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What's the average last freeze, and when is it safe to plant?

Posted at 9:56 AM, May 05, 2022

COLORADO SPRINGS — In Colorado, when to plant is always a tough question. There are plenty of waypoints on the calendar that gardeners look towards, like Mother's Day, May 8th, or not until after all the foothills snow is melted. Experienced gardeners know, those are just guidelines.

Some gardeners go with the strategy of planting earlier, then cover or bring in pots during colder nights or late-season snow. Another strategy is just to wait until after these common calendar dates. And for most, a mix of both, with hearty planting early and more sensitive plants going in when the forecast is warm.

This season has been a bit unusual. April is typically the 2nd snowiest and 4th wettest month of the year in Colorado Springs. In 2022, it was warmer than average with no snow at lower elevations. We tied a 58-year-old record for the lowest liquid precipitation (rain and melted snow) with 0.01", based on data from the Airport METAR sensor, KCOS.

Average last freeze

On average, the last freeze of the season happens in Pueblo right around the 30th of April. Colorado Springs comes in with an average date of May 8th, that's why the general Mother's Day rule.

Canon City's average last freeze happens closer to May 3rd, with the last freeze of the season on the 8th of May for Colorado Springs.

Due to its higher elevation, Monument won't typically see its final freeze of the season until the middle of May.

Average Last Freeze - Southern Colorado
Average Last Freeze - Southern Colorado

When is the best time of the year to plant my garden?

When it comes to cold-hardy crops, such as kale, lettuce, cabbage and radishes, these are OK to plant as early as March or April.

These types of vegetables can survive during moderate freezes, but do not do as well when temperatures drop into the 10s.

Frost sensitive vegetables, such as zucchini, peppers, tomato and cucumbers, are best to plant after the final freeze of the season.

Best Time to Plant your Vegetables
Best time to plant vegetables in Southern Colorado

As cold weather comes to an end in May, planting frost sensitive crops based on these dates above should give your garden a chance to flourish.

However, a late season freeze can cause damage or even destroy sensitive plants or vegetables.

Watching the forecast is key to maintaining a healthy garden. When cold weather threatens, throw a sheet or light blanket over outdoor crops. Potted plants can be brought inside to prevent damage.

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