I’ve traditionally used the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone to help decide what to plant and when. While it provides great information, as you probably know the zones cover a wide range of territory. Cincinnati is in zone 6A along with parts of California, for example. I’m not a scientist but I find it hard to believe that the same plants will grow successfully, while supporting local pollinators, in both Ohio and California.
In learning how to select native plants that will help the most, I’ve become focused on ecoregions in addition to plant zones.
The Pollinator Partnership provides handy guides for all the ecoregions in the United States. If you really want to help your local pollinators, take the time to find out what your region is and read up on it. (Cincinnati’s ecoregion is Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Continental) Province, FYI.)
Want to Learn More?
This article from Habitat Network provides a lot more information about zones versus ecoregions. It also some really interesting information about planning for the future because, more than likely, all of our zones will shift in response to climate changes. If you don’t want to read the article, Habitat Network also has a great resources page that makes it simply to find your zone, ecoregion, and more!