zones in the US and how they’ll benefit your future harvests.

What are Planting Zones and What Do They Measure?

To help measure the necessary environmental factors needed for proper plant cultivation, farmers have divided the US into 13 planting zones. By combining information from the USDA, these planting zones are able to consider:

  • Altitude

  • Average atmospheric temperature

  • Average number of sunny days

  • Average rainfall

  • Average soil texture

  • Biome

  • Common gasses

  • The growing season

  • The plant season

  • Plant hardiness

From there, all of this data is used to determine the “growability” of certain plants across the continental US. By understanding your own planting zone, you’re able to have a better relationship with your plants, knowing which ones can thrive in your environment and which ones are better off elsewhere.

Plant zones can help you consider integral factors like lighting from a whole new perspective. Even though you may think you live in a typically sunny place, your planting zone may reveal that your plants require more lighting or sunlight exposure than you’re currently providing. The same goes for temperature and moisture.

So, what are the types of planting zones, and what can you grow within them?

The Types of Zones

As we mentioned, there are currently 13 planting zones across the US, each zone producing slightly different environmental results. However, for clarity’s sake, we’ve bunched each zone by three to help you give you a good idea as to what you can expect from these planting zones.

Zones 1-3

Planting zones 1-3 are going to be the coldest zones in the United States. Primarily, these planting zones are found throughout Alaska, and most plants are not going to be fit to grow in -50℉ weather. However, there still are some types of foliage that thrive in these extreme conditions.

Typically, because these zones aren’t exposed to much light and are often afflicted by freezing temperatures, you can rely on growing only drought-friendly and cold-tolerant crops. These will be vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and kale, as well as fruit trees like Fall Red apple and Pembina plum. Whatever you’re trying to grow in these zones, make sure your plants are hardy enough to survive such harsh climates.

Zones 4-6

Warming up just a little bit are zones 4-6. Planting zone 4 is still considered quite cold, with an average temperature of between -30 to -20℉. Zones 4 and 5 will be found across Alaska and the Northern US, where you’re used to harsh winters and darker, longer days.

Zone 6, however, reaches average daily temperatures of 0℉, and can be found all across the country. This zone tends to produce cool, mild temperatures and extended gardening seasons that are perfect for all sorts of fruits and vegetables. While some zones experience just a few seasons and aren’t subject to much weather variation, that isn’t the case for zone 6: here, growers will experience all four seasons-- something that can be extremely helpful for harvest.

Zones 7-10

Zones 7-10 are quite a bit sunnier and warmer than the previous zones. Here, the average daily temperatures are out of the negatives and plants are exposed to much more lighting than they would elsewhere. These zones bring quite hot summers, which is beneficial for some types of sun-tolerant plants.

However, as the zones increase in number, so does their daily temperature and sun exposure. Just as too little heat can be harmful for plants, so can too much. Too much sun or light exposure can drastically harm your plants, so you must be prepared for hotter, more extreme summers living in the areas, and prepare your crops accordingly. Here, you definitely won’t need the same lighting setup as you would in Zone 3.

Zones 11-13

As you can imagine, the temperatures in zones 11-13 are the highest in the country. These tend to be more tropical climates like what you’d find in Hawaii, Florida, or Puerto Rico. Plants in these zones are going to be used to mass amounts of sunlight, hot temperatures, and moist atmospheres. Growers have to rely on strict lighting control in order to prevent plants from getting burnt or dried out, turning to complicated shading structures and cooling devices.

There are a handful of fruits, vegetables, and herbs that can grow in these zones, but they are going to be some of the hardiest of the bunch, alongside those plants in zones 1-3. Plants in these zones must be heat-tolerant, otherwise, they will not survive in such harsh climates.

Finding Your Ideal Planting Zone

No matter where you live in the US, whether it be in some of the coldest regions or the hottest, cultivation is more than possible. However, if you’re hoping to grow specific plants that can only thrive in certain environments, always take the time to see what planting zone would best for those plants, and if your zone meets those needs. If not, you’re going to have to be even more diligent to provide your crops with what they need to survive.

Luna Cultivation understands the importance of factors like lighting, temperature, and moisture on any type of grow operation. That’s exactly why we believe it’s important for growers to understand the planting zone they’re in, and what kind of botany is meant for where you live. Once you know this information, perfect plant cultivation comes even easier than ever before.

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