New Plant Hardiness Zone Map from USDA

The USDA has recently released a new hardiness zone map.  I have posted the map for Mississippi above.  Zones range from 7b in the north to 9a on the coast.  What does all this mean?  Well, all zones essentially went up one zone (or partial zone) warmer.  For example, Biloxi was zone 8b and now it is 9a.  The ramifications of this can be mild or profound depending on where you live.  It could mean fewer chilling hours causing erratic, and early, budbreak and bloom times.  It could lead to more frost injury in northern areas.  It could lead to poor fruit quality on plants growing in now hotter areas.  More diseases and insects?  You betcha.  On the plus side, we may be able to grow plants that previously could not grow — palm trees, tropical fruits, etc.

The warming climate has its pluses and minuses, just like most other things.  Some plants will no longer be successful where they once did well.  They will be replaced by others.  When can we start growing mangoes?