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Posted:  28 Jan 2012 10:34  
There is a new 'Zone Hardiness' map in the offing.
I wonder if this is a true warming trend or have the seed producers (subconsciously?) selected crossings for cold hardiness?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/new-plant ...
Posted:  28 Jan 2012 20:53  
The USDA has been proposing to adjust the Hardiness Zones map for some time now.  However, fluctuations in local climate can occur from year to year, decade to decade, century to century, and microclimates within localities within each zone will vary from year to year as a regular occurrence.  So the Hardiness Zones map is not a hard-and-fast Bible of cold hardiness, only a general guide.

This actually represents a delayed reaction on the part of the USDA, which is a typical government bureaucracy in that its inconsequential acts seem to take place at warp speed, while its useful activities proceed at the pace of geological time.  Just my opinion.

Clem
Posted:  28 Jan 2012 23:08  
Any thoughts on the plant breeding and selection aspect?
Posted:  30 Jan 2012 06:28  
I know that plant breeders are constantly trying to extend the growing ranges of various types of flowering, fruiting and vegetable plants in order to expand the markets for desirable varieties.  For example, if lilacs could be successfully grown in South Florida, there would instantly be a huge new market for them in warmer climates than they can now tolerate.

There are many plants that could never be successfully or reliably cultivated in gardens in Zone 6, for example Crape Myrtles, Camellias and Gardenias, but there are now several cultivars of these species that can be grown (with careful siting and microclimate management) up north.  It's a constant program of selective breeding and new plant introductions that goes on for all sorts of horticulturally desirable varieties.

Clem

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