For years, gardeners have relied on the Plant Hardiness Zone Map published by the USDA to help understand what plants can survive in their area. Periodically the USDA updates the map, and the newest version was released in January of 2012.
The new map still shows Florida with the same four zones—8, 9, 10, and 11—but the borders between the zones have changed in places, as a result of the warming trend in our climate.
Several urban areas are now listed in warmer zones, including the Tampa Bay area, Orlando, and much of Gainesville.
This means that gardeners in these areas can now grow more tropical and sub-tropical plants than they would have decades before.
Remember that Florida's long summers, high humidity, and warm nights can affect a plant's ability to survive in the appropriate zone. So use the USDA plant zones as a guide, but consult your county Extension office for more detailed information.