Before planting native shrubs, it is important to know what zone you live in. Zones are determined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to give guidance to the lowest temperatures at which a plant will survive. Various factors weigh in to determine which plants will fit in a given zone, such as temperature, rain, elevation, snow, humidity, winds, and the amount of sunlight.
The USDA has created a Plant Hardiness Zone Map. It shows people how a certain plant or shrub will grow in a particular area. There are eleven separate zones – each indicating the coldest temperatures at which a plant will thrive. Zone 1, for example, is for areas that have average yearly minimum temperatures that are lower than -50 degrees Fahrenheit (-45.5 degrees Celsius). Zone 11, in the alternative, is for areas that have an average yearly minimum temperature greater than 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius); those areas never have frost – at any time of year.
It is very important for a gardener to know exactly what zone he reside in before planting shrubs. It is particularly true if the shrubs are not purchased from a local nursery; but, if they come from an online or catalog nursery. In general, local nurseries will be more likely to have native shrubs in stock.
Once a gardener knows his zone, he can begin to peruse through the countless shrubs for that zone. Shrubs can be described as perennial plants with multiple trunks. They can be found in all shapes and sizes, they can have flowers, or serve has hedges, the choice is the gardeners. They are typically divided into low, medium, or tall species. In addition, they can be categorized as either evergreen or deciduous.
As mentioned, picking the perfect native shrubs is up to the gardener; however, there are a few favorites. Juniper, an evergreen, and lilac, a flowering deciduous, are among the native shrubs that grow best in zones 2 – 9 and 3 – 9, respectively. Natal plum is a beautiful flowering evergreen that thrives in zones 10 – 11. In addition, the Redtwig dogwood is a spectacular flowering shrub that grows well in zones 2 -7.
The easiest way to find the perfect native shrubs for any given zone is to research beforehand, or simply go to a reputable nursery. Most plants are tagged with the pertinent information clearly listed, and the hardiness zone is among that information. It may be overwhelming, so at the very least, it is recommended that a gardener have a clear vision – or landscape plan - of whether he prefers evergreens or deciduous shrubs, or a combination of both.