The One-Minute Geographer: Shifting Planting Zones

Jim Fonseca
1 min readSep 20, 2021
Map from NOAA

Today the One-Minute Geographer is looking at the impact of climate change on crop planting and gardening. We’ve all seen those planting zone maps that tell us what kinds of flowers, shrubs or vegetables we can plant in our regions.

NOAA and the folks at have given us a handy measure of how zones are getting warmer and, in effect, shifting northward between 1971 and 2010. Everything you see on the map above indicates warming; that is the expansion of more southerly zones farther north. The swirly pattern in much of the West reflects its mountains and the movement of zones uphill to higher elevations.

The primary factor measured in these maps is the warming up of the average overnight low temperatures — those frosts that can kill seedlings and young plants.

Follow me on Medium for more posts about geography, the environment and climate change. You might be interested in this post on change in precipitation:

More detail about these maps is at Climate Change and the 1991–2020 US Climate Normals at

Jim Fonseca

Geography professor (retired) writes The One Minute Geographer featuring This Fragile Earth. Top writer in Transportation and, in past months, Travel.