Florida’s Hardiness Zones and What This Means

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One of the most significant considerations when deciding when and what to plant is to understand the environment in which a particular plant species will be able to thrive. It is essential to look at factors such as humidity, rainfall, heat, time of day plant will receive the sun’s rays, amount of shade, and type of soil.

And, likely the most critical factor of all is temperature variation, particularly how cold it gets. Coldness has always been a factor for gardeners to be aware of so in 1974 horticulturists and botanists began collecting and analyzing temperature data from around the nation. Highs and lows were recorded to give an idea of temperature variations across America. Based on this weather data the United States was divided into what is called Hardiness Zones which use a data base showing the average coldest temperatures for each region across the United States. According to Florida Gardener.Com “Plant Hardiness Zones are a general guide to help you know which plants will grow where you live because plants vary in the temperature extremes they can endure”. The nation is divided into 11 zones, 1 having the coldest temperatures and 11 having the warmest, no frost or freezing weather.

Florida is divided into four zones:

  • Tropical This zone has no frost or freezing weather and has the numbers 10b and 11. All the Keys are in this Hardiness Zone where tropical plants needing high heat and humidity thrive but plants requiring a more temperate climate do not. Palms, orchids, and bananas grow well here.
  • South All the way from Miami to Vero Beach the Hardiness Zone of 10a to 10b allows a wide variety of plants and trees to grow well. Often referred to as the sub-tropic zone, plants here will enjoy heat but not much frost and rarely temperatures below freezing. Fruit bearing trees like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits as well as tropical flowers such as hibiscus and bougainvillea enjoy this zone.
  • Central Orlando and Daytona are in this Hardiness Zone of 9a and 9b. The weather is similar to the Southern Zone except temperatures are sometimes colder for more extended periods in winter months. Many of the same plants that do well in the southern zone can be grown here, and limes, avocados, and pineapples do exceptionally well.
  • North covers the rest of Florida including Jacksonville and Tallahassee and has colder winter temperatures. Hard frost and below freezing weather are frequent visitors. In the Hardiness Zone a little of 9a and all of 8a and 8b, tropical plants will not do well. Instead hardier plants such as apple, pear and plum trees and flowers including roses, pansies, and geraniums thrive.

Knowing which Hardiness Zone you live in before you plant, be it flowers, vegetables, or trees is most important to the eventual success of your efforts. Knowing your Hardiness Zone can also help you in understanding what time of year is best to plant. Each type of plant has its preferred characteristics, which, if respected, will help ensure the quality garden you are hoping for. If you live in the Ocala area and would like more information about the Hardiness Zone in your area you can call Best Cut Lawns with 25 years of experience in lawn care and landscaping. Their phone number is (352) 216-0512.