- Master Gardener: 5 facts every gardener should know about their garden
- Gardening in New England
- USDA Hardiness Zones
- AHS Heat Zones
- Rhode Island Time
- What time is it in Rhode Island Time Zone / Current time
Master Gardener: 5 facts every gardener should know about their garden
This is an exciting time of the year for gardeners but as you map out your horticultural masterpiece, make sure you are making plans that will succeed in your particular gardening
Sue St. Jean
Make seed and plant choices that will thrive in your garden.
Have you started planning this year’s garden, yet? If you are like me, you have notes, diagrams and catalogs covered in sticky notes all over your house. This is an exciting time of the year for gardeners but as you map out your horticultural masterpiece, make sure you are making plans that will succeed in your particular gardening environment. Here are five facts every gardener should know about his or her garden. They will guide your choices and help you succeed in the coming year!
Fact 1: What is the pH of your soil?
A simple soil test will tell you where on the acid/alkaline scale your soil falls and you can then amend or design your beds accordingly. Each plant thrives in a particular pH range; if you plant an alkaline loving plant in a highly acidic bed it will not thrive. Do it yourself soil testing kits range widely in price and accuracy. For as little as $10.00 you can send a soil sample to UMass for analysis.Taking a soil sample is not difficult and UMass provides detailed instructions. You can also get your soil tested at a URI Master Gardener kiosk event for free. Call the Hotline at the number below for upcoming dates.
Fact 2: What hardiness zone is your garden in?
The US is divided into Plant Hardiness Zones based on the average annual minimum winter temperature. In Rhode Island, our zones range between 7a, 6b and 6a. Buying a plant that will thrive only up to zone 8 would be a wasted investment. To find your garden’s zone, visit the USDA Map and type in your zip code. The farther away from the coast you live, the colder the zone.
Fact 3: What are the first and last frost dates for your area?
In Rhode Island, our first and last frost dates are approximately October 15th and May 15th. This interactive map will give you accurate dates for your location. Knowing this information guides us as to when to plant outside and when to harvest or protect our plants.
Fact 4: How much full sun does your garden get?
Plants need varying amounts of sun to thrive, ranging from full shade to full sun. Knowing your garden’s shade patterns will guide you in your planting design. Monitor sun exposure in the summer when trees and shrubs are throwing the maximum amount of shadow.
Fact 5: How well does your soil drain?
Performing a Percolation Test will determine if areas of your garden have drainage issues. Many plants do not like their roots being too wet so a good drainage map of your garden is important.To do the test, dig a hole twelve inches deep and six inches wide. Fill the hole with water and let it drain completely. Fill the hole again and monitor how long it takes to completely drain. If it takes longer than three hours, this part of your garden has poor drainage. Repeat the test in several places for an accurate picture. Armed with these facts, plant selection and placement in your garden this season will be the result of informed decisions and not just aesthetic considerations. The plants in your beds will thank you!
Sue St. Jean is a URI Master Gardener.
URI Master Gardener Hotline: [email protected]
1-800-448-1011 toll free, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon-Thurs, Mar-Oct
Events and workshops: cels.uri.edu/ outreach
Gardening in New England
New England typically includes the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. From a climate standpoint, in relation to gardening, the New England region has been extended by the National Gardening Association to include eastern upstate New York, southern Ontario, southern Quebec and the Maritimes Provinces of Canada.
According to this map of New England, the region lies in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3 through 7 and in AHS Heat Zones 1 through 3. Weather varies dramatically from state to state and season to season. However, generally speaking, this region enjoys 4 distinct seasons characterized by short springs, hot and humid summers, along the coasts but cool in the mountains, cool falls, and long and harsh winters with heavy snow and sometimes ice storms.
The frost free growing season ranges from 120 to 180 days with the last frost dates ranging from April end (along the coast) to early June (in the mountains) and the first frost dates starting as early as September until the end of October.
Selecting plants suited to the diverse New England climate will be a key step to success.
Hardiness Zones and Heat Zones in New England Major Cities
AHS Heat Zones
USDA Hardiness Zones
USDA Hardiness Zones
Based on the minimum ten-year average winter temperatures, plant hardiness zone maps have been progressively developed, first by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the United States and then more or less applied to the rest of the planet. The purpose of these hardiness zones is to identify how well plants will withstand the cold winter temperatures of these zones.
The USDA Hardiness Zone Map divides North America into 13 zones of 10°F each, ranging from -60°F (-51°C) to 70°F (21°C). If you are planning to buy a shrub, perennial or tree, you need to make sure that this new plant will tolerate year-round conditions in your area. Therefore, to ensure your new acquisition will survive and grow year after year, you will need to compare the hardiness zone of your area with the hardiness zone of your plant (included in most American reference books, nursery catalogs and gardening magazines describing plants).
Keep in mind, however, that this USDA map is mostly a guideline. While the USDA map reflects pretty well the garden climates of the eastern half of North America, it does not factor in any elevation or precipitation which have quite an impact in western climates. It does not include micro climates, humidity, summer heat tolerance either.
AHS Heat Zones
To partly resolve some of the above issues, a Heat Zone Map has been developed by the American Horticultural Society, based on the National Weather Service (NWS) daily high temperatures recorded between 1974 and 1995. While the effect of heat is not as immediate and radical as severe cold, it may slowly damage your plants and kill them. The most obvious heat symptoms include withering flower buds, drooping leaves, leaves discoloration (leaves may turn white or brown), or non-growing roots.
The AHS Plant Heat Zone Map includes 12 zones, each indicating the average yearly number of days with temperatures over 86°F (30°C). This threshold represents the point when the plants start suffering from the heat. These Heat zones range from less than one heat day (Zone 1) to more than 210 heat days (Zone 12). Similarly to the hardiness zones, most garden plants provide heat tolerance information. Therefore, you will find 4 numbers on each plant: Maximum Hardiness Zone, Minimum Hardiness Zone, Maximum Heat Zone, Minimum Heat Zone. For example, a tulip may be 3-8, 8-1. If you live in USDA Zone 7 and AHS Zone 7, you will know that you can leave tulips outdoors in your garden year-round. An English wallflower may be 5-8, 6-1. It is relatively cold hardy, but can’t tolerate extreme summer heat.
Again, this Heat Zone map should be used as a guideline and gardeners may find that many plants will survive outside their respective heat zone. The reason is that other factors could have an impact on the life of your plant such as a lack of water (resulting from the heat), light (cloud cover, dappled shade), day length (the longer the summer day, the more impact on plant survival), air circulation (fast-moving air on hot days may quickly dehydrate the plants), surrounding elements (hard structures of stone, concrete) emit heat, raise the air temperature and soil pH.
Rhode Island Time
What time is it in Rhode Island Time Zone / Current time
What time zone is Rhode Island in?
Rhode Island is in the Eastern Time Zone in the United States of America (USA). Eastern Standard Time ( EST ) is 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time ( GMT-5 ).
Current Rhode Island Time (Eastern Time)
Current time now in Time Zone: America New York (USA Eastern Time)
Towns and Cities in Rhode Island on Eastern Time
Does Rhode Island observe Daylight Saving Time?
Like most states in the USA, Daylight-Saving Time ( DST ) is observed in Rhode Island Time , where the time is shifted forward by 1 hour to Eastern Daylight Time ( EDT ); which is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time ( GMT-4 ).
After the Summer months the time in Rhode Island is shifted back by 1 hour to US Eastern Standard Time (EST) or (GMT-5).
Current daylight saving dates for USA
USA & Canada clocks are now on:
- Standard Time began: Sunday 3 November 2019 02:00 local time. Clocks went back one hour.
- Standard Time ends: Sunday 8 March 2020 02:00 local time. Clocks go forward one hour.
USA and Canada past and future DST schedules here
Daylight Saving 2019
It is prettier than the old map, interactive (click on it to check out the zip code zone finder), and the information is finally up to date. But it’s not good news and there are no surprises here. Nothing we haven’t already figured out for ourselves. The new map is based on weather-station data collected between 1976 and 2005 (as opposed to the 1990 map, which was based on data from 1974-1986.) I’m actually surprised at the similar spread of years used in the data collection – it feels like the temperature changes have been more wildly noticeable in the years since the last map was drawn and with that bias the map might tell a different story. We are living through proof that wild swings occur from one year to the next and so far this wimpy winter could count to notch our zone even higher.
Blithewold is solidly within the very cusp of zone 7a. (My garden a mile and a half away is 6b.) But we have always called it zone 6 to play it safe. That way we can be pleasantly surprised when marginally hardy plants come back to life again in the summer. Aucuba japonica (zone 6-10) has always bounced back for us – I only remember one winter that almost did it in. Harlequin glory bower (Clerodendrum trichotomum, zone 7-10) has been perfectly hardy too, not even dying back to the ground like the books say it should when it lives on the edge. Ours has had the protection of the North Garden wall (seen in the picture below recently repaired.) Salvia guaranitica (zone 7-10) has come back for us in the Display Garden herb bed for the last 3 years or so.
I’m tempted to use this map’s confirmation of what our experience has been to finally call our zone a 7, and as an excuse to make the best of it and test the hardiness of a few more plants. At home I have successfully overwintered leopard plant (Farfugium japonicum ‘Aureomaculata’, zone 7-8) and am trying cast iron plant (Aspidistra eliator, zone 7-11) and Tetrapanax paperifer (zone 7-10) this year. Perhaps if we found just the right spot along a south facing wall, (I have such a spot at home…) a winter blooming Edgeworthia chrysantha (zone 8-10) could be coerced to return. But I suppose that would really be pushing it. (So to speak.)
Of course it bears remembering that zone hardiness isn’t the only measure of a plant’s ability to survive in our gardens – soil quality, light and moisture levels are at least as important, over winter and summer. Has your zone changed? Will you use the new information to take a chance on anything new?