What is my USDA Hardiness Zone?
If you are new to gardening, you may not know about hardiness zones or why they are important. You need to know your USDA hardiness zone for planting butterfly host and nectar plants in your butterfly garden. The hardiness zones are geographically defined areas, based on temperature, that relate to how well a plant will grow and survive the coldest conditions. Knowing your zone will help determine if a plant can grow well in your area. There are other factors that influence how well the plant will do, but the hardiness zone is a good starting point. At Joyful Butterfly, we list the zones for each of the plants and seeds we sell.
The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) compiled the average lowest extreme temperature for each area in the US. Each zone (1-13) varies by 10°F. The map breaks the zones down by 5°. If you enter your ZIP code in the USDA website, it will report your zone. Here in Blackstock, SC, we are zone 8a.
Can I Plant Butterfly Plants in My USDA Hardiness Zone?
What if you live in a colder zone than is listed for a particular plant? Does this mean you can’t grow that plant in your area? No! You may still be able to grow the plant during the summer, but be advised that it might not survive the winter and will act as an annual instead of a perennial. If you live in a warm climate, you may need to artificially cold stratify seeds to simulate winter conditions (see how to cold stratify here).
Fortunately, there are many plants that are hardy in most zones. In our plant descriptions, we state where the plant is native (so it should grow well), but also the hardiness zone in case you want to try and grow a plant that isn’t necessarily native but will still grow well in your state.
Even if a plant is hardy in your zone, you must check other growing factors. You should ensure you have the correct amount of sun and moisture, proper soil, and space the plants appropriately. Plants that are native to an arid area may not do well in an area that sees above average rainfall. Vice versa, plants that need very moist soil will need extra watering in desert conditions. Length of daylight is an important factor and will impact the growing season.
Some plants require work, while others are fairly maintenance free. Now that you can find your USDA hardiness zone for planting butterfly host and nectar plants, your time and effort will be rewarded with beautiful butterflies and other pollinators visiting your colorful butterfly garden.