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CAMPBELL RIVER HAS A USDA PLANT HARDINESS ZONE OF 8A

WHAT IS THE PLANT HARDINESS ZONE IN CAMPBELL RIVER?

Here is a question that gets asked often, and depending on who you speak with, the answer can vary greatly.

First off, there are various different charts that can be used when determining a plant hardiness/gardening zone.  The Government of Canada has a couple.  One was made in 1967 and was used for decades, then was finally updated to reflect climate changes.  The problem with Canada's chart(s) is that they do not correspond with the USDA's Plant Hardiness charts, (the same zones have different numbers on the 2 different systems), so they don't do Canadian gardeners much good, as plants are sold and labeled using the USDA's numbers.


A screen shot of GC's plant zone site. This system is of little use to Canadian gardeners

It is for this purpose that we will use the US's system in this article instead of the Canadian system to determine our Gardening Zone.  Now even with this point settled, you will STILL get varying opinions about our hardiness zone.  Depending on who you speak with, you will likely hear numbers between 6B and 8B.  The truth however, lays somewhere in between.


A typical example of a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Most of the Island is in Zone 8

Anyone who tells you we are in a 6B or 7A hardiness zone is simply not informed.  No maps or charts support this idea.  Perhaps they have gotten their numbers from the Canadian charts, or looked at how the US's charts determine the hardiness zones by the average temperatures and then said to themselves, "well that one winter Campbell River got colder than that", but a hardiness zone is NOT determined by how hot or how cold it has EVER been in a location, but rather by averages and how LONG hot or cold temperatures may last.  Most plants that are listed as, say, a zone 8, can handle brief periods of colder weather, as long as they are not subjected to longer periods of cold, (as would be found in zone 7A and 7B).


Example using the Canadian system. These numbers will NOT match with the US chart

This brings me to my next point.  Campbell River is most certainly in Zone 8.  How do I know this, you ask?  Well first off, the USDA Hardiness Zone charts say so, but I also know from personal experience.  I have personally kept Zone 8 plants in my garden for years, and with no winter protection.

Take, for instance, the Japanese Aralia (Fatsia Japonica).  You have probably seen these growing around town somewhere.  They only grow in Zone 8+, and seem to thrive here just fine.  If we weren't in a Zone 8, you simply wouldn't see these here.  There are plenty of other plants that confirm this.


Japanese Aralia (Fatsia Japonica) - A 'tropical' plant that grows in our Zone 8A climate.

OK, so now we KNOW we're in a Zone 8.  The question now remains, are we a Zone 8A or a Zone 8B?  Personally, I think we tend to "teeter" between the two.  When we look at other areas on the Island though, I come to the conclusion that Campbell River is a SOLID Zone 8A.  For instance, Victoria is a Zone 8B, and they do indeed have fairer weather than we do, as well as a longer growing season.  Their flowers bloom a bit earlier than ours do in the Spring, and the leaves fall a bit later in Autumn.

So there you have it!  Campbell River has a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone of "8A".  Take advantage of our mild climate and see what you can get away with growing here!
 

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