How to Determine Spring Planting Time for Your Garden

Newly planted spring vegetable garden.

Determining when to plant in the spring can be harder than predicting the ups and downs of the stock market. Part science and part superstition, deciding when to plant is the biggest decision of the year if you farm for a living. For the rest of us, it usually just means a little extra work and another stop at the nursery if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Each region of the country is different, and even within a specific area there may be large fluctuations due to factors like altitude and terrain. That said, the average date of the last spring frost and recommended times to put out summer plants like tomatoes and corn in the lower 48 states are given below.

Region Average Last Freeze Plant Summer Garden
Gulf Coast February 1 – March 1 March 1 – April 1
Southeast March 1 – April 1 March 15 – April 15
Midwest April 1 – May 1 April 7 – May 7
North May 1 – June 1 May 15 – June 15

For more detailed information, check out the maps on these websites:

  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
  • Avant-Gardening US Frost Zone Map
  • Better Homes & Gardens Spring Frost Zone Map

11 COMMENTS

  1. I know there are several plants that repel insects naturally for around the patio. I’d love to know what they are and when to plant them.

  2. Citronella (mosquitos) , marigolds,African Blue Basil,Rosemary, mints and or anise oil/licorice (fennel) bearing plants…most herbs will give off aromatic as well as insect repelling aromas…if need be crush a few leaves to release the essential oils into the atmosphere, the atomization of the oils will aid in the repelling process. Tiki torches w/citronella oil are effective and somewhat romantic. Experiment until you discover what woks best for you. Good Luck

  3. can you give me a list of flowers and shrubs that will bloom all summer and fall in the cold wisconsin weather send me a list of those that will not freeze out

  4. I loved the Carolina Jasmine that Chelsea planted for the trellis around her air conditioner. I have a beautiful Jasmine on my fence, and it is blooming now. I am sure she will love it. I enjoy all of your shows, especially when I see my son or grandchildren on them.

  5. How is the best way to determine soil temperature? I know by a thermometer, but where does one get a soil thermometer?

    • Hi, Bill,
      Absolutely! It’s true that planting guidelines vary from zone to zone.
      What works in one area doesn’t necessarily work in another area.
      We recommend checking guidelines for specific zones.
      Thanks for your comment!

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