Growing Seasons & Weather

Connect Growing Seasons & Weather to your Curriculum

  • Click Here for a  What's With this Weather? activity to engage your Grade 4-12 students in learning about how local weather and climate determine growing seasons for plants.
  • Click Here for a Weather Faux-Yoga and Other Moves activity to engage your PreK-Grade 4 student in learning about weather in the garden.
  • Click Here for a Dust Bowl activity to engage students in learning about the Dust Bowl and practicing soil conservation in the garden. 


Weather & Climate

Climate has a significant impact on the range (geographical area where a species can be found) of plants. The United States Department of Agriculture developed a map of  plant hardiness zones to help guide farmers and gardeners in crop selection and timing.  Plant hardiness zones are geographically defined areas in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions (mostly a plant’s ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone). For example, a plant that is described as "hardy to zone 10" means that the plant can withstand a minimum temperature of 30°F. A more resilient plant that is "hardy to zone 9" can tolerate a minimum temperature of 20°F.
Kansas has three plant hardiness zones, stretching in bands from Southwest to Northeast across the state (see resources section for zone map and planting calendar). When purchasing seeds & plants for your garden, it’s important to know what zone you live in and select plants that are appropriate for your zone. Seed manufacturers will often include a zone map on the seed packet, with specific planting instructions for each zone.  For example, if you live in SE Kansas (Zone III) the average last frost date is Mid-April, whereas in NW Kansas (Zone I), the last frost typically occurs in the last few days of April. You may grow the same kinds of lettuce in both zones, but if you live in Zone III may plant your lettuce seeds approximately two weeks earlier than Zone I.
While the extremes of winter cold measured in plant hardiness zones are a major factor in determining whether or not a plant can survive, several other factors must be considered.  Wind, sunlight, humidity, daily temperature fluctuations, soil moisture and rainfall will also impact the growth of garden plants. Many of these factors are specific to your site, and some will vary even within your site. Tree cover, slope, and proximity to buildings & parking areas can affect a garden’s exposure to wind, sunlight, daily temperature fluctuations, and rainfall.




Additional Information on Kansas Planting Season Zones, Planting Calendar, Fall Gardens, and Season Extension can be downloaded below. These excerpts from the Kansas Gardening Guide are provided, with permission, from K-State Research & Extension.   Charles W. Marr, Ted Carey, Raymond Cloyd, and Megan Kennelly, Kansas Garden Guide, Kansas State University, March 2010.