What is a hardiness zone?
What does this mean for Colorado gardeners?
Even if your area has moved up from 5b to warmer 6a, you need to know that any given year, the low temp could still bottom out below the average noted in the zone. So if you start planting 6a plants, put them in protected areas and know that in extremely cold years, there could be winter die back.
We need to pay attention to our zones because they relate to winter hardiness–one of the most critical factors for ongoing plant survival. Still, bear in mind that zone shifts don’t mean that scorching heat, high winds, poor soils, lack of water or an occasional extremely cold winter will go away. All of Colorado’s challenging growing conditions make up our bottom line.
Success in the garden means checking seed packets and nursery catalogs to make sure plants you buy grow in your zone. And, planting in the right exposure, using soil amendments and grouping plants based on similar water requirements are still the name of the game.