When is the best time to plant?

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — We’re all stuck inside practicing our social distancing, and we’re looking for things to do. The temperatures are showing signs (at times) of turning the corner.

Spring is in the air. Some trees are starting to bloom, the grass is turning green and growing. Can you maybe get a jump-start on some gardening?

Statistically, the answer is no. While some plants and vegetables can withstand limited stints of colder temperatures, the old saying is: “Wait until Mother’s Day to plant.”

Mother’s Day falls on Sunday, May 10, this year, but when traditionally is our last frost of the year? Below is a map of the average last date of a low temperature of 32° or colder.

Courtesy: MRCC

But it’s important to note, that even with most of central Indiana averaging mid-April for our last frost/freeze, plant-damaging cold temperatures could last well into the end of April and even deep into the month of May. The records below show most reporting stations across our area for the latest frost/freeze aren’t just in May, but are very late in May.

Courtesy: NWS Indianapolis

The growing season is defined as the time between the last frost/freeze of the cold season, and the first freeze at the end of the warm season. Looking back at the last 10 years, we’ve actually been ahead of schedule to the growing season for the majority of years. Last year, our last freeze was on April 1.

For April, we begin the month with an average low of 38. By the end of the month, our average low is in the upper 40s.

Looking ahead, the Climate Prediction Center forecast for the month calls for a 30-40% chance of above-average temperatures.

Courtesy: Climate Prediction Center

So bottom line, if you are looking to get a jump-start on gardening, especially annuals, it’s best to wait a few more weeks at least.