For anyone who enjoys gardening it can be frustrating to lose a beautiful plant to harsh winter conditions. Therefore, it is important for any gardener to choose cold hardy plants that can survive the rigors of wintertime. You will need to find plants that will survive any defined temperature range of a particular area. This may seem like a simple answer but it is not entirely accurate.
The reason why it is not accurate is because there are many factors that can determine a plant’s survival during harsh winter conditions. For example, years ago there were not many details about plants and where they could survive. The information was typically based upon local agricultural growers and family farms. This information would be passed from generation to generation but it was not available on a national level.
Shortly after the Great Depression in the United States, the government started to develop a variety of maps that would help to determine the average temperature ranges throughout the various States. These important maps would help a farmer to make better decisions on which type of plants could be grown on their farms. This developed into a hardiness zone map that was used to determine a plants hardiness from one location to another.
Throughout the years after the Great Depression there was data and observation info collected that would provide important information about a plant’s ability to survive a given zone’s cold average temperature. Once again, this may seem straightforward and simple but there were other factors than simply temperature lows and highs that influenced whether a plant would survive the winter in a specific location. Some of the factors included whether the location was sunny or cloudy during cold spells, whether it was wet or dry, whether the plant was in the ground or in a pot, and whether the plant was subjected to strong winds.
It was quickly understood that these maps were simply a general guideline for determining a plant’s hardiness. For example, many areas could receive a cold snap that may only last a few short hours. This would be fine for certain plant species and hybrids that have the ability to survive short, overnight low temperatures. These plants however would not survive for extended cold periods of time. If a plant survived only for one cold period of time for example then it would not be considered a cold hardy plant.
Gardeners soon realized that they needed to replace her summer annuals with cold hardy plants that could withstand freezing temperatures such as violets, pansies, snapdragons, and petunias, just to name a few. They also understood that these plants needed a spot where they would receive the full winter sun. It was comprehended that a winter sun location would be entirely different than the summer sun location. Gardens could now have a winter splash of color by planting kale and ornamental cabbages.