When to Start Indoor Vegetable Seeds

Meet Clare - an avid gardener, plant propagator and Atlanta-based Central Garden & Pet employee who will help us start vegetable seeds indoors for spring planting outdoors. A popular gardening technique, plant propagation, is the process of growing new plants from seeds, cuttings, bulbs and other plants or plant parts. For most of the country, the warm growing months of spring are still several weeks away and starting plants indoors is an easy way to get a head start on the season for longer germinating and maturing plants. However, when starting seeds indoors, timing is important, as the plants need to be large enough to transplant outdoors at their normal planting time.   Knowing when to start your seeds and transplant them outdoors will help to maximize your harvest. Unfortunately, there are no hard rules for this and is dependent on the climate for your particular area, but Clare will be providing lots of information and resources to help. First, let's find your zone by clicking on the map below. Clare is in Atlanta, so all of her posts correlate with Zone 7.

There are three things you should know before you get started with plant propagation:

  • Frost Date – The average last frost date for Zone 7 (reminder Clare is in Atlanta) is April 15th with a variance of 15 days in either direction. There is no sure fire way to predict the last frost so if you have already moved your garden outdoors and realize there may be frost, get your plastic and mulch ready!
  • Growing Time – This is the average number of weeks between planting seeds and transplanting seedlings. Each vegetable has a slightly different growing season, refer to your seed packets for more accurate information.
  • Planting Time – Warm-season vegetables can’t go outside until after the last spring frost date, where as cool-season vegetables can go outside up to 4 weeks before the last frost

Now that you've located your zone, use the zone calendar provided below to help plan when to start planting different fruits and vegetables.

Planting Zone 1

Planting Zone 2

Planting Zone 3

Planting Zone 4

Planting Zone 5

Planting Zone 6

Planting Zone 7

Planting Zone 8

Planting Zone 9