Plant Zones for Aromatic Plants

plant zones for aromatic plants

A quick introduction to changing plant zones for gardening in the United States. Sharon is an aromatic gardener, aromatherapist, herbalist and botanical perfumer.

Plant zones for aromatic plants are changing. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated its Plant Hardiness Zone Map in 2023 – and some zones have shifted. Why is that? And what does it mean for you as an aromatic gardener?

What are the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones?

Gardeners and growers in the United States have a valuable resource at their fingertips. In order to take the guesswork out of when to plant what, the USDA produces a Plant Hardiness Zone Map determining which perennial plants are most likely to thrive in which part of the country.

Zones relate to the hardiness of each area and are therefore weather dependent. Typically, the far north of the United States is colder than states in the south, although you will find pockets of zones with slight variations depending on the topography of the region. Many other countries produce similar resources for their gardening citizens.

Plant Zones for Aromatic Plants

Aromatic plants and herbs grow in a number of different climates but if you take the average of some of the most common aromatic plants, you’ll find that many prefer a plant zone of between 3 and 9. If you are looking for resources on how to grow 30 easy aromatic herbs, check out our new Garden Aromatics section in our Botanical Aromatherapy Membership School, currently on preview to Sunflower students!

Why are Plant Zones Changing?

If you compare the 21012 USA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to the revised 2023 version, you’ll find some differences. Half of the United States are now in warmer plant zones than those previously.1 For example, in my plant growing zone in Sedona, Arizona, there has been on average a 2?F increase in temperatures.

Many factors can contribute to changing plant zones, but the primary driving factor is climate change. The US, like many places in the world, is heating up, with more days of higher temperatures. Growing seasons may extend in some areas but vital precipitation may decrease. Or weather patterns become fiercer and more destructive, dumping too much precipitation at once.

Plants of the future will struggle to function optimally as their ability to perform photosynthesis is challenged. Drier winters means less snow and rain, vital to many plants’ survival in winter months.

Heat and Aromatic Plants

In the future, gardeners of aromatic plants will have to become resourceful with water supplies and figure out shade and cooling systems to help aromatic plants not only survive but flourish. Without aromatic plants, essential oils, hydrosols, carrier oils, and other aromatic extracts with healing properties will not exist. Cold is a necessary part of that process for many aromatic plants. It could lead to the creation of new plant zones; those of heat zones.

As an aromatic gardener, it is now vital more than ever to protect the aromatics that we grow for future generations.

References:

  1. Goodwin, G.E., and Jenny McGrath. Nov. 21, 2023. The USDA’s new plant zone map shifts cities like Lansing and Omaha five degrees warmer and could change how you garden, including when and what you grow. Accessed from Business Insider.

About the Author:

The author of this article has been working in the health care industry since the 1990’s and in the aromatherapy industry since the 2000’s. She is a UK-certified aromatherapist, a NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist®, a gardener, and a certified herbalist with several years of study. She is also a botanical perfumer.

Sharon is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, and custom blend formulator. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. Sharon works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she gardens and distills plants from her own aromatic gardens, surrounded by natural fauna and flora on an original pioneer homestead property.

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