When To Sow & Set Out Transplants: {Reference}

Here’s a handy chart to help you determine when to get vegetables into the ground. They’re divided into two groups: Cool-Season and Warm-Season with each having varieties that are hardier than the rest (these are noted by color in the chart below).

First, here’s an introduction to both:

Seedling TrayCool-Season: Most are frost-tolerant and can tolerate below freezing temperatures (some only short term). They thrive in cool weather with most seeds needing the cold temperature to germinate.

Transplants should be hardened off a minimum of 7 days before planting to help them adjust to the cold weather. It’s also recommended to let them dry out between waterings during the hardening off period and to stop fertilizing them.

Warm-Season: These are not frost-tolerant and are more tender, they require waiting until the last frost date has passed. Some are more delicate than others and require waiting at least one to two weeks after the last frost.

Seedlings should be hardened off outdoors before planting. They may be planted sooner with some protection (cold frames, cloches), allow the chosen method to first heat the soil a few days before planting.

The chart below is a general guideline only, use this to determine what can be planted early and what needs to wait. Research your local zone to determine how much earlier you can plant as some climates are harsher than others right up to the last frost date so it’s impossible to give more definitive dates.

Cool-Season Crops

When to plant: 2 to 4 weeks before frost-free date

Asparagus Beets Broccoli Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage Carrots Cauliflower Celery
Chard Chicory Chives Collards
Endive Garlic Horseradish Kale
Kohlrabi Leek Lettuce Mustard
Onion Parsnip Parsley Peas
Potatoes (white) Radishes Rhubarb Rutabaga
Salsify Scallions Spinach Swiss Chard

Color Code: Blue = Hardy; White = Half-hardy.

Warmer zones may fine that “Hardy” varieties can be planted up to 6 weeks before the last frost.

Warm-Season Crops

When to plant: 1 to 2 weeks after last frost

Artichoke Beans (lima) Beans (shell) Beans (snap)
Cantaloupe Corn Cowpea Cucumber
Eggplant Luffa Gourd Melon New Zealand Spinach
Okra Peanuts Peppers Pumpkin
Soybean Squash Sweet Potatoes Tomatillo
Tomato Watermelon Zucchini

Color Code: Blue = Tender; White = Very Tender.

Warmer zones will find they can plant “Tender” varieties on the last frost date or right after, others will need to wait a week or two.

To help plan your schedule, you’ll find the average dates for last Spring frost here for the United States (National Climate Data Center) and here for Canada (The Old Farmer’s Almanac).


  • Knott’s Handbook for Vegetable Growers by Donald N. Maynard and George J. Hochmuth
  • Better Homes & Gardens Vegetable, Fruit & Herb Gardening
  • Growing With Gardening by Bibby Moore and Kendal Brown

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    • Frances Daniel

    I have a large empty back yard and want to start landscaping when is the best time to start planting or what Is the first step to start?

      • Jennifer

      It depends on what you want to plant. Fruit trees, berry bushes, peonies, flowering bulbs, & even garlic all do better planted in the early fall. Wildflowers, roses, shrubs do better in spring. Get rid of grass & weeds in your planting areas & add organic compost or fertilizer to your worked soil. If you are approaching winter, throw veggie scraps on top of grass, layer with animal manure, cardboard, & straw. Come back to the patch in the spring & the worms will have done the hardworking for you!

      • Doug

      One very important consideration is the condition of your property. For example: Is there a mat of lawn grass that will have to be shaved off and removed? St. Augustine grass is an ideal matting, lawn protective grass; however, for that reason, it must be removed from the surface to allow soil preparation. Is the soil deeply compacted, requiring deep tilling before bed or row preparation? Is irrigation readily available or will plumbing be added?

    • Tina

    In the fall is a great time to prep the garden.
    Till natural elements such as leaves and pine needles.
    It helps with unwanted grasses. Water with plant
    Food to add nutrient to the garden .

    • Linda McCormack

    I have tomato , cuke and beet seedlings. Can I plant these directly into garden after last frost date or do I need to repot in potting soil?

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