Planting Zones in Canada

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In order to grow a bountiful vegetable garden or a lush flower garden, you need to know the climate for your growing area. Most vegetables and flowers only thrive in certain temperatures. In Canada, these planting or hardiness zones assist farmers and gardeners in determining when and what to plant based on the country’s climate conditions.

What Is a Planting Zone?

A planting zone provides information on the climate of a particular area. Generally presented in a map format, a planting zone contains year-round high temperatures and low temperatures for a certain area or region. Depending on the climate of a country, there could be several planting zones. A planting zone is what farmers and home gardeners refer to when deciding when to plant their crops, flowers, trees and shrubs. A planting zone is also used to determine which plants and flowers are best for growing and surviving in an area’s changing temperatures.

What Are Canada’s Planting Zones?

Canada has nine planting zones throughout the country. The government’s agriculture division determines the planting zones based on the altitude of the zone, average temperatures and climate conditions. The government updates planting zones as climate data dictates over a multi-year time span. Factors that are taken into consideration are maximum wind speed, length of frost-free time periods, frequency and amount of snow cover, minimum winter temperatures, maximum summer temperatures, amount of summer rainfall, total January rainfall and elevation.

Canada’s planting zones are assigned a numeric value, with 0 indicating the harshest zone for growing and 8 representing the mildest climate. Within Canada’s larger planting zones are subzones. Defined by lower case letters, such as a, b and c, the subzones indicate that the particular area has slightly different weather conditions than the main zone. A subzone with a lowercase “a” designation is a bit harsher than a subzone with a “b” designation.

Matching Flowers with Planting Zones

When planting flowers, the planting zone should be used as a guide to determine which types of flowers will grow and survive in your climate area. The planting zone map helps gardeners determine the last freeze of spring so they can begin planting their flower gardens.

Once you locate your area on Canada’s planting zones map, you can start shopping for flowers that grow best in your region. For example, zones 1 and 2 are the coldest areas in Canada, so consider cold season annuals that can sustain some frost. Among them are capnoides sempervirens, cerinthe minor, Hails of Spain and Iceland poppy. Perennials can be added to your flower garden once the temperature becomes warmer.

Matching Vegetables with Planting Zones

The planting zone for your area makes it easier to determine when to start planting your vegetable garden and when the growing season ends. The planting zone map helps in figuring out when the last frost in spring will occur and when the first chance of frost is likely in the fall. The months between frost times represent the growing calendar. For early spring and cool areas, plant hardy vegetables that thrive in cool soil and air. These include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, beets, collards, potatoes, onions, radishes, spinach and peas. As warmer temperatures move in, begin planting tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, beans, corn, eggplant and sweet potatoes.

Matching Trees and Shrubs with Planting Zones

Most trees and shrubs are hardy and can survive hot and cold temperatures. They are ideal as borders for flower and vegetable gardens and can also protect gardens from wind, strong sun and other harsh weather conditions. Deciduous and evergreen tree types are the easiest to grow and require little maintenance. Among the types to consider are fir, pine, spruce, cypress, juniper, beech, maple, oak and birch.

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