Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

Jerry Anderson, a good friend, emailed me today and asked if we really have been placed in a new planting zone and is there data to back this up?

Yes says the map below.  Sally Deneen of The Daily Green states:

It’s startling to see a palm tree growing in downtown Seattle, just a couple hours’ drive from Canada. The palm exemplifies why it’s wise to look at a map of “hardiness zones” whenever you’re buying and planting a tree. It turns out that this particular palm and other trees that thrive in Texas are suited to Seattle, as they share the same “plant hardiness zone.”

So, what are hardiness zones? Plant hardiness zones divide the US and Canada into 11 areas based their average annual minimum temperature. The zones are divided by temperature increments; each five- to 10-degree difference in annual average minimum temperature warrants a new zone. For example, the lowest average temperature in Miami (Zone 10) is 30 to 40 degrees. In Honolulu (Zone 11), it’s above 40 degrees. New York City (Zone 7) shares the same hardiness zone as parts of New Mexico and Arizona, both Sunbelt states.

Much of the nation has warmed since 1990 when the last US Department of Agriculture hardiness zone map came out, causing significant parts of many states to shift by at least one full hardiness zone, according to an updated map released in 2006 by the Arbor Day Foundation. Much of Illinois, Ohio and Indiana, for instance, now fall into a warmer Zone 6 (up from Zone 5). That puts them on par with parts of Nevada, where the lowest temperatures fall between 0 and minus-10 degrees.

Some small portions of the US actually have warmed by two full zones. Look below to see how the USDA has changed the zones allowing certain plants to thrive in colder climates……or at least allowing the green industry to sell plants from a warmer zone.  The question is will that plant survive now?



As a Landscape Designer in the Twin Cities I have always pushed the boundaries of what not can be planted.  With this in mind the use of Japanese Maples have been a passion of mine.  Even though many of my clients are scared to plant such an expensive tree in their yard I always assure them that they have a warranty and they will get a new plant if we happen to have a bad winter.  My thought process is that if they are in the right place and if they can get a good “footing” the year before they stand a great chance of being a permanent structure in the yard for many years.  Japanese Maples shine in the northern landscape.  Their amazing burgundy leaves  pop out against many traditional plants while their rigid texture sets off others.  For me it is always worth a shot to stand out in the crowd.  The list of plants is small in the neck of the woods; why not gamble a bit and test the hardiness zone system for yourself.  You may find you have an entire micro-climate to try others such as Lavender, Blue-mist shrub or Butterfly Bush.