When To Plant A Garden In Iowa: The Ultimate Guide

Planting a vegetable garden in your yard can be exciting: imagine enjoying the fruits of your efforts by eating them! If you like veggies and fruits, you’ll realize that growing them at home is an experience that will change the way you value them. Indeed, home-grown vegetables taste nothing like those you buy at the supermarket. So, yes: all of the time spent in your garden trying to recreate the optimal conditions for their growth will be worth it. Let’s look at when to plant a garden in Iowa.

Don’t look further to learn when to plant a garden in Iowa. Here, you’ll find everything you must know about growing a vegetable garden in this region and how to make the most out of it.

Quick Answer

The last frost in Iowa happens around mid-April, so you can plant your vegetables in the spring. The exact planting dates will depend on what you’re growing and the climate where you live.

Plant care

When To Plant A Garden In Iowa

While taking care of your plants is crucial for their successful development (after all, you’ll need to give your veggies what they need to thrive), it is only part of the story. Indeed, if you don’t know when to transfer your plants outdoors (or when to sow their seeds), you might never get the crops you expect.

USDA Zones

Don’t forget that hardiness zones play a role in what you must do to take care of your plants. Iowa falls in USDA zones between 4 and 6, meaning it usually displays mild temperatures. Of course, the ideal time to plant a garden will also depend on what veggies you are planning to add to your yard. Keep that in mind as you go through this essential guide!


Despite sounding boring, planning is crucial for healthy and lush gardens! Don’t forget that you’ll have to start most of your plants’ seeds indoors when growing a vegetable garden in Iowa.

Ensure you have a starter soil mix, appropriate containers, and high-quality seeds on hand to get the most out of your seedlings. If necessary, consider getting a grow light to provide your plants with everything they need to grow without exposing them to direct sunlight.

When to Plant a Garden in Iowa: Our Tips

We mentioned how the ideal dates for planting a garden in Iowa depend on the type of vegetable you pick. Don’t forget that your local weather also plays a role: always check the forecast to avoid making mistakes, and don’t rely too much on average dates. Rember that the climate can drastically change from one year to the next.

But usually, the last frost in Iowa happens around mid-April. Make some calculations to plant when to start your seeds. But let’s go over what plants you can start each month.

January planting

January is too early for most plants, but you can sow oregano, lavender, or rosemary to enjoy them sooner in the growing season.


Start your bell peppers, cabbage, celery, and onions in February.


March is the best time to plant seeds for watermelon, broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin, squashes, and sweet potatoes. You can also sow these vegetables’ seeds directly in the soil (if the climate allows it). However, you might get better results by starting them indoors at the beginning of the month.


By mid-April, you should be able to transplant your seeds outdoors and sow the rest of them directly on the ground. Summer vegetables like beans, corn, cucumbers, and sunflowers all do better when you place them in the soil around the end of April. Ensure the temperatures are near 60F to avoid exposing them to conditions they won’t survive.

Fall planting

Of course, you can also plant a garden in the fall. But keep in mind that doing so might be more challenging: you will have the pressure of getting your crops mature and harvesting them before the first frost, which in Iowa falls around October.

Planning for a fall planting strategy involves thinking about how much time each variety needs between planting and picking. It also means that you’ll have to pay extra attention to your plants and take immediate action if you see something is off with them.

When To Plant A Garden In Iowa: Final thoughts

Don’t forget to research the vegetables and herbs you are planning to add to your yard: make sure you can give them what they need to thrive to get voluminous harvests.

Select plants that won’t struggle in the Iowa climate and ensure you place them in locations that will contribute to their healthy growth. If you are struggling with attacks from pests and diseases, consider getting some companion plants or plant your veggies next to herbs.