Ask an Expert: Frost, Freeze...what's it all mean?

When you just can't wait to garden, patience can wear thin when you want to get out there and start gardening, but it can be tricky knowing when's too soon (it's one of our most-asked garden questions). So our Garden experts are breaking down exactly what it means when we say to wait until our area's frost/freeze-free dates. 

Frost Vs. Freeze

Frost Advisories are typically issued when temperatures are expected to fall to about 36°F down to 32°F.

Freeze Warnings are typically issued when temperatures are expected to fall below 32°F.

Tender Vs. Hardy Plants

Tender plants, like annuals, veggies and herbs, can survive a frost with protection, but are not likely to survive a freeze, so it's best to wait until your area's frost-free date.

Hardier plants that are used to cooler temperatures, like most trees, perennials and shrubs, should survive both a frost and a freeze, so these can be planted earlier than tender plants.

Some annuals (pansies, ranunculus, violas, stock, etc) and veggies (seed potatoes, onion sets, broccoli, cabbage, etc) are more cool-tolerant, and can withstand lower temperatures. You can often be plant these sooner, such as around early-mid april.

How to Protect Your Tender Plants in Case of Frost or Freeze

Provide protection for your tender plants, by covering them with sheets, blankets or Harvest Guard. Remove them once the weather has warmed. 

Move your planted containers to areas of protection, like under a porch or in the garage.

The safest thing you can do is move your tender plants inside, especially during a freeze.

When's our area's frost free date?

Our area's average frost-free date is the end of April, this is typically when we're in the clear. But our hard frost-free date is around the second week of May. This is when you're officially in the clear.