Let’s talk about regions and zones
On FineGardening.com there are two ways to get a feel for which plants can survive where: zones and regions.
The following map shows how Fine gardening divides the regions of North America. This is not to be confused with “zones”. A horticultural “zone” refers to the USDA Hardiness Zones, the standard by which nurseries and breeders categorize their plants to indicate whether a plant is hardy enough to survive in that specific zone climate. “Zone” refers to the expected minimum average temperature of an area. Higher numbered zones stay warmer all year round than lower numbered zones where a harsh winter is expected.
Even so, there may be unusual overlaps between the zones. For example, Kingston, New York is categorized as Zone 6a, but so are parts of Denver, Colorado. Despite the similarities in the lowest average temperatures in these areas, anyone could tell that there are plants in Kingston that thrive and would not enjoy the dry mountain air of Denver.
As a result, Fine gardening found it more sensible to categorize our plant recommendations in regions rather than zones. This is both sensible and useful, as a plant that grows naturally in one area of the country can actually be invasive in another part. Whenever possible, we’ve included “invasive warnings” in our articles and plant recommendations to ensure gardeners can make informed decisions. However, regulations and best practices change, so it’s always a good idea to double-check your state’s list of invasive species before deciding on a plant that you are not sure about.
Find your region above, then visit your My Region page for plant recommendations, tips and ideas. To find out which zone you are in, visit the USDA Hardiness Zone Locator Tool.
Which regions do you cover? Which region am I in?
The 13 regions that Fine gardening Covers are sketched on the map. As you can see, some of these regions are very large and some overlap. The boundaries between the regions are probably even more blurred than shown here and do not necessarily follow the national borders. We know that growing conditions and soils can be quite different within a region, but our regional writers try to find plants that are suitable for as many gardeners as possible in their area.
Why wasn’t my region covered in this issue?
Reader surveys repeatedly show that seven regional pages per issue are exactly the right number – six pages are not enough, eight would be too many. Of course, this means that we cannot cover every region in every issue. We try to go through them so that each region is covered at least a couple of times a year.
I’ve read all of the regional pages, not just my own.
Gardeners love to look over each other’s fences to see what’s growing, and the regional sites have the same appeal. It’s fun to see what people on the other side of the country “get away with” with and it’s always worth reading the recommendations for regions with a growing season similar to yours. For example, plants recommended for the Northeast can also be good choices for the Mid-Atlantic or Midwest. So go ahead – read the whole section and learn about some great plants!
Gardeners from the Alaskan coast will find that the Northwest regional side may address some of their gardening concerns. Unfortunately, we don’t cover areas outside of North America. We apologize to gardeners from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and other tropical climates. Nonetheless, all gardens have information on pruning, caring for houseplants, tending and other general gardening work not related to the region, and we invite you to take your time to read.