What are Canada's Hardiness Zones and What Should Gardeners Know About Them?
Did you ever wonder why palm trees grow in Miami but not in Winnipeg? This happens because different plants grow in different climates. Some plants require hot temperatures and high humidity in order to thrive, while other plants require a long, cold, dormant period in order to survive and bloom in springtime.
The relationship between plants and climates has been extensively studied across North America, and in the 1960's a map was created to explore and illustrate which plants are best for different geographical areas.
The different geographical areas are known as "hardiness zones." These zones, which are numbered 0-13, are used by gardeners to help select which plant species to grow in their area. The higher the zone number, the warmer the area.
Today, plant labels and seed packets might include a range of hardiness zones where the species will successfully grow and thrive. For example, Miami is zone 10, and Winnipeg is zone 3. Florida palm trees survive in zones 8-11, so that's why you won't find them in Winnipeg. On the other hand, Tulips (zones 3-7) will thrive in Winnipeg but not in Miami.
Is it possible to grow plants outside of your hardiness zone?
Yes, it's possible. For example, you may find tropical plants like palm trees for sale in Canadian garden centres in spring and summertime. However, gardeners should be aware that those plants will unfortunately die when winter comes, unless you bring them indoors, because they are not hardy enough to survive the snow, ice, and frost.
Some gardeners feel that there is an ethical dilemma surrounding purchasing tropical plants in hardiness zones where they do not belong, but unfortunately, like so many things in life, the gardening industry is not always ethical.
Do you know which Canadian hardiness zone you live in? Learning your hardiness zone is a great way to ensure the plants that you buy will be successful in your garden for many years to come! Take a look at the information here, or study the maps below to find your Hardiness Zone and/or Extreme Minimum Temperature Zone (a modern version which considers climate change).