Tuesday, March 20, 2012
The U.S. Department of Agriculture updated the Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which shows that most of the state is in a zone 6.
"It shows, acknowledging, we're having a little warmer weather," said Bob Neier, a horticulturist with the Sedgwick County Extension Center.
Neier said warmer temperatures are giving gardeners more reason to choose exotic plants.
"They're feeling a little more confidence in buying some plants that tolerate a little warmer weather. But gardeners always stretch the zone anyhow," he said.
The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map shows weather data from 1976 to 2005.
The new map shows that the southern half of Kansas is in a zone 6b, with average annual extreme minimum temperatures 0 to -5.
The northern half of Kansas is mostly in a zone 6a, with average annual extreme minimum temperatures -5 to -10. Extreme northern parts of Kansas are in a zone 5b, with average annual extreme minimum temperatures -10 to -15.
Businesses like Johnson Nursery have seen more customers venturing into exotic plants.
"We see people wanting to plant maybe more exotic things," said Jeremy Johnson, president. "Kansas is one of the most difficult places to garden because we get the cold end of the winter, we get the heat in the summer. There's really not another place in the country that we see those extremes."
Neier cautions gardeners not to gamble by going into a higher zone and reminds people to check labels when buying.
"You're gambling if you're buying things that are zone 7. You're not gambling too much if you're buying things zone 6," he said.
The Sedgwick County Extension Center will be hosting free seminars about plants on March 31, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call 316-660-0100.