LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)– Out with the cold, in with the new. Spring officially started two weeks ago after a series of cold snaps left many Louisiana gardens bare. Now it’s time to get back in the dirt.

What is a hardiness zone?

The United States Department of Agriculture breaks down the U.S. into hardiness zones. A hardiness zone helps categorize regions based on their climate conditions including local temperatures, annual rainfall and average light for our area.

This system rates regions from 1 (coldest) to 13 (warmest). Each zone is separated by a 10-degree Fahrenheit difference in average annual minimum temperatures. Each zone is also further divided into subzones (a and b) based on minor variations.

The Acadiana area falls into region 9a on this scale, according to the LSU AgCenter, putting us in an optimal position for year-round growing seasons.

What grows well in 9a?

  • Annuals: Begonias, Impatiens, Marigolds, Vincas, Zinnias, Vegetables

LSU AgCenter identifies annuals as the best plants to add a pop of color to your garden. Annuals complete their life cycle in one growing season before dying.

There are both cool- and warm-season annuals. Warm-season annuals grow best in 70 to 90 degree weather. Gardeners in Acadiana should lean towards warm season annuals as temperatures are already in the mid-70s to 80s. These plants will bloom from late spring until first frost.

Although annuals are good for introducing some fun color to your garden, their upkeep can be taxing. These plants require more fertilizer and removal of dead or dying flowers .

  • Perennials:  Perennial verbena, Butterfly bush, Mexican heather, Coneflower, Iris, Daylilies

Perennials are good plants for those with less time to spend in their garden. Perennials typically have a lifespan of two or more years. They do not require annual replanting. They come back on their own each year.

The LSU AgCenter says although perennials may cost more upfront, they are more cost effective compared to annuals that must be repurchased and replanted annually.

Perennials have various blooms, colors and textures to add constant interest to a garden. They are also considered more low maintenance.

  • Vines and groundcovers: Monkey grass, Creeping lily turf, Liriope, Trumpet creeper, Chinese wisteria

The beauty of any craft, like gardening, is in the details. Vines and groundcovers are good for filling space and drawing the eye to different areas of the garden.

The vertical growth of vines will draw the eye upward. Groundcovers use their spreading habits to cover larger areas. They are a good alternative to grass in lower-maintenance lawns. This makes these plants time and cost-saving.