You can't fool Mother Nature. Knowing your area's hardiness zone is probably one of the most important things to know when you embark on planting your own garden or landscaping your yard. Gardening in the Midwest is nothing like gardening in the Southwest or even the Northeast.
Hardiness zones detail which perennials will survive in the winter in your garden or yard. It also helps you to choose plants that grow better in your area, what species are native and details when to germinate and plant, although you should also refer to a farmer's almanac each year.
Although many organizations have developed a hardiness zone map, most likely you'll want to refer to the U.S Department of Agriculture's zones. But let's break it down to perennials by zone.
One thing the Northeast is known for is its vibrant colors of its trees during autumn. But more than just this, the Northeast is perfect for springtime bulbs that can last from March until the first frost.
Native plants that work best in a colder climate like the Northeast include Wild Anemone, Lupine, Merrybells and Eastern Bluestar.
Lupines adorn a hillside above a beach in the Northeastern United States.
Also, don't forget to grab plenty of fragrant starters, like lilacs, tulips and heliotropes.
You will most likely be successful in the Northeast with lettuces, greens, herbs and root vegetables most of the year, but during the mid-summer, other garden veggies like tomatoes and squash work, too.
One of the perks of Midwest gardening is that you are in one of the sweet spots for gardening most of the year. Even though temps do drop drastically in the winter most years, planting hardy annuals can mean a perfect garden the next spring and summer.
Mix in native and annual flowers to partner plant in your garden. The colorful blooms will draw more butterflies and bees, which means better pollination. Your tomatoes couldn't thank you enough.
A butterfly sits in the bloom of a Zinnia.
Zinnias, Coneflower and Cosmos are perfect to pair with native Queen Anne's Lace along the edges of your garden, as well as landscaping the front yard.
Humidity and pleasant temps make for great growing seasons in the Southeast. Easily grow tropicals, like Canna and Elephant Ears, while mixing your landscape with Hydrangeas and native plants.
A red Canna is surrounded by African Lillies, Coleus and other native Southeastern plants.
The Southeast boasts a wealth of natives, but notably ones with luxurious color and fragrances, like Hibiscus and Bee Balm. Don't forget to check on your next drive down a country road to grab up Phlox, Black-Eyed Susans and Indian Feathers.
Vastly different than any of the other zones, Southwesterners work hard to maintain what's called xeriscapes.
What's a xeriscape?
- A style of landscape design requiring little or no irrigation or other maintenance, used in arid regions.
Since it's dry and hot, some areas restrict water usage, and other areas may even restrict lawn space.
Watering your yard is a big issue. But finding the right native plants can solve your problems a lot easier than trying to maintain a garden of what you think might look great.
The best formula for creating a pleasing xeriscape is learning your native plants. Instinctively those are the ones that are used to the arid landscape and can survive with little water.
A bee lands on the flower of a cactus in New Mexico.
For color, try planting cactus, which need almost no watering. Some species produce beautiful blooms. Salvia, with its lush purple stalks of tiny blooms, is also a wonderful ground cover that is heat-resistant and will live through drought conditions.
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