Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chapter 26 - Own Your Zone

"My perennials never seem to make it through the winter. 
Do I have a black thumb instead of a green one?"

Stop and smell
the.... lilies

There is no such thing as a black thumb - you're just choosing the wrong plants for your zone.

There are zone maps in garden centers everywhere so it's easy to find the planting zone for your garden.  You can also check with your local university extension office - even Google a planting zone map.

Once you find your zone, determine the actual temperature of your specific garden.

For example, here at Cheesecake Farms in Virginia, our planting zone (according to the regional map) is zone 7.  This means that our winter temperature doesn't dip below zero.

But, our micro-climate does occasionally dip below zero during the winter.  It all has to do with the topography of the land, the way the winds blow, our tree cover and more. 

So, even though we're technically in zone 7, our gardening area is more like zone 6 where temperatures can go as low as minus 10 degrees.   

We've never gotten to minus 10 but we do get to minus 2 or 3 a couple of times during the winter and that's enough to kill perennials rated to zone 7. 

When we buy perennial plants, we check the tag to make sure that the plants we want are rated to at least zone 6.  This gives us a cushion should the temperature drop below zero.  It's OK to purchase plants rated for colder temperatures - zone 5 in our case, for example.  

We avoid perennials that will freeze but if you just have to have one that will freeze in your zone, put it in a pot and grow it outside during the spring and summer then bring it into the house to winter over.

Pick perennials with a temperature tolerance to your gardening area and you'll turn your black thumb green.

No comments:

Post a Comment