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USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Posted by HardyPalmFreak 7 (Bronx, NY) (My Page) on
Sat, Sep 24, 11 at 23:06

According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usda_zone) the following cities as of the present have a USDA zone of 7-8:

1) Atlantic City, New Jersey
2) Baltimore, Maryland
3) Charlotte, North Carolina
4) New York City, New York
5) Raleigh, North Carolina
6) Seattle, Washington
7) Washington, D.C.

I've checked the site for almost a year to see if any changes occur for each cites' USDA zone and they have indeed. For starters New York City was at a 6, then a 6-7, and now they have it at 7-8. Same goes for Atlantic City, NJ.At one point this year though Baltimore, MD and Washington. DC had both read zone 8 and then now they are at 7-8. Why do you think there is a fluctuation in zone numbers? Personally I do like that New York City is being considered a zone 7-8, but why the fluctuation? I've done some research on Urban Heat Islands and some of the cities listed above have large urban heat islands that really do effect the climate in those cities. Urban Heat Island to me resemble "microclimates" on steroids.

What are your thought, comments, opinions etc?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I think its wierd. Washington, New York and New Jersey bieng those zones. I think its true, but its wierd. Im going to Shelbyville,Kentucky in a few months,and Im going to be more south than all of the ones that I mentioned. But im only going to be a zone 6. Hopefully its a warm zone 6 but its still zone 6. WA is way up north yet they have the Virginia Beach zone. I just wonder how and why? I do think its true, but kind of hard to think about and wierd. Im happy too though, because Alex has a good zone for tropicals. I wonder how its so warm up there.Is it because NY NY is a big city? Lots of people and cars?


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I dont think NYC deserves a zone 8 status. I think as a whole, we are a pretty solid zone 7 (as much as I do love to make NYC seem warmer than it actually is, Im going to try and keep my bias from clouding my post, lol). Definitely some (maybe a lot) zone 8 microclimates in NYC. I do think zone 7b would be approprate for some locations of NYC (JFK has a simlar record low temperature to many southern cities, and its been a good 10 years since temperatures have been below 5F their). I have seen unprotected Windmill palms survive the winter in NYC if planted young and in a spot where it wont get rained on all winter long (and they are definitely zone 7b palms).

As for the other cities....
I think Seattle definitely falls as a zone 8a-8b coastal and a zone 7 in the outer limits. I have seen street views of seattle with philodendrons planted in front of homes as well as butias and trachys and such. Definitely not a zone 7 climate, but summers are cold and winters are rainy so the tropical plants are much more limited in that zone 8 than in a zone 8 in the south.

Washington used to be have winter lows that were as cold, or even a degree or 2 colder than NYC, but the past few years, the cold air just hasnt been falling the dame way and DC has definitely been seeing a climate that makes it a bit more southern than northern. And I do think it deserves to be a zone 7-8. Baltimore is simliar, maybe a little bit more of a zone 7.

Raleigh is a 7b, maybe 8, maybe 7 depends on the spot.

The low temperatures in Atlantic City are pretty much the same as NYC. What they lose with the heat island here, they gain with the coastal influence there. I think the only soild zone 8 in NJ would probably be the southern barrier island to the Cape May area.

-Alex


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Why Some Cities are much warmer than others at the same latitude.

Hi Hunter! There is a good reason why the zones are like this, so I'll write a little bit about it.

The west coast has a huge coastal influence! The wind blows from the water to the land (onshore) and that means that they rarely get severe cold outbreaks from Canada. Its the same reason why the weather there is cool year round (I wore a sweatshirt in San Diego this past summer and was cold even with that on after sunset, but there are tons of palms there!) San Fransico is about as far north as Washington DC and San Fran is a zone 9 and DC is a zone 7! Thats a huge difference for plants!

The east coast is still mild though because even though the ocean doesnt help a huge amount, it still does help a little. And the cities here are huge. The houses are so close together and there is not a huge amount of forests. Black top streets for miles and nothing but concrete pretty much describes Manhattan and that concrete warms up. Unless a snow storm is really bad, snow takes a very long time to stick to the ground in the city.

Unfortunately where you are going, there is nothing but low hills and mainy flat land all the way north the the arctic. That means that there is nothing stopping the cold air. Mountains help a lot to block some cold, and there arent any mountains in the center of the US, so the cold keeps heading south until it hits the Gulf of Mexico. If there was a large mountain range just north of the great lakes, then I think that most people in the eastern states would probably gain 1/2 a zone, maybe even an entire zone (that would mean Sabal Palmetto weather for NYC and towering Queen palms and Washingtonias for Virginia Beach and south!).

RIght now the water temperature here is in the upper 60s, so you can imagine why it takes such a long time to get a frost here during the fall (we still have at least 6-8 weeks of growing season left unless a very bitter cold front comes).

-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Thank you Alex and Hunter. I do agree with you Alex. In the case for USDA hardiness zones Hunter - latitude doesn't really play a large role in climates. The ocean and prevailing winds greatly affect a zone. Shelbyville,Kentucky happens to be in the interior of the country. So in the winter time land naturally lets go of heat much faster than water (in this case an ocean). Water likes to hold on to warmth and since NYC is at the coast line it is affected by the Atlantic. Cities like Seattle (on the Pacific Northwest luck out with their geologic position, because their prevailing winds are coming from the ocean and not from land. So that really keeps the temps somewhat higher than Northeastern cities. Can you believe that there are some parts on the pan handle of Alaska that are zones 7 and 8! When I saw the map I almost fell to the floor, but it's because of the on shore winds. Whereas cities like NYC have winds that approach from land for the most part of the year.

Thanks again gents!


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

A lot of the zone "debate' (to me) only matters
depending on what you want to plant.
It is simply based on avg(min) lows.

In the case of palm growing,absolute lows matter
for sure but a more useful indicator would be the
amount of time below freezing,mean temps and moisture.

At this point it becomes to complicated as zone 6 in Colorado
or New Mexico is a whole different ball game compared to
zone 6 St.Louis or Detroit.



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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Yep, the water explains it all. The Atlantic Ocean 'bout a mile from my house retains heat better than solid earth. Water temps now right around 70 (which is still warm enough I might add for recreational use, in fact I will probably take my son down to the beach today since I actually see the sun). So, old man Winter takes a little longer to establish himself here. Conversely, it can take a little longer to warm up come Spring because the water needs more time to do so. I don't pay much attention to the zone maps though. Yes, we're a 7 here, but it is certainly not the same 7 as parts south. They don't get the same duration of cold. I treat planting like the weather. I don't look at reports...I step outside. If I need a jacket, so be it. Otherwise, shorts and sandals. If a particular plant works, great, if not, on to something else...


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

The USDA zone only takes the average zone that is collected within a certain time frame(if I remember correctly?). The problem with that is what if a place is having a warm streak or a cold streak during the time they took the averages? So the zones shifting may be do to that and/or climate change too.
Zones are just helpful guidlines that help up to a point on what you can grow. The zones also dont take into account how much heat a climate has, how often it freezes and when it does does it always rise above freezing in the morning? Not to mention a bunch of other things that contribute to a plants survival or death. Like mentioned above, each area even if they have the same zone will be the same yet different from one another.
If you have something you want to try, why not test it out? who knows what can happen :)

- US_Marine


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Vancouver, BC Canada, is also a zone 8. There are palm trees growing all over Victoria and Vancouver, BC. This is the ocean influence. Mind you, their zone 8, is a much different zone 8 than say, Va Beach, or Charleston, SC. Zones vary fairly widely. I do believe this was attempted to be addressed a while ago by the a/b split of zones. Anyway places like Seattle, Vancouver, BC while zone 8, often never get very hot, and if / when they do its usually for very brief periods. Va Beach / Charleston SC get very hot for a very extended period of time comparatively. However the the winter time difference between Charelston, SC and Va Beach are notable. This also is where climate classifaction (Koppen) comes into play. Seattle / Vancouver's climate classification (their whole climate) is very different from that of Va Beach / Charleston. So while they may be similar enough in temperature to be just about in the same ZONE, they are very DIFFERENT in Climate. Seattle / Vancouver is much more oceananic, where Va Beach / Charleston SC are much more continental influenced. Having those onshore flows on the west coast makes a dramatic difference for them, and they are almost constantly onshore. On the east coast, the flows are much more typically offshore, so the moderating affects of the Ocean are much more restricted to very small areas on the immediate coastline. Ostensibly, when comparing Seattle and Vancouver's zone 8 to a zone 8 in the SE USA, you are comparing apples and oranges. Same with comparing SF's zone 9 to say central Florida's zone 9.

Now as far as the major east coast cities being listed at zone 7/8s, this I think is a bit more debatable. For a geographically more southern city like Washington D.C. 7/8 seems much more appropriate than say for NYC. However urban heat islands also do play a role, and there are many places in all the cities listed that have large microclimates that are about a zone warmer.

This debate has been raging for years, and will never truely be solved. Winters in the east coast cities mentioned are so variable that one year you can have a true zone 7 winter, and another you can have a truly zone 8 winter. I have seen this occur here in Washington D.C. and I know it occurs in other east coast cities as well. I really have no argument listing the east coast cities mentioned as 7/8 due to these facts. I think the thing to keep in mind when a place like D.C. is listed as a 7/8 is that you can have winters that are either 7 or 8, and many times you can have days or stretches of weather in winter that will be more true to a zone 7 or zone 8. This is often evidenced by cold snaps, and by periods of 60s, 70s, and even sometimes low 80s that can and do occur in the dead of winter. While 20,30.40 years ago having 60 degree days in Jan/ Feb may have been largely unheardof in say, D.C., they are fairly commonplace now. I can recall a stretch of winters back in the early 00's where our winters were much more like those of zone 8 than 7. I had sub tropical plants which are usually planted as annuals here such as Madagascar Periwinkle, overwinter in containers outdoors unprotected.

Zones are not really meant to be a hard, it IS this or it is NOT that, they are meant more as a GUIDE and GUIDE only for possible plant possibilities in any particular area.

On a side note, if those Sable Palmettos in DC are the Scottish right temple are still there and growing, this goes to prove the points I have made here even more. If they have survived, then DC really does have some areas which are zone 8, SOME of the time. Nothing is set in stone when it comes to weather / climate. I would not take zone listings as being set in stone either. Honestly, what it really is is just another human attempt to classify / categorise something in nature, and sometimes those things just can not successfully done in terms of putting things in nice neat little compartments where they happily obey and stay. It IS mother nature after all, and in the end she will do what she will regardless of what we want, or how we attemt to classify her. .


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

  • Posted by cfa_li Queens, NY; Zone 7/8 (My Page) on
    Sun, Sep 25, 11 at 17:21

The Past 20 Years (1991-2011) @ JFK:

6b Winters: ZERO

7a Winters: 2
7b Winters: 8

8a Winters: 6
8b Winters: 4

I don't know how they average things into "zones" but NYC (JFK) does seem to sit pretty evenly between Zone 7 & Zone 8 based on the past 20 years. However Mid-Atlantic zone 7/8 locations are different compared to southern zone 7-8's and western zone 7-8's, plants have to contend with a little bit more here.

Interesting that this topic popped up, today I saw 4 Butias/Canaries (couldn't tell the difference since they're small) at a nearby Burger King with a southern exposure, I'm sure they receive extra protection though (they'd die unprotected at that size). I also saw some flowering Crepe Myrtle's (Pink) along the Belt Parkway, they looked recently planted since they have small supports holding them in place.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Cfa_li - today I was at Hicksville, Long Island earlier and saw some Crepe Murtles too of all colors; pink,red, and yellow. They were at a parking lot near Barnes & Noble Across the street from Roosevelt Fields Mall. And they have planted Christmas tree palm clumps there too - though I presume they take those out and bring them in at some point.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

cfa_li, I know exactly what crapes you are taking about on the belt parkway and HardyPalmFreak, I have also seen the Christmas Tree palms out by Roosevelt Fields! Of Couse, the Christmas tree palms dont survive the winters here though.

Definitely some winters are zone 8 here, but some are also a zone 7 and the purpose of zones is to give an idea of what to plant, and I dont see many zone 8 plants here (and the ones that are planted here are kind of a hit or miss). However, I see tons of happy zone 7 plants like crapes, figs, southern mags, and even an occasional windmill palm unprotected.

Novaplantguy, Unfortuantely those sabals in DC died this past spring, but they replaced them with Trachys which I think will do much better!

-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Over the summer they recently took out two large pine trees that were in front of the Museum of Natural History in DC and replaced them with two large windmill palms! I can't wait to head back to DC now.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Pines for Palms, its starting to sound like Florida down in DC! Glad to see palms being introduced a bit more. If winters stay relatively mild, palms might start getting planted a bit more around DC.
-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I dont pay much attention to our zone anymore considering just this last year we had a record low of-15f almost a week of sub zero temps, record snow fall for one day 24", record highs of 117, 40 something days above 100, hottest July on record for the entire country, floods in spring, and worst drough in years.
I realize these are all not the normal but it has tought me to be prepared for the worst and enjoy the best.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Tropical zone 7 - I hope so to. They might even be able to stretch the planting to Baltimore, MD as well.

Mksmth- that is so true. NYC's weather is so erratic to begin with. I agree


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

One of the main reasons is because we have not had very low temps in more than 10 years. Even then, when it occurs its a crisis for NYC. Temps less than 5-10 in NYC are rare. Now outlaying areas like Northen NJ and Westchester drop to -5 -0 more often.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I personally think the parks services here in NY should start planting needle palms and more yucca rotratas and yucca recurvifolias too! They don't know what they are missing.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I think the debate really lies in whether you believe in the 1990 USDA Hardiness is still valid with averages based on the 1940s through the 80s, or believe in one of the more recent updates by AHS and Arbor Day in 2003 and 2006 respectively.

I honestly believe that the 1990 USDA map is out of date and the updates are probably closer to the mark. I read somewhere that USDA didn't acknowledge the updates for fear of appearing to embrace Global Warming Theories or giving the wrong impression to gardeners who might buy plants too tender for their "new" zone.

The important thing to remember is that the zones are based on the annual extreme minimum temperatures over many years and then an average low is calculated. One or two freak record low temps won't skew the cumulative average or suddenly change your zone. It may kill off a lot of your prized palms in zone 7 or 8, but it won't change your zone.

If you look at any of the North American planting zones, colder zones dip much deeper into the south central, pretty much mimicking those nasty Arctic cold fronts diving down between the Rockies and Appalachians. That's why cities like OK City, Dallas, Memphis and Birmingham often will see more extreme cold than the Northeast Corridor hugging close to the seaboard. The beach resorts and a few miles in benefit from the ocean's moderating effects, but not nearly as much as our west coast beach cousins. There, no continental polar winter weather exists. The maritime polar fronts aren't as cold or deep reaching.

To quote a meteorology/climatology professor I had in college, "there is a one word reason why we have the weather we have: Canada."


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RE: USDA Zone Debate...continued.

There are great illustrations and history of our changing zones on Bills Garden Page.

http://www.garden.bsewall.com/topics/hardiness/history.html

Plus alternatives including the AHS and Arbor Day updates to the 1990 USDA map.

http://www.garden.bsewall.com/topics/hardiness/alternates.html

And a comparison between 1990 USDA and 2006 Arbor Day Update.

http://www.arborday.org/media/mapchanges.cfm

Some of the most informative maps I've seen. I think the bottom line is to use them as a general guide, not written in stone. We are the ones who know our own area best and those great micro climates we have in our gardens. Go ahead, Zone push, protect tender plants, we all do. It's part of the fun of gardening and having hardy varieties. Just be real with yourself as to what is impossible to grow in the ground unprotected (zone denial).


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Yeah, palms, esp windmills are becoming more and more frequent in the D.C. metro area. I have a Sabal Minor in the yard thats 2 years old, there is a car wash up the street that has 4 15+ foot tall windmills that are now 2 years old (have been there 2 years and get protected in winter by being tubed and lit up) and there are quite a few homes that have windmill palms in their yards now. Some houses have several of them and look quite tropical.

I personally think the 1990 map is outdated as well. I tend to lean towards the 2003 map. I think the 7/8 designation for the D.C. metro area is fairly correct. Not set in stone by any means, but over the last 20 years there have been winters that were about zone 8. The 20 years prior to that there were hardly any.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Its an interesting debate and as Nova says, the zones are but a guide.

Taking a look at DC and NYC, two cities I have lived in, I would agree they are both Zone 7. DC is a slightly warmer Zone 7. I know that from all my trips home at Easter or Spring Break. Around Southern NJ, you would start to see buds on the trees which were still absent in New York City. By the time I arrived in DC, the buds were small leaves.

As for them being Zone 8, I cannot agree. My own standard for Zone 8 is whether or not you can grow a Butia largely without protection. You cannot in DC or NYC. Indeed you cannot until VA Beach. Maybe you can in Chincoteague. Zone 8, to me, means semi-subtropical. If you want Zone 8, move to Zone 8. :)

No matter. If I lived in Zone 8, 9, or 10, I would probably try to make it look like New Hampshire.

Not a sermon, just some thoughts. I could be wrong.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I spoke a bit out of line above when I said the 1990 USDA map was based on data going back to the 1940s. After rereading the info, it said the 1990 map was a complete overhaul and only used data from a 16 year period from the 70s and 80s. And the revisions also are based on averages from less than a 20 year period. I don't know why in this day and age of computer mapping and automatic weather reporting why updates can be done every 5 years and posted on reliable web sites. Personally I think a 30 year (to as much as 50 year) average would be better to negate freakish extreme mild or extreme cold winters and give a better picture. Again, the zone maps are primarily used as a guide.

Sunset magazine planting zones are very interesting because the consider things like day time heating, humidity, annual rainfall, etc. I also find the heating days (annual number of days above 86F), which really shows a radical difference between east and west coast zones (Seattle zone 8 vs Myrtle Beach zone 8). On that map our Delaware Beaches are more similar to VB and Outter Banks, than NNJ and NYC, which have less days above 86 or say DC, Richmond or Raleigh which have more days above 86 because they don't have the moderating effect of the ocean. All very interesting to us weather geeks and zone pushers.

Sorry we can push Hunter into a zone 7!


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I agree jacklord, the Blooming time in DC is almost exactly a 1 1/2 weeks to 2 weeks earlier than in NYC. But I think part of that has to do with the ocean keeping us a little cooler and cloudier in the spring than DC which is more inland. The leaves stay on the trees here just as long as they stay on in DC because falls are definitely moderated here (the 5 nights were nearly 70F).

There is a sunset zone map for the east coast also. Im a zone 32 I think which includes DC and Philly and has a average low temperature of 30F to 20F and a growing season from Late March to Early November.

-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I spoke a bit out of line above when I said the 1990 USDA map was based on data going back to the 1940s. After rereading the info, it said the 1990 map was a complete overhaul and only used data from a 16 year period from the 70s and 80s. And the revisions also are based on averages from less than a 20 year period. I don't know why in this day and age of computer mapping and automatic weather reporting why updates can be done every 5 years and posted on reliable web sites. Personally I think a 30 year (to as much as 50 year) average would be better to negate freakish extreme mild or extreme cold winters and give a better picture. Again, the zone maps are primarily used as a guide.

Sunset magazine planting zones are very interesting because the consider things like day time heating, humidity, annual rainfall, etc. I also find the heating days (annual number of days above 86F), which really shows a radical difference between east and west coast zones (Seattle zone 8 vs Myrtle Beach zone 8). On that map our Delaware Beaches are more similar to VB and Outter Banks, than NNJ and NYC, which have less days above 86 or say DC, Richmond or Raleigh which have more days above 86 because they don't have the moderating effect of the ocean. All very interesting to us weather geeks and zone pushers.

Sorry we can push Hunter into a zone 7!


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I just ordered a Mazari Palm, Sabal Palmetto, and Mediterranean Fan palm from plantdelights. com. Yipeeeeee!!!! I can't wait for their arrival!


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

@wetsuiter: What do you mean? I could try and zone-push in Kentucky to zone 7?


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Hunter, you can zone push at least to a zone 8 if you give your palms protection. My livistonia is a zone 8b-9a plant and it survived a true zone 7b winter last year with the usual protection. Just because you live in a zone 6, doesnt mean you only have to plant things that can survive a zone 6, but I would try to plant a lot of zone 6 plants to make things a little easier.
-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Hunter, I meant to say: It's a shame we can't make your Kentucky zone a 7 or 8 for you, so it wouldn't be as challenging. Alex it right, with proper care and winter protection, you can grow a lot of interesting plants that normally live a zone or two south.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

HardyPalmFreak

Any plans to plant your new palms?


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

  • Posted by cfa_li Queens, NY; Zone 7/8 (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 30, 11 at 13:33

I really have to get a Trachy or 2 + Filabusta seeds before the weather gets cooler. I must be the only palm enthusiast that has no palms (and has never had any). Actually seeing Trachy's here thriving....(well alive) in mid winter offer enough hope, they won't be outside though unless it's above freezing.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

JimHardy,

Since they are small palm specimens I am only going to pot them up and leave them inside until next Spring. When I have acres of property one day then I will plant them in the ground. Can't wait! I will post pictures when I get them.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Good-look forward to seeing them.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I think for me, my biggest problem is our east coast average rainfall. Since I plant more cacti and agaves than palms. Most of my palms are close to my house which provides some protection. My succulents need more than just winter protection they have to have great drainage and planted above grade to keep the roots from rotting.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

The whole system of zones is/can be completely flawed when applied to palms.

I have seen it on many occasions in the 80s and 90s here
when just 200 miles north in a"Warmer zone" it is in the 40s still.

This system does not take into account GDD which is a bigger
factor in growth and recovery than "zone"



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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Jimhardy,

What is GDD?

Chad,

I so agree with you. New York City has received over 60" of rain this year so far. Making it the 11th rainiest ever. What I dont get is that Windmill Palms are from the Himalayas, which means that they should be used to the rain. However, I guess too much is still too bad.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

But....keep in mind...the distribution of precip is VERY different in Asia compared to eastern North America. In much of Asia, most of that heavy precip falls in summer with the monsoon--winters are MUCH drier than in North America. In Eastern, N. America precip is relatively heavily, and evenly distributed throughout the year. But regarding the issue of zone hardiness, it should be used as a general guide.--It does not take into consideration a number of other factors (heat zones, annual precip and its seasonal distribution (or lack thereof), day length, number of sunny days, etc..) Add to it, these zones will be changing within our lifetimes due to that, big, fat elephant in the room...climate change (a.k.a. global warming).


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Soil temps and(as mentioned)moisture/rainfall also
play prominent roles...one good example of how moisture
effects palms survival is that in the Southwest,some Washys
(mostly/entirely)Filifera have recovered from low temps
of at least -16F,that would be virtually impossible in the east/southeast.

Also(as was mentioned)in the case of Trachys,most of the
rainfall(and heavy at that)falls during the summer,winters
are usually dry and sunny and/but in the case of T.Takil(up to 8300'
elevation) even though up to 5' of snow can fall in winter
it usually melts quickly,at least off the palms.
I would love to see Takil growing in it's native habitat
covered in heavy snow-that would be quite a sight!



Here is a link that might be useful: GDD


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Ahh this is so interesting how so many variables play a role when it comes to what zone you are in and what palms you can grow.

Does anyone think that the zones will continue moving up further north up the eastern seaboard?


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I dont think the zones will move up that much further in the near future. I think zone maps will get more detailed in the future so cities and coastal areas will probably be a zone higher, and some more rural areas might even go a zone down. I definitely think there are some areas of eastern Long Island that are not more than a zone 6b, but once you get around JFK, I would consider it a very soild zone 7a, maybe zone 7b. Central park is not more than a zone 7a, but Manhattan Island might be a zone 7b (cant say for sure since there really are not any weather stations in lower manhattan that aren't on top of 60 story tall rooftops!)

-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

All the surprises on the 'climate change' front seem to be related to changes occurring much faster than had been expected--especially in the highest latitudes. Not sure how this will affect growth zones for palms in the near future though, because one of the weird changes that's been observed in recent years, is a relatively mild arctic winter, but equally abnormal winter cold in subtropical latitudes (Texas, Florida, etc.). Things still seem to be in great flux--likely to be a stressful state for palms AND our native vegetation.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

This past Sunday was "Coast Day" at the local campus of the University of Delaware (College of Marine Studies)--an expo of environmental organizations, educators, ocean resources, seafood, marine life, boating, etc. I went to an interesting lecture on weather here in the First State (and the mid Atlantic) presented by a UD professor of Meteorology and Climatology. It was quite interesting to see the trends and how erratic the weather charts are.

As most of us in this region realize, the weather can be quite inconsistent around what the monthly, seasonal or yearly averages are supposed to be. One summer hotter than normal. One year less rain than normal. One winter snowier than normal followed by one with less than normal snow fall. This is often way we are caught off guard in our gardens, especially in the winters.

He did show charts for seasonal temperatures and precipitation that told an interesting story. While there have been many ups and downs for the past century, the overall temperature trend is up (+.16 degrees per decade) and the overall precipitation is slightly down. While we may think that the past two winters have been bad in the Mid Atlantic/ Northeast, they are still milder and had less winter precip compared to the first half of the 20th century.

Another interesting graph showed decade-long oscillations between mild winters and more severe winters over that past century. This North Atlantic Oscillation is influenced by a semi-permanent Low Pressure System near Iceland and a semi-permanent High Pressure System near the Azores (I may have them reversed, but you get the idea). The past two winters may indicate a reversing of the decade-long mild winter trend and the start of a decade long trend of colder winters. Not any prediction that us zone pushers want to hear! Regardless of these decade oscillations and erratic years, the overall-trend he presented is for warmer/dryer summers and milder winters over the past 100+ years.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

That's very interesting! My grand mother keeps telling me that the winter storms we get now are nothing compared to the ones that she got in the 50s and 60s. There was more snow and colder winters according to her here in NYC. I guess we must wait and see how this winter plays out.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Is there a "zone" debate?

What usage to I get out of the zone maps 0%
entertainment at best.
if I want to know if something will survive in my area
the zone map is not the answer.

My Sequoia has seen temps as low as -18F and been fine,
inside of a Rose cone.
Exposed single digits with high winds do it harm.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Wetsuiter, last winter was one of the snowiest ever in the NYC Metro area. (Cold was persistent but not extreme--still much much colder than the previous year). I grew up with the same stories of the deep snow blizzards of the early 60's--but we had those same storms (more than one) in the winter of 2010-11. Then there were the non-snow, "nor'icanes" as I call them. I don't believe that our precip will be declining in a warming world--if recent history is any clue. Average precip seems much higher on average but its distribution is highly skewed with periods of drought alternating with record flooding. My average precip is 45 inches for the year and we've already seen over 60 inches due to storms from January through September.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Yes, I was up there for the big post-Christmas blizzard. Pretty impressive. Down here, it was only 9" that was slush by the time I got home. The rest of the winter was pretty ho-hum compared to you. Winter '10 gave us the deepest snow fall recorded here: 21" followed 3 days later by 10" more. My 60 something neighbor who grew up on this street had never experienced snow like that. Hopefully not again, either!

When I was a kid growing up in suburban Philly, I remember snow on the ground all winter, deep blizzards, walking to school when it was below zero, and ice scaring on local ponds without any fear of thin ice. It's just not like that there now.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

As promised here are my new palms that I mentioned above.

Mazari Palm
DSC06165

Sabal Palmetto (Cabbage Palmetto) grown from a seed of a palm in N.C.
DSC06166

DSC06167

Mediterranean Fan Palm var. Cerifera
DSC06168

DSC06169

Here are my other palms that I've had for a while now....

Wagnerianus
DSC06170

Mexican Fan palm
DSC06171


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

They all look really great!

Nice choices/collection there.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Nice palms! I especially like the Mazari palm!
-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Thank you very much!

Does anyone know what the exact hardiness of the Mazari palm is?


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

They need to be kept VERY dry in winter and
are very root sensitive IME,if you plant it out
do it in June or so,when the soil is warm.

Maybe hardy to 10F but there are so many factors
involved in hardiness...I wouldn't get caught up in
the numbers.



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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Mazari palms are really only cold hardy in desert like conditions. Outside of the desert, they are probably zone 8b palms at best. Keep it very dry in the winter, it will probably need overhead protection all its life during the winter months on the east coast, so when its older a cheap, removable little celing over it might come in handy.
-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

So i guess I should refrain from watering it during the winter months. Not as much as I would in the Summer right? How often during the winter should it get watered?


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I would water it when dry (I guess once a week) and keep it by a warm and sunny window. Once established, they can be dry for much longer periods, but I wouldnt dry it out too much until it gets a bit more size.
Good luck!
-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I had never heard of Mazari palms, so I did some research. Seems like the jury is out on the true hardiness of this palm. Some sites claim It's hardy to -5 F in 6b, others say 7b, while others say 8. Sites selling these palms are more generous (6b) while the information sites are more conservative with the hardiness. Gardner's comments/ reviews are equally mixed; many are negative.

It sure is a beautiful bushy palm when mature and if anyone can make it flourish, Jim will.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Thanks wetsuiter

I have to admit after 3 tries I have given up on this one.
Mine made it through winter last year but spring rainfall finished it.

If your growing this inside I wouldn't worry to much about
watering it,keep it on the dry side/as much sun as possible.

This is not a great houseplant,like Bizzy's and Sabals...
they prefer outdoor life.



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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Thank you for all of your advice! I will keep my Mazari somewhat dry in the winter and hot in the summer.

Today in NYC it is 84 degrees! Guess fall is late....so much for this zone debate hahahaha.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I have heard of these palms sulking in less abused with heat.

One story I recall reading years ago off the net was about
a guy in Cali that went on vacation and left his greenhouse
to it's own devices so to speak.

Most everything in there was roasted from 120F+ temps,
except the Mazari which actually flourished and put out tons
of new growth!


One thing you can do with zone maps is print thousands of
copies and use them to insulate your palms during winter-LOL


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I think for most gardeners (or at least new gardeners) use the zone maps for a starting point. Most gardeners accept what nature tells them about what will grow and what won't in their area. Most don't do the heroics or life support systems that some of you Midwest and far north gardeners do. Plants not hardy enough for their zones simply will die or slowly fade away after a few harsh winters. Don't get me wrong, I'm in total awe of the winterizing wraps, greenhouses, tents, lights, heaters etc that some of our members come up with each winter. Not for me. I use the zones to give me a baseline of what to try outdoors and what not to try. Living in borderline 8a, I know a zone 9 palm wouldn't survive unprotected here. Might I try an 8b palm and give it a blanket on a chilly night, you bet.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

When I retire I'm just going to move to zone 9 or 10 hahahaha! This hobby and love for these plants has truly changed my life. It supplies me with a natural high unlike any other. As for USDA zones I'm presently in zone 7 and so far the needle palm has done really well here unprotected all together. I have also seen a windmill palm in the Bronx Botanical Gardens that has also survived brutal winters. It is also not protected and is located in a place where the sun shines all day long. As for sabal minors, haven't seen any around these parts. I have to drive to south New Jersey to see some real action. If you notice on the new USDA maps the extreme southern tip of Jersey is a zone 8 now. Cape May to be exact. I just find it very interesting that they chose this little spot on the southern tip of Jersey. I've done some research and it so happens that Cape May is a small peninsula and that helps it a great deal when it comes to a possible zone 8 location. Temps are higher than other parts of Jersey being that it sticks out into the ocean and in the summer has lower temps than the surrounding major cities of New Jersey. I did find out of trachys living and thriving on the west coast of Cape May by sunset beach. I might go down and investigate. Even coastal areas of the Delmarva peninsula are shaded in for zone 8 and so are little blobs called Washingtn, DC and Baltimore.


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Heres a pic

http://media.photobucket.com/image/usda map/United_Caps_Gardenguy/Wash-BaltZoneMap.jpg


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I'm right across from Cape May in Delaware. Both AHS and Arbor Day updates place us in zone 8, but only AHS update has eastern Cape May County in 8. But you'll also see that zone 8 really clings to the coast. Unlike NY, NJ and NC, we don't have barrier islands. Locally, just being on the other side of Del Rte 1, the coastal highway, puts you in a different climate--much colder on a winter night and no cooling sea breeze in the summer.

Personally, I really like the AHS update, since it really allows you to zoom in on those urban zone 8 hot spots like Baltimore and DC. Also if you really zoom in (like 400%) on NC Outter Banks you can see that they are zone 9, up to about the Causeway to Manteo.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Just wanted to mention that I saw a really nice sized Trachy today near my area (probably about as tall as I am, but a very very fat trunk) so Im going to see how the owners of the palm decide to protect it. I know its been in its current spot for several years.

And I defintiely think anywhere in Cape Hatteras and south on the Outer Banks is a zone 9. Flowering agaves and Date Palms are all grown on the southern part of the Outer Banks, but a major limiting factor to growing other zone 9 plants is the very sandy soil and very windy and salty conditions on the Outer Banks. Large trees in general are pretty rare in cape hatteras because of the ocean conditions.

If the wind blew onshore here all the time like it does on the west coast, I would be a zone 9 easily, but because it doesnt, I have to accept being in a zone 7.
-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Hardypalmfreak

I totally agree about growing cold hardy palms...
I used to really dread winter but now I have my little
palms to keep me company!

Something about the challenge of bringing these through
winter that is so enjoyable.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

wetsuiter,
Can you post a link to the map that you can zoom in on. I tried looking it up but can't seem to find it. Thanks!


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

http://www.ahs.org/publications/the_ameican_gardener/pdf/0305/USDA_Map_pp_30-35.pdf&ved=0CBQQFjAA&usg=AFQjCNGb9aHUMdOixsLLDnEyasnlxhvZTA

Try that. It's actually a 4 pg. PDF Download with the map on the last two pages. It's called the AHS 2003 draft update to the 1990 USDA Hardiness Map. It was never certified by USDA for various conspiracy theories.

I just read on AHS website that USDA is finally working on a new map using enhanced computer cartographic programs, bringing in more data from more weather stations and longer period of time. Lord knows its long overdue.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Thank you


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New USDA map

Does anyone know when the USDA will release a new map?


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

It was suppose to be 2010 or 2011, or at least thats what I heard, but I guess not. I definitely think its time for a new map to come out considering its been almost 20 years!

We are technically a borderline zone 7a/6b according to that old map, but we havent had a single zone 6b winter since the mid 90s more than 15 years ago. JFK airport has never had anything less than a zone 6b winter in its recorded history which is something similar to cities in the south. So I think its safe to say that NYC is at least a zone 7a. I wouldnt go as far to say a zone 7b as a whole but some parts of the city definitely are 7b (not sure if they would be large enough to ever appear on an updated map though).

Florida seems to need a lot of detailing done with its zones. Tampa is a zone 9b according to the old map, but there are some coastal areas that are a zone 10a and some inland areas that are probably more of a zone 9a. Some parts of Orlando can definitely pull off a zone 10 since a few coconut palms actually did survive the record breaking cold 2 winters ago. I think that some parts of southwestern florida may also be a zone 10b (right now only the Miami area is a zone 10b and the keys are the only zone 11 in the state).

-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I would also like to see more detailing. When it comes to certain metro areas like Baltimore, Washington, d.c., and coastal New Jersey.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I agree, a Zone 6 in St. Louis, MO gets much colder in the winter than Detroit, Michigan which is north. By contrast, there summers get the muggies for most of the summer, whereas in Detroit, it comes for a week or two at a time and then goes away for another weeks, then returns. We at least get a break from it.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

StL-may ultimately get colder in winter but the "palm" season
is a whole lot longer down there.

Find more about Weather in Detroit, MI
Click for weather forecast

Find more about Weather in Saint Louis, MO
Click for weather forecast

Washys would love Stl summer weather too-(-:


Find more about Weather in Fairfield, IA
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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I live in the suburbs of Washington, DC and I have been growing a windmill palm completely unprotected since 2006. I have never had any defoliation or anything to that nature. I consider my area to be more in the zone of 7a/b but DC proper is certainly a solid zone 8. I saw crape myrtles blooming in late Nov/early Dec in protected areas. Sabal minors have been naturalization around the Air and Space Museum as well.

NYC on the otherhand is certainly not zone 8. This weekend, the forecast low for NYC on Sunday night is 13. DC(by the river) has a low of around 26. Given that it is the same cold front, it seems like quite a difference.

In fact, the coldest it has been in DC is 17 degrees (http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KDCA/2011/11/1/CustomHistory.html?dayend=12&monthend=1&yearend=2012&req_city=NA&req_state=NA&req_statename=NA)

We had a significant cold front earlier this year and our low this year matches the low of Tallahassee, FL (18) earlier this year. http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KTLH/2011/11/12/CustomHistory.html?dayend=12&monthend=1&yearend=2012&req_city=NA&req_state=NA&req_statename=NA


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

  • Posted by cfa_li z7/8 Queens NY (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 12, 12 at 10:53

^^^^The forecasted low for Sunday night is 20F, nowhere near 13.

The lowest I went so far this winter was 14F, which is a zone 8a temperature. I believe that was our only low in the teens. NYC is 200 miles northeast of D.C. so a difference of a few degrees is to be expected even though it's not always the case. I wouldn't call NYC solidly zone 8 nor would I call it solidly zone 7, it's in the middle.

On an unrelated note I see far more trunking yucca than hardy palms, I wonder why that is.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

"On an unrelated note I see far more trunking yucca than hardy palms, I wonder why that is."

All the palms are probably covered.(-:


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=40.734770989672405&lon=-73.9984130859375&site=okx&unit=0&lg=en&FcstType=text

http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=38.872859384572244&lon=-77.01484680175781&site=lwx&unit=0&lg=en&FcstType=text

I used the NWS for both forecasts. Sunday night it is 15 for NYC and 26 for DC. Both are as local as you can get.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I do believe that Washington DC has slightly better winters for palms than NYC (I say slightly because usually low temperatures only differ by a few degrees, however we all know that a small difference in low temperatures can mean a lot for plants).

However, you have to see the big picture as well (Data from http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/online/ccd/extremelow.html) ....

Washington Dulles Airport has a record low temperature of -18F (a zone 5a winter) which was set back in 1893.

John F. Kennedy airport's record low is only -2F (barely a zone 6b winter).

However, in fairness, Washington National Airport (much closer to the city center and therefore warmer) has a low temperature of -5F which is still colder than JFK, but it is much warmer than Dulles.

So in conclusion, I think that NYC has some good microclimates that are very close to being just as warm as DC. I did not see a very extreme change in landscape when I went to DC. DC does have many more palms growing without protection than NYC does, but I can still name a few places here where you can see unprotected windmill palms and I have seen pindo palms at large sizes here (given protection). And Crape Myrtles are becoming extremely abundant as street trees and are actually one of only about 50 species of trees that are allowed to be planted as street trees so plants that are symbols of the south are also common here (maybe thanks to DC since the National Gardens in DC is really what introduced Crape Myrtles to the Northern Mid Atantlic Region).

So far I got down to 12F in my yard where my weather station is and my weather station is in the coldest microclimate that my yard has (very exposed on all sides with a white wooden deck that does not absorb any heat).

-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

There is a windmill palm that has been growing at the Bronx Botanical Gardens for a number of years now and has never been protected. There are tons of trunking yuccas all over NYC as well. I've seen many yucca recurvifolia, yucca rostrata, Spanish dagger, and even golden sword. I also think that the "micro climate" plays a big role in NYC when planting palms like the needle palm, windmill palm, and sabal minor. I've seen many places where people plant there palms right against south facing walls, which may increase your location by half a zone and in some rare occasions a whole zone. WHO KNOWS. Whatever works for your location.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

The maps (regardless of which one you personally subscribe to) are intended to be a general guideline for gardeners. Anyone can zone push by making greebhouses or using covers and lights. But the zone guidelines are for people who don't zone push or winter protect.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I am in Mid-SC, Orangeburg county, officially Zone 8A. Last winter my deep-country location had ONE night with 8B temps at 16-17F. This winter so far we had ONE night with 22F, the rest were 28F and above with most nights at 30F to 65F. Our climate can be defined as more 8B climate or even 9A. Or even as 9B since at least 95% of all nights are above 25F and very few are actually below 30F. One cold night with temps under 20F for a couple hours does not make it a zone 8, does it? What zone would that be? It would be a "29112" zone, matching the zip code. Why? Because every postal/zip code climate is different just like human faces and animal species vary in every continent, every country, every district every forest, every island, every micro-climate. Sydney Australia is zone 8 yet they got kangaroos, but Oregon or South Carolina does not have kangaroos although they are also mostly zone 8. When you travel to Britain or around the world, you can recognise their faces as distinctively "British" or as distinctively "Chinese" and some Chinese even have "dragon features" in their faces with specifically shaped wider nose at the end and dragon eyes etc. We need to create a much more complex system of botanical zoning so to speak.

So far, we must keep in mind, zone are transitional and we must adjust them at least once every 5-10 years. I would adjust zones every 2 years if possible.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I would not include metropolitan areas heat zones in state wide or countrywide zoning maps when making them and map them separately as micro-climatic zones. Ordinary USDA or whatever hardiness maps should be made by measuring temperatures in unaffected countryside areas. Imagine if a nationwide blackout happens for a week, and airplane traffic is zero, what will happen to the cities and palm trees in them? Therefore the only dependable system is to use rural temperatures for climatic maps. When referring to the current USDA maps, if you don't like to push on zones, go 1/2 or even 1 zone lower and you will be safe for many years to come. Fortunately the climate has been warming up (even if they've been spraying the clouds in the sky to cool us down back into the Ice Age) and now many areas have warmed up 1/2 and even 1 zone up. There is Zone 9 in the most of Southern and Coastal South Carolina and Hilton Head Island has Zone 10 climate actually or a strong 9B. Greenville, SC used to be zone 7B, now it is zone 8, probably pushing for Z8B.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

As much as I would love to say my climate is a z10a or b, sadly all it takes is one night to kill any of those palms here. Some do survive, cold duration isnt very long but all it would take is one cold winter to kill them out right. Even though most days here would be considered z10a/b. However the urban heat island effect etc do create many micro-climates here that are, even during bad freezes they are usually frost free.

But that wouldnt make a climate a zone more than it should be. The zones do have their flaws for sure. But this is how you can tell a climates true zone, you look at what palms and other plants go their no problem, not at the palms or plants growing in protected spots or at the trending lowest temp a area may see. All it may be is a warm cycle, nothing more. The "all time" record low for an area can tell you just how bad it can get. If you see alot of damage on certain plants, but they come back, your climate is marginal at best for those plants. In a true zone those plants would not be damaged on most winters, maybe only a little on cold winters, but should never be killed or severely damaged.

- US_Marine


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Part of the problem with NYC is how long the cold lasts for. If you consistantly get close the the minimum low a palm can support, it will decline.
The NOAA heating degree days is an interesting scale to look at.

All of the data below is from USDA zone 7-8. The only place where people have reliably cultivated palm trees (Norfolk and Raleigh, protected urban DC) have heating degree days at about 4000 or less. I think we place too much emphasis on the zone and not enough on the amount of heat and how long it lasts.

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/online/ccd/nrmhdd.txt

WASHINGTON NAT'L AP, D.C. 4055

NORFOLK, VA 3368

BALTIMORE, MD 4720

RALEIGH, NC 3465

NEW YORK (JFK AP), NY 4947

NEW YORK C.PARK, NY 4754


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

We dont get as warm during the day as DC, but we do still definitely get warm enough for palms to grow.
Plus there are lots of zone 8's in the Pacific Northwest that grow tons of different palms so heat during the winter is not always necessary. The downfall for a lot of plants in Florida during the last cold spell a few weeks ago was that they saw so much mild weather that when the cold came all the new tender growth died because even the most cold tolerant plants have tender new growth.
I agree though, mild winter days are much much better than cold. But I would rather have 50 degree days and then bitter cold for a day than 70 degree days and then bitter cold.
-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I don't doubt that you can grow some species of palm in NYC. I'm just making a point that where I live and where you live (suburbs dc) the zone designation doesnt mean everything; we still need to protect our palm trees.

Good luck with growing palms though. I think we should all be pushing our climate limits. It makes the winters more enjoyable and is a nice touch in the summer.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Every climate is definitely different, even in the same zones. I always consider New York, Philly, Baltimore, and DC to be pretty similar in climate, but DC has always seemed more southern to me in culture and in plants.
I cant imagine not growing palms. I understand why some people dont like protecting palms, but in protected spots I have seen minors and needle palms thrive (I even saw a minor in bloom here this year and mine finally made seeds also this past summer!).
I'll probably always protect my palms. At least if they die I know that I tried my best to keep them living!
-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Without getting into any debate on gardening zones, global warming,...etc., I have to say, that this has probably been one of the warmest winters I can remember in the NYC Metro Area. Despite the current "arctic" air mass over the East, night temps are not brutal and if you look to the extended forecast, we are popping 50F by next week and night lows seem to hover just around freezing point--and this IS the coldest part of the year! Yes, last winter was BRUTAL! It's going to take a while to figure out what the new "normal" is--subarctic cold in Florida and Texas in recent years and record heat in the arctic. Personally, I don't think these gardeing zones have ever been as unreliable as in recent years.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

My new "zone map" will only show to what degree/length of time a bucket of water stays frozen in the shade in a given region.(-;

So you get a little pic of a bucket in your region,if it's full of ice your palms are frozen too-unfortunately my bucket stays frozen to long )-:

I think a better indicator than extreme low temps would be your mean temp....there are many micro-climate areas to the north
that although in a warmer zone technically(than some areas to the south) in regard to minimum temps-they may spend 2 months(avg mean) @ or below freezing during winter!


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As mentioned above^...... zone map doesn't apply to people protecting palms,although it would give an idea how much protection is needed.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Last winter water stayed frozen in shade for most of the winter here (at least a good 4 weeks because temperatures were consistently below average every day for weeks).
Im actually surprised to see ice this winter when I do see it because things just have not been frozen for long periods of time this year. Some mornings you will see puddles lightly frozen (I only saw them completely frozen during that nasty cold spell in early Jan), but during the afternoon everything thaws out with only a few days as an exception. About a week ago, I had some potting soil in the shade and I needed to repot one of my indoor plants, so I went outside to get some soil and it wasnt frozen at all. Im previous years if I needed potting soil from outside for any reason, I would have to drag the soil into my garage to thaw out a little bit!

Some people are worried that a warm winter may mean a cold spring, but last year we had a cold winter and a very cold start to spring as well so I dont think there is any corelation, but I am a little worried that it might be cold this spring.

Personally, I would really like to see maps also showing how deep soil freezes and the number of hours that an area gets below freezng (that would be especially good for areas like Florida that dont go below freezing too often, but every minute that they do get below freezing could be the last minute of a tender platns life).

-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Yea

I was surprised to see ice in buckets on the north side of the house when temps had been in the 50s for a few days.

Think about the accumulative effect on water in plant tissues being exposed to enough cold to keep a bucket frozen.

I think taking a look at the mean temp is also a great tool in determining what protect a palm-etc-needs.

I do uncover during the day for lower temps esp by February when the sun angle is seriously warming the palm enclosures!
Basically by that time upper 20s and sunny will cause to high of temps inside.

On avg 36F(mean) or higher is necessary to totally remove protection for Trachys,Sabals here for minimal damage.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Would be nice to see palms and aligators in NYC. How about coastal Long Island? Do they have palms growing there unprotected? I've seen Sabal palmettos growing in Outer Banks, NC with protection, so anywhere north of NC must be tough for palms to survive unless they are needle palms or windmills.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I usually take the protection off of my palms around mid February, the latest they have had protection on them is the first week of March. So far my palms have had protection on them for a total of 4-5 days this winter. They may have their protection on for much of this week, but I will probably at least turn the lights off in the protection during warmer days.

Neonrider, there definitely are not a large number of palms on Coastal Long Island. Part of the reason may be because not a lot of people live on Coastal Long Island (some of it is park land and some only summer communities). The eastern end of Long Island gets way too cold for palms because the pine barrens and sandy soil makes temperatures drop like a rock at night. Its amazing how much soil and tree types can affect the surrounding climate (lowing night temperatures by 20 degrees sometimes!)
Coastal Long Island definitely has a good climate for Trachys, Sabal minors, and needle palms. Im sure some homes are giving them a try, but for the tropical look, yuccas are almost always the plant people chose (some landscapes around here plant yuccas and palms which is a nice combo).

Virginia Beach is probably the farthest north on the east coast where Sabals will grow well. Some areas north of that along the coast can probably get palmettos go grow as well, but VB has a pretty good density of palms (I guess partially because of all the beachgoers in the area). Sabal Palmettos grow naturally in the Outer Banks and some parts of the outer banks is actually a zone 9, but a very very windy zone 9.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I went by earlier today to check on the trachys at the Bronx Botanical Gardens and was surprised to see that they were covered by minimal protection. The small one had some leaves thrown on it and the large one had a sheet of burlap thrown on it surrounded by four stakes. This is the first time they protect them . Maybe they have someone new running the show there. WHO KNOWS. 65 days left until Spring - no debate about that. Woohoooo!


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Hardypalmfreak

Were those possibly planted last spring?

It may be their first year.

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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

WASHINGTON NAT'L AP, D.C. 4055

NEW YORK (JFK AP), NY 4947

These 2 numbers cannot possibly be accurate.

Washington's temps avg higher in every single month over New York.

No way New York's GDD can be higher.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Jim, those arent growing degree days, those are heating degree days, thats why NYC is higher than DC, DC has less since it gets warmer on average overall than NYC.
-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Jimhardy,

The palms have been there for a number of years now. This may be the first time they are protected. last year they weren't protected at all. Maybe because of last Year's brutal cold blast they didn't want to risk it this year.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

HPF

Any pics of these palm????


Oops!

O.K.Alex

Thanks for clearing that up!(-:

Come to think of it those numbers would probably be to high for GDD anyway (-;


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

When I was a kid, everyone wrapped their fig trees for our 6b winters, but by the 1970s we began having winters with either no snow(which was unheard of) or big snows.

The heat Island effect is strongest at night and prevents temps from bottoming out in extremely over-urbanized coastal regions like New York City. Therefore, when temps have a hard time dropping thru the single digits it boosts the zone. Truthfully, our temps the last 3 years are 8a, but our prolonged-cold(this year the exception), wind, snow still make it unsafe to leave palms uncovered all winter.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Some Yucca Recurvifolias

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Yucca Filamentosa

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Trachycarpus Takil covered in Pine Tree Clippings

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Trachycarpus Fortunei Covered with a blanket of burlap

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Trachycarpus Fortunei back on November 7, 2011

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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Nice pics! Looking forward to seeing an update on those Trachys in the spring. So far this winter is a piece of cake for Trachys, we'll see what February brings. Those yuccas look good too. Last winter's snow made a lot of the older yucca recurvifolias fall.
And whats interesting is that I think some people are starting to get tired of Y. Recurvifolia since I have seen 4 of them get replaced just on my block in the past 3 years. 2 were replaced with knockout roses and the other 2 were taken out when a house was being redone (which is a shame because those 2 were really robust recurvifolias). I like recurvifolia, its invasive, but it looks nice and tropical!
-Alex


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I feel the same about yuccas Alex. They look very tropical especially when they begin to trunk.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I think USDA Hardiness Zone system is imperfect. As some people wrote on here, a Zone 7A in NYC is not the same as Zone 7A in North Carolina. The low temperatures can be the same, but DURATION and FREQUENCY of those low temps can make a big difference on plants. For example, if NC in Z7A gets 2 nights with temps below 10F, then NYC/NJ in Z7A would most likely get many more of such nights with temps below 10F and those night lows in NYC/NJ would most likely last for more hours than in NC. Plus there would be more hot days in NC than in NY. So why don't USDA rework their hardiness zoning system into something more useful. How about splitting each zone into 10 zones, so for example zone 6 would become zone 60 through zone 69 or 61 through 70 and every decimal zone would become a zone on its own. So then an ex-Z7 in NYC would become Z71 while ex-Z7 in NC would become Z77 and so on. Even ex-Z7A in NJ would not be the same as ex-Z7A in NC (North Carolina). Plus they must also include HEAT ZONE coefficient into the creation of new zones. A letter could be added to the zone number, for example: Z71A vs. Z78H would mean that Z71A has more frequent and longer lasting nights with typical low temps, plus it would have less days above 86F and Z78H would have less nights with typical low temps, with shorter duration and more days with over 86F. So all those new zones would count the DURATION & FREQUENCY of low temps and HEAT ZONES (duration and frequency summer highs, which is especially important for many palms, since palms survive cold weather (are/become more hardy) better after being exposed to a hot summer weather year after year) into the establishment of new plant hardiness zones.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

novaplantguy - Charleston, SC is Z9A. Check out the link I provided below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Interactive USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

if I use that map it says I am a zone 6B -5 to 0. I havent seen anything below 15 degrees in almost 5 years which would mean I would be maybe a 7B. I mean they can say your zone this or zone that if you have lived there long enough you should know how cold it usually gets after a few winters. I know it was a old post but if hunter M is still on here I don't live to far away get at me and we can do some trading


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Haven't seen Hunter on in ages. His palms all died (probably from too much attention) and got all discouraged.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Two things: All who live in big city's and have for decades will tell you..low temps are higher then ever. BUT,you still have to know your area. As the classic book "How to lie with statistics" says, both the Catalina Islands AND Palm Springs have a annual mean of 61f!


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

well I am close to where he moved and its a pretty backwoods area figured I could help him out but if he dosen't get on anymore I can't. thats a ruff place hope it didn't get to him


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Miketropic - USDA 2012 Plant Hardiness Map is for 1976-2005. Since then at least 7 years have passed. You could as well be in a zone 7A or 7B, but if you have not seen below 15F in 5 years, so for those 5 years you are in zone 8B. Yet I have no idea where you are as you don't have it on your profile. Where I am in mid-SC it used to be zone 8A close to 7B and now it's 8A close to 8B but judging by the past 3 winters we are having zone 9A/9B here. I'm "afraid" zone 9 has moved to a large part of South Carolina. One night of 22F, then 3 nights of 25F and some 28F, the rest above freezing. This autumn we did not have frost yet. Last year first freeze was in the end of December 2011 and it was about 25F. Yet I remember one night around 2007 when we had 13F for a few hours. And if those artificial contrails in the sky become plenty, that will affect the hardiness zones as well. You are right, if one lives long enough in one place, they know better what zone they are having there.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I live in Kentucky, the northern part. the zone map has it as a 6b and it does get pretty cold here. we have had 25 degrees already a few night. our coldest time is in feb. and we do see some cold days and nights but for the last 5 years the coldest I can remember was 12 degrees one night in march and a zone 6b puts us a 0 thru -5 and that hasent happened. I do wish they would update that map a bit more even though I kind of know what to expect anymore.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

That's the problem with the zone map is that its based on the average lowest annual temp. We can go years without dropping below 20 but history says we've had single digits in the 1980s. If we ever have one of those especially cold blasts no map will save plants that will only survive into the upper teens.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Haha, I love the link that tropicalzone7 has posted (I include it below as well). That's a great Reality Check for most growers. :-) It's like having lion as a pet. Some day you will get eaten by your pet. Some day, and for now, enjoy it. Hopefully that page gets updated every year or every time a new low is registered, although unlikely so in the past years.

Here is a link that might be useful: Your Reality Check


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

Lago, not sure about single digits, but WC/ weather.com is showing -3F as record low for VA Beach in 1985. That would ruin many a garden there.

http://www.weather.com/weather/wxclimatology/monthly/23462


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I think that record was actuallyat Norfolk Intl which is the nearest official airport. Suffice to say it was brutally cold and many a plant must have expired. There are palms in the area that survived through it.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

More likely Oceana NAS, since Norfolk's record was even lower.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

It's hard to tell anymore what zone we all are in. So far we had zone 10A weather in South Carolina. Last winter was zone 9B weather, except one night with 22F (Z9A). What zone are we in? 7A, 7B, 8A, 8B, 9A, 9B, 10A ? No one knows anymore....


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

  • Posted by kinzyjr Lakeland, FL 9a (My Page) on
    Sat, Dec 8, 12 at 21:50

I stay pretty conservative when using zoning. Our record low in Lakeland is 20F. That's a worst case scenario zone 9a.


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RE: USDA Zone Debate (What Do You Think?)

I wouldn't go by the lowest temps that have been happening in recent years. I think thats where part of the problem is with the USDA zones. They only used part of their data. Although they do have a reason behind it, I still think that for the areas that do have more data they should have just used them anyway. Thats too small of data to be very accurate in my opnion and do not take into account if they have been recording a warming or cooling trend. And if thats the case are they likely to continue? And what about record cold winters and how often they will play out? Its hard to say.

But what I like to do is look at as much info as I can and take the average of all data collected about each years low in an area. I tend to think it is more accurate and gives a better picture of whats going on and what to expect. The USDA is just one tool or a guide to help you out.It may have its erros. But at least it narrows down the list and keeps those that don't know so much about gardening from wasting money on things that will never have a chance.(although that doesn't stop people like me from zone pushing or trying anyway. lol)It was never meant to be set in stone. Each year is different and so is each area. Best ways to truely understand your zone/climate is trial and error. As well as looking around and see what other people are growing long term.

But I am down for a better system. Anyone else? lol Unfortunatley I don't think any system will ever truely be accurate. Theres just too much to consider other than temps. Youn have soil, elevation, moisture, health of plant and list goes on. And not to mention each local micro-climate...

- US_Marine


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