Understanding Frost Dates

March 24, 2023
Adams Fairacre Farms

Before you begin planting your garden, you need to know the last and first frost dates in your region so that you plant at the right time. What is a frost date? A frost date is the average date of the last frost in spring or the first frost in fall or winter. Frost occurs when air temperatures reach freezing: 32 Fahrenheit. However, a frost can occur even when air temperatures are just above freezing. Frost can damage young and newly planted plants, the new growth on established plants. and can affect harvesting. If you are planting tender or warm season plants, you should do so after the last frost date in spring and before the first frost in fall or winter.

Frost Dates

Regional last and first frost dates are an average estimate based on historical climate data and are not foolproof or exact. So in addition to knowing published frost dates, it’s prudent to always be aware of your local weather forecast and be watchful for those nighttime temperatures.

To ensure the safety of your tender plants and fall harvests, you might want to adjust the average frost dates that are published for your region. Consider planting two weeks later in spring and two weeks earlier for fall/winter to protect your plants from unexpected and abnormal cold temperatures. And, it’s important to know the difference between a frost and a freeze because some plants can tolerate a light frost but cannot tolerate a freeze.

Know Your Plant Hardiness Zone

Another important garden planning tool is to be familiar with the hardiness zone in which you live. This information is useful both in terms of knowing when to sow seeds and the right time to plant annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs that are likely to survive the winter. The Hudson Valley is in the 5-6 hardiness zone range. You can easily search for your exact zone on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map . It is and interactive map that allows you to see cold hardiness zones at the local zip code, state, regional and national level.

If you’re not sure when it’s safe to plant you specific items outside, our knowledgeable Greenhouse and Nursery staff can provide you expert advice.

Information courtesy of TheSpruce.com