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A flower sitting with a group of dark rocks, bamboo, grass and the LawnZenGarden logo. A flower sitting with a group of dark rocks, bamboo, grass and the LawnZenGarden logo.

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by Carole Schwalm The garden planting zone map from the United States Department of Agriculture.

How many times have you seen this map? And how many times have you really paid attention to it?

The map is a guideline, and mapmakers and providers agree that climate change might result in the above (that once stood the test of time), may need to be altered yearly.

What does the map mean to the gardener? Let’s take a BiColor Butterfly Bush into consideration. The flower is nothing short of lovely and obviously butterflies love it. It blooms from July until fall. It is recommended for cottage or butterfly gardens. Sounds great doesn’t it?

Picture of some bamboo trees. And here we get to the caveat. The recommended zones are 5-9, which means that if you live in 1-4, and from 10-11, this may not be your best choice. If your soil isn’t well-drained the plant won’t thrive. If your yard is excessively shady this isn’t the plant for you or your butterflies because it requires full sun.

I love bamboo and have plants indoors, but what if I wanted to incorporate it into my landscaping. Bamboo, like a clumping bamboo originated in China, but in the high mountains (1000’ to 3500’) some areas of the country are near to, even below sea level. I live at 7000.’

There are hardy bamboo plants like the Temple Bamboo (semiarundinaria fastuosa) hardy to Zone 5. I am in Zone 6. I have all the Sun the plant needs. I have plenty of room for its 20’ height and also room for it to spread, as it will, prolifically. I could take a chance on some things, but not on others.

The information about what your plant needs is at hand, whether in seed catalogs, online or in the library. Most nurseries are attuned to the region, but the internet brings the world to your desktop – and is another reason why it is good to be aware first of what will thrive where you are.

Share your zone map experiences or if you'd like more information.