A hardiness zone is a geographically defined area in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including its ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone (see the scale on the right or the table below). For example, a plant that is described as "hardy to zone 10" means that the plant can withstand a minimum temperature of 30 °F A more resilient plant that is "hardy to zone 9" can tolerate a minimum temperature of 20 °F. These zones can change for a variety of reasons, and last year, those of us on Long Island, who were used to being in a zone 6b (-5 °F), now find ourselves in a slightly warmer zone 7 (0 °F,) however, due to our occasional deep winter cold, many gardeners still suggest sticking to plants hardy to zone 6 or higher.

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