In order to get beautiful results from your garden plants, it's best to use a gardening map that offers specific help for determining your growing zone and its special characteristics. According to the Sunset growing season map, the United States Department of Agriculture's Zone 7 includes Oregon's Wilamette Valley, Rougue River Valley and the high foothills of California.
Compare USDA and Sunset Zones
Knowing the specifics about your particular zone can help you choose plants that will thrive.
General USDA Zones
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) divides the country into 11 growing zones according to the average annual low winter temperatures in 10-degree F increments. The most recent USDA zone map uses temperature data collected from 2005 through 2010. Within zone 7 there is a 7a and a 7b, each with slightly different winter low temperatures. The map does not take into consideration summer hardiness. Zone 7 encompasses the bottom of the United States and up to the middle of the coastal states. This map is meant to serve as a general guide for gardeners.
Specific Sunset Zones
Unfortunately, the USDA map does not take into account other factors that can have a dramatic effect on a plant's ability to thrive in a particular area. Sunset's growing zone map divides the country into 45 different regions and takes a multitude of factors into consideration. This gives the gardener more specific information regarding the overall growing conditions of a particular region. Just a few of the things taken into consideration by the Sunset map include:
- Mountains, hill and valleys
- Ocean influence
Characteristics of Sunset Zone 7
The growing season in the Wilamette Valley is from the middle of March through the middle of November. The summers are hot and dry and the winter lows range from 28 degrees to 1 degree F. The Rouge River Valley and the California High foothill area has a growing season that does not start until May and is over by the middle of October. The summers in this area are also hot and dry, while the winters are wet with lows ranging from 23 degrees to 9 degrees F.
Choose Native Plants
Use the Sunset map to begin making a list of possible plants and than do some more detailed research as to what would work best for your specific area. Native plants are always a great option, as they are adapted to the region and can tolerate fluctuations in weather better than non-native species. In addition, native plants are well adapted to particular soil conditions.
Perennials are plants that return each season and will multiply annually. Perennials sometimes need to be divided to keep their growth in check. Use perennials anywhere that you need low maintenance color.
- Bee Balm: This perennial wildflower looks great when planted in mass. Hummingbirds love the bright red blooms that appear in July through August. Plant this beauty in full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.
- Black-Eyed Susan: This plant is native to the Eastern United States. This easy to grow perennial thrives in full sun and tolerates neglect. Happy bright yellow flowers with brown centers bloom June to August.
- Hosta: If you have a shady spot, a hosta is the perfect fit. There is a wide range of hostas that thrive in full to partial shade. Leaves range in color from dark green to variegated white and light green.
- Iris: With over 200 species of Iris, there are a lot of varieties to choose amongst. Colors range from deep purple to yellow and white. Iris plants like to have wet feet and will do well in boggy conditions or around the edge of a pond.
- Lavender: Lavender is a perfect plant to place right outside a patio or your front entrance. Not only is lavender a beautiful woody perennial, but also it is also highly fragrant. Lavender makes a lovely addition to any bouquet or can be dried and used in many ways.
- Poppy: Poppies are delicate flowers that are easy to grow from seed. Poppies come in a wide variety of pastel to vibrant colors including red, yellow, lavender and white.
Annuals are a lovely addition to any garden and make excellent plants for containers. Many people use annuals to fill in spots between perennials or for a pretty border or accent group.
- Marigolds: There are many varieties of marigolds, all of which add color and interest to any garden. Marigolds can be started inside from seed and transplanted outside after the danger of frost has passed.
- Common Snapdragon: Snapdragon is a member of the figwort family and is a fast growing, easy keeper that hummingbirds love. Snapdragons range in size from 4 inches to 3 feet depending on variety. Snapdragons have tubular flowers in many colors and do best in full sun to part shade.
- Bachelors Buttons: If you need a perfect dried flower, the beautiful bachelors buttons fits the bill. Growing up to 4 feet tall, depending on variety, this plant has dramatic purple flowers that dry beautifully. Seeds can be directly sown in spring or fall. Although this plant is considered an annual, it does a remarkable job of self sowing.
- Nasturtium: This "old time" garden favorite is very easy to propagate from seed and can found in a trailing or upright variety. This annual is fast growing and loved by the hummingbirds. Leaves are an interesting shape and flowers can be many colors. Nasturtium likes light and sandy soil and full sun to light shade.
- Four O'clock: This fragrant flower can grow to 3 feet and has beautiful flowers that could be red, pink, yellow, magenta or white. The seeds of this flower are easy to gather and keep for next year. Four O'clock are not particular about the soil and do well when neglected.
Many trees, deciduous and evergreen, can be grown in zone 7. Some of these trees offer beautiful spring color. Here, are just a few of the favorite ones.
- Crape Myrtle: A favorite tree in the south, crape myrtles have interesting bark and lovely late summer flowers. Often planted along driveways or fence lines, these trees require light pruning and mulching for best performance.
- Magnolia: Magnolias are prized for their glossy foliage and large ivory flowers that are heavily scented. These slow growers make a lovely addition to any landscape and provide year-round interest.
- Crab Apple: This pretty spring bloomer is a favorite and easy to grow tree that has pretty white or pink flowers. Fruit is similar to a small apple and enjoyed pickled or when made into jelly.
- Flowering Dogwood: Dogwood is a lovely understory tree that blooms early in the spring. Dogwoods are a good choice if you have a slightly shady spot near some large trees. There is a wide variety of dogwood trees that bloom in red, pink or white.
Zone 7 offers a great climate for vegetable gardens and many gardeners have a spring crop, summer crop and fall crop. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Agent for varieties that grow best in your particular area.
Long Growing Season
Zone 7 offers a long growing season that gives plenty of opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of flowers, trees, shrubs and vegetables.