USDA Plant-zone map updated, reflects global warming
Global warming is hitting not just home, but garden. The color-coded map of planting zones often seen on the back of seed packets is being updated by the government, illustrating a hotter 21st century.
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Global warming is hitting not just home, but garden. The color-coded map of planting zones often seen on the back of seed packets is being updated by the government, illustrating a hotter 21st century.
The new guide, unveiled Wednesday at the National Arboretum, arrives just as many home gardeners are receiving their seed catalogs. The map carves up the U.S. into 26 zones based on five-degree temperature increments. But the new map will only mean "subtle changes" for Puget Sound gardeners, says Sarah Reichard, director of the University of Washington's Botanic Gardens.
You'll still face the frustration of trying to get a tomato crop, she says, and you'll still find that a hard freeze will cause havoc with those plants you bought at the nursery — plants better suited to grow in California.
"We're in zonal denial here," Reichard says. "We're thinking that we're in a zone that's warmer than it really is. We have the Pacific Ocean as a moderating influence, and maybe for five years, even 10 years, we can grow plants from Chile or New Zealand ... . Then we get that hard freeze and the plants die. We're still talking about the November, 2010, freeze that only lasted a day or two, and it killed a lot of plants."
Seattle Times staff reporter Eric Lacitis contributed to this report