Shifting Planting Zones

I must admit that I view a lot of the hype about climate change with a fair degree of skepticism.  In this day and age of social media, junk science, and just plain data noise, it is hard to filter out the facts from the fictions on issues such as climate change.

I have no intention of debating the issue.  I am not well enough informed to make up my mind much less prepare a cogent and logical argument on either side.  So I will let the issue rest.

shifting planting zones map

The Research

What I have come across is research that is interesting and is relevant to gardeners everywhere.  This data comes from an organization called Climate Central (  By their own admission, they are a group of independent scientists and journalists studying climate change.  Go look at their website and judge for yourself.

Planting Zones

The article that caught my attention focuses on planting zones.  We, as gardeners, are all aware of the USDA Planting zone maps.  If you aren’t you should be.  Here is the link to the USDA website where you can look at the maps they produce. (

Shifting Planting Zones USDA Map

According to the article on the Climate Central website, research and observations indicate that in large portions of the US, the planting zones have been creeping northward.   The data analysis indicates a change in the moving average of the lowest temperature normals for a 30 year period. 

This article uses research and data gleaned from USDA reporting, the National Wildlife Federation, and the US Forest Service. Observations by the US Forest Service found areas where native species have already migrated out of one current zone into another.

Make your own Decisions

Climate change is a slow and gradual process.  The overall average change in temperature that the Climate Central calculations indicate is, at most, 3 degrees.  They do admit that some of this is attributable to changes in local micro-climates that affect some reporting stations. 

I would encourage you to read the article and draw your own conclusions.  No matter what side of the climate change argument you put yourself, a change in planting zones is of interest to all gardeners.  It affects our plant choices and planting schedules.  It doesn’t matter if the cause is temporary changes in micro-climates or long term changes in climate conditions. This kind of information is still good to have.

I encourage you to do your due diligence on this issue.  Look at the data and the research.  Make informed decisions and practice good critical thinking skills as you consider what you learn. 

Links and Resources

For more information about organic gardening, lifestyles, and living, visit our website at West Texas Organic Gardening.

If you found the information here helpful, you might also find these articles on our website of interest.

Organic Growing Myths

Toss Your Tiller


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