What Zone am I?

jimnoakDecember 4, 2006

The common books and USDA maps put me at zone 5B but the Garden Web says I am zone 6. What gives? My area code is 62568.

Lately I think I am in zone 3 since an ice storm took down 50% of the trees in this little southern Illinois fart of a town with once beautiful HUGE trees, and left me and the wife without electricty for 3 days and nights. Others may have to wait another week before they have power restored. The entire county has been designated a disastaer area, so zone 6 suddenly seems a bit high to me.

Of course my patience may be running a bit thin lately, due to living in a state freezing and darkenss during an emergency. Zone 6? I don't think so. The zone maps seem to disagree and I'm wondering why all zone maps don't agree.

I reckon it's sorta like the teachers I had decades ago who disagreed. Some thought I was very smart while others suggested I should just go to jail as a boy and get it over with. I'm now 58 and never went to jail, but indeed I must not be very smart. I don't even know fo sho what zone I am in!

Guess it doesn't matter much if you are in a warmer zone and God sends in an ice storm that snaps or cripples every tree in town. If I am in fact in zone 6, that isn't going to put the trees back up again.

I don't really care too much I guess, because I'm going to plant whatever I like and then nurse it along on the "edge" of the borderline of zone 5 or 6. I forget WHY I ever moved here back in 1988 from Irivine, California where I could grow anything I wanted and have an unheated greenhouse.

Guess I just came back home to live a bit too far North of where I grew up in Illinois way down by Kentucky.

Anyway I'd like to know once and for all what exact zone I am in, and I'd appreciate any help you people can offer.


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You are in zone ~6a. Ice forms at +32F... Zone three has an average winter minimum of -30F to -40F. I don't see what makes you think you are in zone 3, if you are being serious.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 2:27PM
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With a little global warming, which is not evident down here in SW Missouri at the moment either, I'd say you're in zone 6a. That sounds so much nicer than 5b. lol Your temps would have to dip below minus 10 to push you into zone 5 I think. Have they gotten that low since you've lived there? Ours get that low occasionally (maybe once a decade) but don't stay there long, thank goodness. I push my zone with perennials but not with trees and shrubs, unless they would look good after getting frozen back to the ground once every 10 years when we have record setting weather. Crape Myrtle or Nandina will recover after getting frozen back so I have both of those. But I sure wouldn't order an expensive tree that is only hardy to zone six. I have a few perennials that are only hardy to zone 7 so I know I may have to replace those after a cold winter, maybe this one. : (

I looked up the record low once for my city and it was 39 below even though I'm in zone six. Weird stuff happens. What zone you're in depends on how far back they go to collect the averages.

We had a few days warning before that ice/snow storm hit and I prepared by buying an extra gallon of milk and that's it. We waited until Thursday afternoon to start looking for an alternative source of heat so we did a lot of calling and driving around. Everyone was sold out. Finally found a kerosene heater. Lowe's had ordered a special shipment that came in late Thursday but had to do a lot of searching to find someplace that wasn't out of kerosene. By 11pm we had our little kerosene heater going but it said not to leave it running while you're asleep so we shut it off, crawled under six layers of quilts and then the power came back on 30 minutes later. We only went 18 hours without heat, lights, or a stove. We were pretty lucky compared to the hundreds of thousands around the St. Louis area still without power. NEXT time, I will make sure we have flashlights WITH batteries, food that doesn't have to be cooked, kerosene, lamp oil and most importantly batteries for the Gameboy. Kids get pretty bored after 5pm when the house starts growing dark if you don't even have lights to read by. They were sort of having an adventure up to that point.

Glad to hear you made it through and have power now since the temps are dropping again. I've been worried about all the elderly people living in older homes that don't have much insulation. Some people don't have anyone to check on them. But maybe they're older and wiser than we were and were more prepared.

By the way, one of my zone pushing plants is salvia guaranitica which was sent to me by someone living in Southern Illinois and they'd had it for a few years. It's usually rated zone 7.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 9:58AM
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Thank you Kyle and Christie. Regarding my "zone" it's just that the Garden Web puts me in 6a while all other maps or books say I am in 5 or 5b. It really matters not I reckon, since I've been "borderline" all my life.

Christie... I'd love to have a crepe myrtle like I had back when I lived in So Calif, but I have almost NO doubt that any typical winter here would have at least one storm that would take it out. The lowest temp I've ever experienced back here was -22F, but I forget what exceptional year that was. All I know is at the time, I remembered Mark Twain once saying "If my thermometer had been an inch longer, I'd have frozen to death!"

I just wrongly assumed that perhaps the USDA zone map was the gold standard, but like the weather... a zone is unpredictable, and it's a best guess, based on the law of averages.

Glad to hear you found a heater and kerosene. I have two of those heaters and I'm planning to give them away, because it's been many years since I've used them.

I kept our small house somewhat warm, since we have a gas range, and I could light the burners with a match and then boil large pots of water. We also have a gas water heater, so it was easy to go scald ourselves in a tub of hot water before crawling into bed. When our Walgreen's opened, I went and bought us those little book lights, and they soon became an emergency necessity I'd recommend.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 10:58AM
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I know what you mean about what zone - I'm in Southwestern Illinois (in another little fart of a town), and according to the maps we seem to be right on the boundary between 5 and 6. After this season of weather, I have to wonder - global what?

Anyway, could you tell me what plants you have the most luck with in this area? We have a little soil mixed in with the clay here and have amended the vegetable garden soil/clay to the point of being able to support fairly healthy tomato plants after about 6 years. I think I'm going to try container gardening this year.



    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 4:04PM
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You are NOW in zone 6 as you can see I still put 5b but they have just changed the zoneing so I also am in zone 6.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 8:24PM
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