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New USDA Plant Hardiness map shows Nebraska climate in some areas is trending towards warmer temps

Posted at 6:59 PM, Nov 20, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Whether its crops in the field or vegetables from your garden, Nebraskans love to grow things.

But new data shows you might need to switch up what goes into your garden.

The latest change is shown in the USDA’s winter plant hardiness map, which looks to help gardeners determine which plants will thrive in their climate.

The previous map published in 2012 showed all of Nebraska within Zone 5, with extreme annual minimum temps around -20 to -10 degrees.

The latest map shows Nebraska, like much of the rest of the country, getting slightly warmer.

“General indications are always good to note but we are in this kind of narrow sliver of zone 6 so we are just on the edge," said John Fech with the Douglas County Extension Office.

The changes coming from this slightly warmer climate won’t be too drastic and for your vegetable gardens and crops out in the field, it won’t make too much of a difference.

But the shift does open up options for certain plants, notably trees and shrubs, which aren’t quite as hardy to thrive in Nebraska.

“There have been a few plants in recent years that have survived where otherwise there might not have. Plants like Japanese Blood grass, Rose of Sharon, Pawpaw, those kinds of plants that we are more inclined to recommend people experiment with,” said Fech.

Even though the changes aren’t drastic you’ll still want to be paying attention to the shifts to make sure your plants grow happy and healthy.