Embracing Change: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map Gets an Update in 2023!

While we’re all bundled up for winter, it’s the perfect time to dive into a blooming topic that’s been making waves in the gardening community – the recent update to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map in 2023.  

The Zone Map Shuffle: A Quick Recap 

For those new to gardening, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map helps gardeners understand which plants are most likely to thrive in a specific region based on the average annual minimum winter temperature. It’s like a GPS for your garden, guiding you toward plants that can weather the local climate.  The map has only been updated 5 other times since its first release in 1927, so this is a big deal! 



The first Plant Hardiness Zone Map by Dr. Alfred Rehder 1927                                           The recently updated 2023 Plant Hardiness Zone Map


Now, drumroll, please! The 2023 update brings some exciting news for us in Massachusetts and New England. With warmer winters on the horizon, the hardiness zones are on the move, creating opportunities and challenges that every plant enthusiast should be aware of.  Previously Massachusetts fell in between 5b-7b depending on where you were in the state, and while we still fall within those zones, much of the state has now moved into the warmer zones of 6a-7a. If you’re near our Winchester, Brighton, Concord, Tewksbury, or Chelmsford stores, you’re in zone 6b!  But if you frequent our Falmouth or Osterville stores, you’re probably in 7a. 


Curious about far away locales and their zones?  You can play around with the brand-new interactive USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map on their website here! 

Hello, New Green Friends! 

One of the perks of this shift is the chance to welcome a broader range of plants into our gardens. With milder winters, you can experiment with species that were previously a bit finicky in the colder weather.  Want a quick and easy way to see if the new plant of your dreams would work in your zone?  A quick search of the intended plant name and the keywords ‘growing zone’ or ‘hardiness zone’ should give you the answers you’re searching for (just bear in mind that the changes are new so some growers may still be catching up).

Imagine the vibrant hues of new flowers, the exotic foliage of different shrubs, and the sweet fragrance of novel blooms gracing your backyard. It’s a plant party, and you’re invited! 


But Wait, Let’s Be Mindful Gardeners 

As we embrace change, it’s crucial to keep in mind the delicate balance of our local ecosystems. While the update opens doors to new plant possibilities, let’s not forget our native flora. These plants are the backbone of our environment, providing food and shelter for local wildlife. As we introduce newcomers, let’s do so responsibly and avoid pushing out the tried-and-true natives that make our region unique. 


The Not-So-Welcome Guests: Invasive Pests and Plants 

Warmer winters might sound like a dream, but there’s a potential downside – invasive pests and plants gaining a stronger foothold. With milder temperatures, these unwelcome guests may survive and thrive when they would have otherwise been knocked back by frosty winters. Vigilance is key, folks. Keep an eye out for any signs of invasive trouble and act promptly to keep your garden and the surrounding environment in harmony. 


In Conclusion: A Blooming Future 

So, there you have it – the lowdown on the 2023 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map update. Change is in the air, and our gardens are ready to blossom with newfound potential. Let’s embrace the opportunities, be mindful stewards of our environment, and continue to cultivate the beauty that makes Massachusetts and New England truly special. 

We’re here all winter at Mahoney’s and the chilly months are perfect for planning. Stop by and let’s dream about your spring garden together! Here’s to a year of growth, both in our gardens and in our knowledge. Happy gardening, and may your plants thrive in this ever-changing, ever-exciting world!