will frost kill vegetable seeds

will frost kill vegetable seeds

Will Frost Kill Vegetable Seeds?

Many gardeners are hesitant to plant their vegetable seeds in cold weather, as they fear frost may be damaging to the fresh seeds. But the truth is, frost might not be as damaging as you think.

The Effects of Frost on Seeds

Frost can be damaging to mature plants as it interrupts the metabolic processes and decreases freeze resistance, but it has a different effect on seeds. The truth is, most seeds will be unaffected by temperatures that dip down to 29°F/-1.7°C. A few species will still germinate after temperatures drop to as low as 23°F/-5°C.

Why Don’t Frost Affect Newly Planted Seeds?

Tissue that is already living is far more susceptible to damage from freezing temperatures than tissue that is still at the resting stage. As the tissue of seeds is at the resting stage before sprouting, it is resistant to the colder temperatures.

How to Plant Seeds in Cold Weather

If you’ve been preparing your vegetable garden for a one-time cold period, then it’s a great idea to plant seeds early. Here are a few tips to ensure that your seeds lend themselves best to colder conditions:

  • Choose Cold-Tolerant Seeds Many vegetables, such as lettuces and kale are hardy and deal with cold better than other species.
  • Cover with a Cloche Place a cloche over the seeds to help retain heat and protect them from the elements.
  • Water Lightly To prevent seeds from washing out of the soil, water lightly with a fine mist.


If temperatures are expected to dip below 32°F/0°C, it’s best to avoid planting your vegetable seeds until the weather warms up. However, if a cold spell is expected to last just a few days, don’t worry! Most vegetable seeds are protected against frost and can be planted without worry.

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