The Iowa Gardener: What to plant and when in Iowa

The Iowa Gardener: What to plant and when in Iowa

Basil seedlings (Dreamstime/TNS)

I normally scratch my head when individuals say, “I acquired my back garden in this weekend!” Planting in Iowa can start in March and finishes in November. What back garden, particularly, are they speaking about?

I know, I know. They’re most likely talking about their vegetable garden, with heat-period annuals like tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers. Seedlings of those people are generally planted outside at the same time in late spring.

But statements like that replicate an unwell-conceived notion that there is just one particular time to plant in Iowa. Not so! And thank goodness, mainly because usually it would be exhausting. As a substitute, during nearly every thirty day period of the 12 months, there is planting — indoors or out — that can be finished, dependent on the plant and its stage of growth.

For spring planting, it’s very important to keep 1 date in brain: your region’s very last ordinary frost date. In Cedar Rapids, which is all-around May well 10.


  • Get started seeds indoors of slower-escalating annuals that you really should get started 10 to 12 months right before the previous common frost date. These consist of snapdragons, yearly salvias and impatiens.
  • After you can very easily operate the soil outside, plant straight in the ground seeds of speedy-germinating, cool-year greens, such as radishes, spinaches and lettuces.
  • Divide any perennials that are an inch or so superior and never bloom in extremely early spring.
  • The previous 7 days of March or initially 7 days of April, commence seeds indoors of annuals that you ought to get started 6 to 8 weeks just before the final normal frost day. These involve marigolds, globe amaranth, sweet alyssum and flowering tobacco.


  • The 1st week or so of the thirty day period, plant immediately in the ground simple, speedy-developing annuals that like neat climate, together with bachelor’s buttons, larkspur and California poppy.
  • Plant bare-root trees, shrubs and roses.
  • Plant container-developed trees, shrubs and roses.
  • Plant seedlings of amazing-season bouquets, such as pansies and snapdragons.
  • Plant seedlings of great-period veggies, this kind of as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
  • Plant seeds of cool-year vegetables, these types of as lettuces, spinach, greens, radishes and far more.
  • Plant individuals herbs that like interesting weather conditions, together with parsley and cilantro. You also can plant seedlings of perennial herbs, these kinds of as oregano, sage, and thyme outside now.
  • Plant peas from seed when lilac leaves are as major as a mouse’s ear, according to folk knowledge and dependent in science.
  • Plant potatoes on Great Friday, also according to people knowledge.
  • Plant grass seed and lay sod.
  • Plant seedlings of perennial bouquets.
  • Plant begins of perennial edibles, such as strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries and asparagus.
  • Divide perennials bouquets that bloom in late spring, summer months or slide.
  • The final 7 days or so of the month, start out seeds indoors of fast-growing yearly bouquets, if you want to give them a head commence. (Or else, start out them outside afterwards directly in the floor.) These involve sunflowers, cosmos, nasturtiums, zinnias and hollyhocks.

May possibly

Whenever in May:

  • Plant container-grown trees, shrubs, and roses.
  • Plant and divide perennial bouquets.
  • Plant grass seed and lay sod.
  • Divide perennials that bloom in late summer or slide.

Following the past typical frost day of May well 10:

  • Plant seedlings of warm-year once-a-year bouquets, these kinds of as marigolds, impatiens, petunias.
  • Plant seeds instantly in the ground of uncomplicated, rapid-expanding annuals that like warmer temperature, such as sunflowers, cosmos, nasturtiums, zinnias and hollyhocks.
  • Plant seedlings of warm-time once-a-year veggies, such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.
  • You also can plant seedlings of squashes, cucumbers and melons now. (Plant seeds of these a tiny later on, if you opt for to go that route. They want warm soil to germinate but are Alright to plant as seedlings now considering the fact that they require less warmth after by now started out.)
  • Plant seedlings of heat-year herbs, this sort of as basil.
  • Plant summer time-flowering tropical-sort bulbs and tubers, such as cannas, elephant’s ear, gladiolus and tuberous begonias.


  • Plant seeds that require hotter soil, such as corn, squash, cucumbers, green beans, and melons.
  • If necessary, plant grass seed.
  • Divide spring-blooming perennials, but stay away from executing so for the duration of sizzling, dry spells.
  • Lay sod.

July to August

  • Throughout this time, it is generally as well warm and dry to plant. If totally necessary, plant or divide on cooler, overcast days and h2o properly for the subsequent two months.
  • The exception is container plantings, considering that you are commonly at this place buying substantial, founded crops and placing them into the hugely managed surroundings of a container that you can continue to keep properly watered.


  • Slide, specifically suitable right before a wet spell is forecast, is the perfect time to plant grass seed. Water every day for about two to a few weeks until properly founded. September is also an best thirty day period to lay sod, as extensive as you hold it very well watered.
  • Divide and replant spring-blooming perennials.
  • If vital, plant perennials, trees, shrubs and container-grown roses now. On the other hand, they might have to battle by means of warm climate this thirty day period and also not have enough time to get established right before extremely cold weather conditions hits.
  • You can plant slide veggies, like lettuces, kale, radishes and other awesome-period veggies, but it can be difficult for them to prosper if it’s incredibly sizzling and dry.


  • Plant grass seed and lay sod the to start with half of the thirty day period.
  • Plant spring-blooming bulbs this thirty day period, the great time.
  • If essential, plant perennials. They may not have ample time to get set up, although, just before quite chilly temperature hits.


  • As long as the soil does not freeze and you can dig down deep ample, you can continue on to plant spring-blooming bulbs for the initial two months of this thirty day period, although it is not best.

Veronica Lorson Fowler is co-publisher of The Iowa Gardener site at

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