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Growing zones in VA

Posted by
organic-kiki Zone 6
(gw:organic-kiki) on
Mon, Jun 5, 06 at 15:04

How do you get specific info about which zone you are in? I am in zone 6, but everyone hesitates to say that as if they are not sure. From the maps I see (which I can't really see clearly) I am in either zone 6, 6a or 6b. I am just curious, but it is annoying that I can't get the exact answer. I am in Augusta Co. near the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Trail.
If you know of a good map or chart that is not too tiny to see counties can you recommend it to me?
Thanks,
Kiki


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Growing zones in VA

Depending on which map you look at it can vary. Virginia has Zones 5a-8a. Some maps show me as Zone 6b and most others show me as Zone 7a. Based on the data I have researched and calling the Loudoun County Agricultural Extension Office, it is now safe for me to conclude I am a solid Zone 7. How high up in elevation are you? If not high up I would say it is safe to say you are a Zone 6b.


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RE: Growing zones in VA

Likely 6b. Some of the difficulty can be that there can easily be a half-zone to a full zone's difference from one side of the mountain to the other as well as from the top to the bottom! I have a place WSW of Winchester, looks like 6b on the maps, but my records show it barely makes zone 6, yet in fact, I have lost plants that should have been fine in 6, so I now buy only those considered hardy enough for zones 4-5. Remember that the planting zone is a generalized estimate, and you can have or provide a micro-climate that differs by more than a zone! Virginia is such a medium zonality that it is usually more important to determine whether the plant will survive a harsh winter at your location *and* whether or not the plant can tolerate your local summers!


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RE: Growing zones in VA

I've never heard of zone 5 in VA. That must be a mountain location.

I always considered Virginia a zone 7, except by the Tidewater area, which is 7B or 8A, depending.

New Jersey is a zone 7, as is part of New York, so I really don't think Virginia would be much colder in the winters than up there. The shore has a moderating effect, though, so perhaps the mountain area really does get much colder.


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RE: Growing zones in VA

Call your local extension office. They should be able to tell you your zone. If you've lived there for many years, check out the charts for average low temperatures and compare them to what you've experienced in YOUR yard.

Even within a zone, there are micro-climate areas. A sunny, southern exposure, protected, up-against-the-foundation bed might be a full zone higher than the surrounding yard. I'm firmly in zone 7a but can grow zone 8 plants in that location. Plus heavy mulch of plants that can stand it will increase their tolerance to cold temperatures.

Of course, all this goes out the window when we have an exceptional winter. Then we just replace plants in spring that winter's icy blast took away. Gardening is risky at best. That's part of it's appeal. We do our best to cheat the bugs and diseases and critters that want to dine on our plants. Hopefully we learn from our losses as well as our successes.


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RE: Growing zones in VA

Babywatson, I meant to say that although the official records show my mountain area as zone 6, my personal records [which would apply only to *my* place] generally meet the criteria for zone 5 winters, and so I make sure any plants I buy will survive zone 5 winters! And yes, there certainly are mountain areas which truly are zone 5 on the maps -- the mountains and the piedmont areas can and do get quite a bit colder than coastal areas, and for longer periods.


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RE: Growing zones in VA

Any zone in the South can experience many zones colder from decade to decade and Zone 5 temps anywhere in the Commonwealth are possible, but in the warmer zones much more rare than typical. We have had many Zone 8 winters in my yard, but that doesn't mean I count on it.


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RE: Growing zones in VA

Actually, I was disappointed with last winter. I have heard how mild it was, and yet I was trying to overwinter both oleanders (hardy to zone 7B according to the seller) and cannas, which I have always heard are hardy to zone 7. Neither made it, even with heavy mulching. If last winter was so mild shouldn't they have overwintered okay?

The cannas appeared to rot, but since areas in the southeast are humid too, I can't see why that should have happened. We didn't have that much precipitation over the winter.


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RE: Growing zones in VA

I am like you. For some reason I want a detailed map that shows zones on a block by block basis even though I know that if the line ran right down my street it does not mean that I can grow things that my neighbor across the street cannot. I think that is why the available maps are hard to read, because the lines are not that precise anyway. The map at the link below has about the best clarity that I have seen.

The current USDA zone map has much of Northern Virginia in zone 6b, with a blob Loudoun County in zone 7a. I think my house is in that 7a blob, but I am not sure. There was an updated version of the map released in "draft" version that got rid of the 'a' and 'b' designations. That map pushed the zone 7 region quite a bit northward. There was a thread (on the Mid-Atlantic forum, I think) that discussed why that draft version was removed.

I attribute most of my winter-time losses to the cold damp soil. I used to shovel snow onto my beds thinking that I was protecting them, but the melting snow seemed to make the problem worse.

- Brent

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


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RE: Growing zones in VA

Yes, that map is easier to read.....so it looks like zone 6b is the winner for Augusta County, thanks y'all for your help.

Kiki


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RE: Growing zones in VA

As Meldy and Sandy said, look for microclimates to suit what you want to grow. I'm a cool zone 7, in general, with occasional zone 6 winters, but have a solid zone 8 near the house, and use the different areas to grow pretty much whatever I want (as long as it isn't delphiniums!).

My personal experience in Virginia is that drainage (and its flip side, winter watering) is the absolute critical element, especially with the less hardy items. I've learned to winter pots under the eaves so they don't spend the winter waterlogged, since the container mix includes water-retaining crystals. BabyWatson, cannas will winter for me only in an area that's about half coarse bluestone gravel - they rot really easily in cold damp conditions even though they grow like gangbusters is warm moist summers.

If you're in the mountains, you may have an easier time of it because much of the problem in the east is constant freeze-thaw cycles, heaving, and water loss due to those sporadic warm days in winter, all of which tie into lack of snow cover. (I started gardening in a snowy zone 5 along Lake Ontario, and in some ways it's MUCH easier! If I were to move back, though, I'd miss things like my figs, and crocosmia that winters over.)

Robin


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RE: Growing zones in VA

My Cannas are coming back, but were slow since we had such a wet winter.


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RE: Growing zones in VA

Hope I'm not stepping on any toes, but I haven't had much luck with the extension office. There are only certain days and times that you can call the master gardeners and IF I can remember the right time, they usually cannot answer my question. I feel that there must be someone at VATech that could give me some information, but I don't know who or how to reach them.


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