Compare New 2012 USDA Plant Maturity Zone Map of USA with Old 1990 Map

USDA 2012 Growing Zone Maps are now available! Even though, deciphering the growing zones map can still be confusing. The location of your herb garden, within your USDA Plant Maturity Zone is information that you should understand before your herb gardening for 2013 begins. You should try to thoroughly understand the New 2012 USDA planting zone in which you live, including any microclimate in the area where you will plant your herb garden.

Links to Planting Zones by US Region or State

New USDA Planting Zones Map

In the eastern half of the country, the New USDA Planting Zones Map is the standard against which all other planting zones maps are are judged.

The USDA Planting Zone Map, whether you live in the Eastern or Western United States, is still the guideline used by most garden catalogs, Internet garden suppliers and direct mail herb suppliers. A herb gardener must be aware that growing zones indicated by one garden supplier may differ slightly from the gardening zones presented by another. Both, though, are doing their best with the information they have. In general, asking questions and paying attention is the best rule when deciding which Gardening Zone Map you will use.

The Eastern United States is comparatively flat, so laying out the Growing Zones Map is a matter of mapping lines moving north approximately parallel to the Gulf Coast in consistent increments. The zone border lines tilt northeast approaching the east coast until they cross the Eastern mountain ranges where the varying altitudes cause greater variations in planting zones.

Compare the old growing zone map below with some of the slightly warmer temperatures found on the new growing zone map above.

Older USDA Map of Mainland United States

When studying your planting zone, patience is a virtue!

Be patent and study your planting zone map carefully. As confusing as it first might appear, familiarity with the gardening zones map will pay big dividends at harvest. It has always been and still remains an invaluable herb gardening tool.

Sunset Western Growing Zones are the standard among gardeners who live in the 13 western states.

The Sunset Western Growing Zone Map is the more accurate reference in the Western US. The criteria that define the western climate zones are more complicated than in the Eastern US. Many factors other than the winter low temperatures on which the USDA map is based determine western growing climates. As weather moves east from the Pacific Ocean the air becomes more continental as it migrates over and around the Western mountain ranges.

The Sunset Western Growing Zone Map recognizes the difference between garden climates in the east and west by dividing the US into 45 growing zones. The 100th meridian, a north/south line which runs roughly through the middle of North and South Dakota and on south through Texas west of Laredo. Sunset Growing Zones 1 through 24 are west of the 100th meridian and Sunset Planting Zones 25 through 45 are east of the meridian.

This system acknowledges the complex gardening regions of the west and recognizes that in many cases neither minimum nor maximum temperatures determine the survival of a herb plant.

Sunset Gardening Zones are based on regions where particular plants flourish, not on regions that share a feature such as temperature or heat. Instead of matching a plant to an established zone, the zone is created to match the plants.