Would you like to start gardening? The first thing you need to know is your USDA cold hardiness zone. People all over the world use USDA hardiness zones. Even though their country doesn't show on the map, they can compare their climates and decide on a US zone that matches their conditions. Here’s why:

It’s going to affect your choice of plants:
Cold winters can kill off your plants. Before you begin designing and planting your garden, you need to know which plants will be able to survive in your climate. In some cases, winters aren’t cold enough for plants that prefer a bit of chill. Either way, finding out which hardiness zone you’re in will be useful tool in making informed planting choices and experiencing the rewards of gardening success. Luckily, you won’t have to research every single plant to see if it fits in with your conditions. A good plant supplier will be able to tell you which zones are most suitable for the plants you’re considering buying and whether you’ll need to go to any extra effort to protect them from the cold. If you’re in a warm zone, you still need to know if your seeds or bulbs will need cold-treatment prior to planting to ensure reliable flowering.

It may affect the time you choose for planting:
The last thing you want is to see your newly planted annuals and bulbs getting burnt by a sharp spring frost. In colder zones, it may be wisest to delay planting until the last danger of frost has passed. How will you know when this will be? By learning more about your local climate, of course. You don’t have to collect all the data, the USDA has already done so for you. It will tell you how you should treat your flower bulbs There are two factors that might result in a need for a bit of extra-special treatment for your flower bulbs: a need for cold treatment before planting and the need to protect dormant bulbs by lifting and storing them. Once again, your USDA zone gives you the information you need.

1. Chilling
For example, you may want to plant tulips in your garden, but if you live in a hot climate, your tulips need to be cold-treated before their autumn planting. 

2. Lifting and storing
Storing bulbs for replanting is an economical way of making sure they keep coming back year after year, but is it even necessary? Can’t you just leave them in place? Rainfall plays a role – you don’t want your dormant bulbs to rot in soggy soil during dormancy - but temperature is another deciding factor. For instance, those of us who live in warmer climates can leave their Calla Lilies in the ground when they’re dormant in winter provided the soil isn’t going to be too wet, but if you live in a chilly zone, you’ll have to lift them and store them or they’ll freeze to death.

When in doubt, ask! Any grower worth their salt can give you the correct information on how, when and what to plant provided they know your USDA cold-hardiness zone. Ask for help when you need it!