First and last frost dates (and why they matter)

Looking to tend to your garden this winter? Here's what you should know.

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First and last frost dates should be just as important in a gardener's calendar as Christmas or your partner's birthday. Understanding these as part of your garden timing will help you avoid frost damage to your plants and flowers in the spring weather.

What is a frost date in gardening?

Frost dates refer to days when temperatures fall to 0°C or lower, which is cold enough to damage or kill your plants. Understanding these timelines lets you know when the optimal growing season is. The last frost date in Spring signifies the end of the cold snap and a good time to start your new garden (especially if you’re planting veggies).

Frost dates are important to note, as the first signs of Spring can be difficult to spot for many gardeners who are starting their seed plan. A great way to prepare for this is by understanding when to plant.

In many cases, this means getting plants in the ground when the average last frost date passes. This will change based on your area but is a crucial first step to ensure you enjoy a successful spring garden.

Read on to understand more about frost dates and why they are important.

What is the first and last frost date?

The last frost date references the final spring frost in your location, while the first frost date signifies the beginnings of spring frost. The date and temperature will vary greatly depending on your state and elevation. Whether you’re in an urban or rural environment also plays a role. Urban areas heat up quickly in Spring, and as a result, the last frost dates can change by a few days or even a week. 


Location 

Last frost date

Aberdeen

1-10 May

Aberystwyth

11-20 May

Barnsley

11-20 April

Basingstoke

1-10 May

Bath

1-21 March

Belfast

1-10 April

Birmingham

21-30 April

Bournemouth

11-20 April

Bradford

21-30 April

Bristol

11-20 March

Cambridge

11-20 April

Cardiff

11-20 March

Carlisle

11-20 May

Derby

1-10 May

Derry

21-31 March

Dumfries

21-30 April

Dundee

1-10 April

Durham

1-10 April

Edinburgh

1-10 May

Exeter

1-10 May

Falmouth

21-31 March

Glasgow

1-10 April

Gloucester

11-20 March

Greenwich

21-31 March

Harrogate

21-30 April

Hereford

21-30 April

Holyhead

21-31 March

Hull

21-30 April

Inverness

21-30 April

Leeds

21-30 April

Liverpool

21-30 April

London

11-21 March

Londonderry

21-31 March

Manchester

1-10 April

Margate

21-30 April

Newcastle Upon Tyne

21-30 April

Newquay

21-31 March

Norwich

1-10 April

Nottingham

1-10 May

Oxford

21-30 April

Penzance

21-31 March

Peterborough

21-30 April

Plymouth

21-31 March

Preston

21-30 April

Reading

1-10 May

Rhyl

1-10 April

Saint Helens

21-30 April

Sheffield

21-30 April

Southampton

11-21 April

St Ives

11-21 March

Stirling

21-30 April

Sunderland

11-21 April

Swansea

21-31 March

Telford

11-21 May

Torquay

21-30 April

Truro

21-31 March

Tyneside

21-30 April

Watford

21-30 April

West Bromwich

21-30 April

Westminster

21-30 March

Weymouth

11-21 March

Wolverhampton

1-10 May

Yeovil

11-21 March

York

1-10 May


By getting the timing right, your initial plantings will be protected from cold temperatures, ensuring they have the best chance to not only survive but thrive.

leaves with frost

How does the last frost affect vegetables?

The last frost date in Spring determines when the first seeds of your new plantings will germinate. During Spring, the nights reach temperatures too cold for new vegetable plants to survive in.

Spring crops like lettuce, carrots, cabbage, spinach, and radishes may be able to withstand colder temperatures. However, warmer-season crops like cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers will struggle. 

💡 Pro tip: Most seed packets will reference planting guidelines based on the last frost date. By understanding more about your climate, you can plan with this information.

How do you find your specific last frost date?

Understanding first and last frost dates is much easier for gardeners today, thanks to the many online resources available. For example, Plant Maps offers the easiest way to understand your UK region's average annual temperatures. 

Last frost date data is based on historically averaged temperatures. As a result, there is a slight chance that frost can occur after the dates listed, creating frost damage on plants. We recommend building in a little buffer to allow for this if you are worried about plant damage.

Always keep an eye on the weather forecast as well. Seed guidelines are available to work from your last frost date, and with the right timing, you'll enjoy a bountiful spring garden!

cabbage with frost

How do you know when it's the last frost?

There are many online resources that will help you understand the first and last frost dates for your area. The National Weather Service often tracks this data as well. It is important to know that no matter where this information comes from, there can be a slight variation in the actual date due to changing and unpredictable weather patterns.

What plants are sensitive to frost?

A range of tender plants and edibles can be very sensitive to frost. This may include: 

Fruits & Vegetables

  • Avocados

  • Citrus trees

  • Tomatoes

  • Pumpkins

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Cucumber

  • Okra

  • Eggplant

  • Corn

  • Peppers

Plants & Flowers

  • Fuchsia

  • Bougainvillaea

  • Begonias

  • Impatiens

  • Geraniums 

  • Succulents

  • Tropical plants

If you are planning on planting any of these, be sure to find out when the last frost dates are in your area, so you can ensure their survival by planting afterward.

A warm garden is a happy garden

There are many different things to be aware of to ensure your garden thrives; it's one of the reasons why we have the gardening hub, a place for helpful resources to help you have the greenest of thumbs.

If you need an extra hand in the garden, plenty of Airtasker gardening experts could be of service. From general yard work to other outdoor areas that need attention like pool maintenance, there is always a Tasker ready and willing to help.

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