Zoned out in the garden

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The plant hardiness map is about to get a revision from the United States Department of Agriculture that would better reflect a warming climate. The map found on the back of any seed packet shows if Japanese maples, pineapples, begonias and other plants could grow in a particular climate and when it’s best to plant them. Last updated in 1990, the hardiness map has most of Reno at Zone 7. But across the country, winter is shifting northward, and it’s taking the planting zones with it. The revision is expected sometime this year, and the USDA hasn’t released details of the changes. It’s possible Reno’s zoning will remain the same. But the overall shifting of the hardiness zones indicates a changing climate.

The new map is being developed by Oregon State University’s PRISM Group. According to an article in The Daily Climate, it’s to be GIS (geographic information system)-compatible, and users will be able to zoom in on their towns and zip codes for specific zone information.

For an interesting visual on how the zones and general warming patterns have changed between 1990 and 2006, visit