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This wide ribbon of land wanders down the coast from Santa Barbara to San Diego. The climate is influenced by the Pacific Ocean some of the time. Generally mild winters and summers favor a wide variety of plants, including subtropicals such as plumeria. The closer to the ocean you live, the cooler the summers are. In the San Gabriel Valley, warmer temperatures and alluvial soils (riverbed soils) create optimum conditions for plants of all sorts. Here, botanical gardens are strung like pearls along the base of the San Gabriel Mountains-Descanso Gardens in La Canada, the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, and the Arboretum

of Los Angeles County in Arcadia-as are commercial nurseries.

Zone 20: Cool winters in Southern California's areas of occasional ocean influence, The weather of these cold-air basins and hilltops is influenced by the ocean and inland air. Includes Burbank, Escondido, Glendale, Ojai, Ramona, Zone 21: Thermal belts in Southern California's areas of occasional ocean influence, Winter temperatures here sel­ dom drop much below 30°F/-1°C, making this prime citrus-growing country. Includes Azusa, Covina, Fillmore, La Canada, Lakeside, Pasadena, Thousand Oaks, Moorpark, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Santa Paula,

Zone 22: Cold-winter portions of Southern California's coastal climate, This area, which includes pockets to the east of the coast and deep coastal canyons, gets ocean influence 85 percent of the time; winter lows seldom drop below 28°F/-2°C. Subtropicals can grow here under protective tree canopies and overhangs, Lack of pronounced winter chill limits the use of deciduous plants such as flowering cherry and lilac. Includes Anaheim, Buena Park, Downey, Inglewood, Irvine, Lakewood, Los Angeles, Montebello, Norwalk, Orange, Santa Ana,

Zone 23: Thermal belts of Southern California's coastal climate, The Pacific Ocean influences this region, just inland from the coast, most of the time, But cooling fogs don't reach here as often as they do beach communities, It's one of the best regions in North America to grow subtropicals such as avocados, gardenias, and proteas, But it lacks the summer heat and winter cold needed to grow most apples and peaches, Includes Beverly Hills, Camarillo, EI Cajon, Fallbrook, Hollywood, La Mesa, Mission Viejo, Pacific Palisades, San Juan Capistrano, Whittier; Vista,

Zone 24: Marine influence along the Southern California coast. This region stretches along the beaches to the bluffs; where beachside hills are low to nonexistent, it runs inland for several miles. Its climate is almost com­ pletely determined by the Pacific Ocean, Summers are cool, and the air is seldom dry. Especially in June, the sun rarely breaks through a layer of fog until early afternoon, Very tender plants such as fuchsias thrive here, Includes Del Mar; Laguna Beach, La Jolla, Long Beach, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Oceanside, Oxnard, Palos Verdes, San Clemente, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica,


Encompassing the center of Southern Califor­ nia from just south of the Tehachapis to the Mexican border, these interior climates are influenced mostly by the continental air mass, not the Pacific Ocean. Winters are generally colder than in the coastal climates to the south

and west, and summers are hotter.

Zone 18: Above and below the thermal belts in South­ ern California's interior valleys. There's enough winter chill here for plants that need it-tree peonies and many apple varieties-but it's not too cold for hardy subtropi­ cals such as cymbidiums, citrus, and some avocado vari­ eties. Includes Chino, Newhall, Ontario, Redlands, San Fernando, Van Nuys, Woodland Hills. Higher elevations, such as Julian, Lake Arrowhead, and Idyllwild, have a great deal in common with Zone 7, which lies to the north.

Zone 19: Thermal belts around Southern California's interior valleys. This area is little influenced by the ocean, but its winters are slightly warmer than neighboring Zone 18. It's a poor climate for fuchsias, rhododendrons, and tuberous begonias, but many sections have always been prime for growing citrus. And some frost-tender plants such as bougainvillea, Mexican blue palm, and several pittosporums will grow here. Includes Chatsworth, Claremont, Hemet, Pomona, parts of Riverside.


Sunset Climate Zones 10, I I, 13

Much of California's southeastern corner is desert. But here, as elsewhere, elevation influ­ ences the amount of winter cold, hence the kinds of plants you can grow. The low desert, ranging from below sea level in the Imperial Valley and Death Valley to 450 feet above sea level in the Coachella Valley, has short, mild winters and a subtropical climate. Plants that thrive here include bauhinia, bougainvillea, citrus, and date palms.

The high deserts, which include Lancaster (2,500 feet), have cold winters and hot sum­ mers, dry conditions, wind, and even snow at times. But spring wildflowers can be splendid.

Zones 10, I I: High and medium to high desert areas. These zones consist mostly of the higher elevations of the California desert. Both zones have cold winters and hot summers. A pronounced winter season makes it possible to grow deciduous fruits here, though late frosts can work against apricots. The cold winter calls for spring planting. Zone 10, which includes Ridgecrest and Victor­ ville, gets more rainfall and less heat than Zone I I. In Zone I I, which includes Barstow, Lancaster, and Palmdale, winds and bright sunlight can dry out normally hardy evergreen plants if soil moisture is inadequate.

Zone 13: Low or subtropical desert areas. Winters are short and mild. Spring is glorious, if windy at times, and summers are hot. The gardening year starts in September and October for most vegetable crops and annual flowers; corn and melons are planted in winter. Includes Borrego, EI Centro, Indio, Palm Springs.


Sunset Climate Zones I A, 2A, 2B, 3A Arching across the top of the state and then wandering south along its eastern border, California's mountain and intermountain

areas are its coldest. From the Trinity Alps and the Sierra Nevada to the Tehachapis and San Gabriels, this region divides up into sub­ climates according to winter temperature lows. Elevation, of course, is a major factor; the higher you go, the colder it gets.

Zone I A: Coldest mountain and intermountain areas. This zone is marked by a short growing season and relatively mild summer temperatures (often with chilly nights). If your

garden gets dependable snow cover, you can grow some of the perennials listed for slightly warmer zones. Hardy ever­ greens and tough deciduous trees are a garden's backbone here; warm-season crops should be limited to short-season varieties. Includes Susanville, Truckee.

Zone 2A: Cold mountain and intermountain areas. Snowy winters are the norm here, too, but these pockets are relatively mild compared with areas around them. Winter temperatures usually hover between 10°F/-12°C and 20°F/-7°C at night, and growing seasons are short (100 to 150 days). Includes Quincy in the north and the high-elevation parts of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Zone 2B: Warmer-summer intermountain climate. This zone offers a good balance of long, warm summers and chilly winters. Winter temperatures are milder than in Zone 2a. Includes Big Bear, South Lake Tahoe, Yreka.

Zone 3A: Mild mountain and intermountain climates. This zone includes higher elevations of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains. Winter minimum temper­ atures average 15° to 25°F/-9° to -40C; its frost-free growing season runs from 150 to 186 days. Deciduous fruit trees thrive here.

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