Gardening: After the Frost Date

Cary, NC – The Frost Date is the standard (or average) last day of frost in a particular region. This is of interest to gardeners, farmers and horticulturalists because tender plants can survive outdoors after this date has passed.

Frost Date in Cary

According to NC State Cooperative Extension, the frost date in our area passed on April 13th.

The standard deviation is 12 days. That means we could have our last frost up to twelve days prior, or as late as twelve days after, the official date.

Based on a quick look at, we seem to be in the clear for this year, with temperatures between 49 and 83 projected for the next 10 days.

That means it’s time to start thinking about summer plants.

Start in Pots and Hot Beds

Although the Frost Date has passed, the ground is still cold in much of the garden. Many summer plants do poorly in cold ground including tomatoes, marigolds and basil. There is little benefit in putting them in the ground unless you have a raised bed in full sun.

But the soil in pots and planters tends to warm more quickly than the ground. Get a jump on summer by starting tender plants in containers placed in a sunny spot.

Summer Favorites

Here are some favorite summer plants to brighten your Cary garden. Start them in pots now and transfer them to beds in about a month if so desired.


  • Marigolds
  • Petunias
  • Zinnias
  • Sunflowers
  • Impatiens
  • Coleus
  • Geraniums
  • Begonias
  • Snapdragons

More info at NCSU Annual Flowers for North Carolina.

Fruits, Vegetables & Herbs

  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Green Beans
  • Squash, Zucchini and Pumpkins
  • Okra
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Watermelon & Cantaloupes

More info at NCSU Vegetable Gardening: Spring Plant Guide .

Share Your Gardening Tips with other Cary Citizens

If you like to garden and can turn a pretty phrase, send your gardening stories to

You can post pictures at or on the Cary Flickr group.


Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul. – Luther Burbank

Story and photo by Hal Goodtree.

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