Boonslick gardeners now have a new reason to try their luck with some unusual plants to the area.



Updated for the first time in more than 20 years, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map has placed many areas of the state into a warmer area.


Boonslick gardeners now have a new reason to try their luck with some unusual plants to the area.

Updated for the first time in more than 20 years, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map has placed many areas of the state into a warmer area.

Vintage Hill Farm owner Jeff Oberhaus said the map serves guidelines for how plants could fare in the area.

"We typically used the zones as guidelines for what we can grow here," he said. "The change might tempt people to try plants that were more southern before."

The change he is referring to is the shift the Boonslick area has made from zone 5b in 1990 to 6a on the new map.

According to the USDA map, zone 5b is an area where average annual extreme minimum temperatures range from -15 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Zone 6a has a temperature range of -10 to -5 degrees, showing that the Boonslick has heated up in recent years.

A USDA press release states that the shift comes in part because new maps use average temperatures collected from weather stations from 1976 to 2005,  a much longer period than used in the previous estimate.

"The thing I don't like about the new map is that they stopped collecting the weather data in 2005," Oberhaus said. "We've had some unusual winters since then."

Regardless, the new zone means area gardeners could try growing new plants, such as crepe myrtle and bigleaf hydrangea, which used to die to the ground during Missouri winters.

"I always say, 'I'll kill it three times before I give up'," Oberhaus said. "We can certainly try new things that are zone 6, but I think many plant enthusiasts already have been."