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Spring & Fall Planting Almanac

Planting Calendar by Zip Code

When To Start Planting Seeds

Not sure when to plant? Our interactive seed starting calculator creates a planting guide by ZIP code to help you decide when to plant vegetables, flowers, and herbs in your garden in spring or fall.

To use the guide, enter your ZIP code and select the planting schedule you want to work with. The options are based on your USDA plant hardiness zone plus your first and last average frost dates.

  1. 10% Chance of Frost. (Default) Generally, this setting will give you the best time to plant vegetables, especially seeds that are sensitive to cold or frost.
  2. 30% Chance of Frost. Useful for cold-hardy, frost-tolerant varieties or anything that you want to start a little bit early for a long growing season. Be sure to protect your seedlings if there’s a cold snap!
  3. 50% Chance of Frost. Most useful for winter sowing perennials or for those who use cold frames, greenhouses, or other specialized setups. Recommended only for experienced gardeners who are familiar with their landscape and microclimate.


Planting Tips

Some types of plants do not like to be transplanted, usually because they have taproots or a delicate root system. These seeds should be planted directly into their final growing location.

Some seeds need the cold and moisture of winter to germinate. You can mimic these conditions by cold stratifying your seeds in the refrigerator for several weeks prior to sowing.

Some seeds have thicker seed coatings that can benefit from soaking prior to planting. Follow the directions on your seed packet to see if you need to soak or scarify your seeds.

Each different type of seed has a different period of germination. Environment can play an important part in the length of germination. Check the instructions on your packet for estimated germination times.

Plants require light to grow and some seeds require light to germinate, however you don't need fancy expensive grow lights to start seeds indoors. A bright light, whether LED or fluorescent placed about 2 inches above seed starting trays will work.

When you start seeds indoors, the seedlings are delicate and not used to the outdoor environment. Before transplanting your seedlings outside, it is a good idea to gradually expose them to the elements starting with a few hours working up to a full day over the course of a few days. This will make them stronger and increase survivability.

If you have more gardening and seed starting questions, you might want to check out our:

Tomato seedlings in seed starter trays

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