Daryl Pulis’ Comments on Hardiness Zones

Daryl Pulis’ Comments on Hardiness Zones

If I remember correctly, the proposed 2003 AHS Zone map was such a mess that it was recalled before the USDA would put its stamp on it. Tony Avent is on the committee for the “new” venture. (I’m glad, since he so hated the broad generalizations of the AHS Heat Zone Map and was so vocal about it. )

The old (1990) map that showed a definite dividing line that paralleled Ga. 400 for the 7a/7b designation seems to be pretty accurate for my part of the world. The lower elevation east of 400 (along Lake Lanier, the Chattahoochee, Suwanee area) really makes a difference in temps.

Similarly, there are parts of Hall county, well north of Gwinnett, that are east of the lake, also lower in elevation, and are quite warm.

The 2003 AHS map ignores many years of records to focus only on 1986-2002, and dumps the “a” and “b” designations. I’m technically in zone 7a by the 1990 map, microclimatically in 6b, and the new map puts me in 8. Ridiculous!

I only have a few clients inside the perimeter, and I’m telling those that are serious gardeners to consider themselves Zone 8 with cautions.

For non-gardeners and those outside the perimeter I’m still saying zone 7. I do remind them that zone pushing is useful if they have their heart set on a plant.

As J.C. Raulston once said, “The cost of a plant is approximately equal to the cost of a good dinner out. The dinner is with you for a couple of hours. The plant may only survive a few years, but for the cost of a dinner out, who cares? Enjoy it for the few years and then get another!”

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