Opinions differ about new plant hardiness map

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on January 30, 2012 at 6:56 PM

SEATTLE - Ask anyone at your local garden store and they'll tell you - things grow here now that didn't used to.

"These are ones, when started 23 years ago, we wouldn't even sell these. They just wouldn't live period,” said Steve Magley, Owner, City People's Garden Store

Hebes are just one variety of plant taking root in a warmer Western Washington.

The USDA has released new maps backing up what most gardeners already know.  The 2012 plant hardiness zone map bumps up the temperatures in several zones.

Western Washington is now up to  8-B. That means the extreme low temperature is up from ten degrees to 15 degrees.

For people who tend big gardens, this expert analysis opens the door to all kinds of new plants. But we have our own expert at KING 5 and he has a different opinion of the map.

"I thought they were full of bull tweedle ... that was my original reaction," said gardening guru Ciscoe Morris.

Now don't get him wrong, Ciscoe believes temperatures are rising and he even grows a large variety of 8-B plants.

"The thing is you just have to accept that garages are not made for parking cars, they're made for keeping your plants," he said.

During the colder months, Ciscoe pulls his 8-B plants into his garage turned green house, then replants them when things warm up.

"It would be horrible for people to think they could buy an 8-B plant and plant it out in their garden because I can guarantee, unless something drastic changes, you're not going to have that plant in spring, almost every spring," he said.

If you insist on planting 8-Bs, Ciscoe says you should protect them when the forecast goes cold, or you could do what he does, park them in a warmer place.

The USDA says it is not suggesting radical changes in varieties of plants and vegetables you grow. What is thriving in your yard now will most likely continue to thrive.

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