Knowing just the right time to plant your plants and veggies in the UK can be imperative in yielding an excellent crop. However, short of constantly checking the weather, it can be difficult to know when the last frost of the winter will be. Our short guide on the last frost dates in the UK will give you everything you need to know so you can prepare to get out and get planting! If you want to know a specific area of the UK, we have a list of towns and average last frost dates further down the page.
When Is The Last Frost Date in the UK?
We have put together a short list of some of the most commonly searched last frost locations in the UK. Check for a town near you.
|Newcastle Upon Tyne||21-30 April|
|Saint Helens||21-30 April|
|St Ives||11-21 March|
|West Bromwich||21-30 April|
What Is The Last Frost Date?
The last frost date is a date that is given to be considered as the last time an overnight frost will occur in your local area. This date is particularly important for gardeners and farmers because it signals when it is typically safe to plant frost-sensitive plants outdoors. The last frost date varies widely depending on geographic location, local climate patterns, and elevation.
Is the Last Frost Date Guaranteed?
No, the last frost date is not guaranteed. It is an estimate based on historical weather data and provides a general guideline rather than a definitive prediction. The actual occurrence of frost can vary significantly from year to year due to changing weather patterns. It is not uncommon for an unexpected frost to occur after the estimated last frost date, which can damage or kill tender plants if they are not protected.
What’s more, different areas of the UK will have different last frost dates. If you attempted to compare the temperature of the Cornwall coast with the last frost date in Inverness then you’d find a serious difference. Each area will have a rough last frost date that may fall up to two weeks outside of its opposite extreme.
How to Work Out the Last Frost Date?
For the most part, the last frost date will be determined as a mode average of the last XX number of years. When you use an average date, you should be aware that this is the date on which the last frost occurred for more than half of the years taken into account. However, it pays to be very cautious when using this approach since putting your vegetables outside before the last frost could be devastating for your plants.
How Does Frost Affect My Plants?
Frost can affect your plants in several ways, often with negative consequences, especially for tender vegetation that is not frost-tolerant. Here’s how frost can impact plants:
- Cell Damage: Frost causes the water in plant cells to freeze, which damages the cell walls. As the ice crystals form, they can puncture the structure of the cell, leading to cellular breakdown. When the ice melts, the cells may no longer be able to function properly, which can result in the wilting and death of the affected tissue.
- Desiccation: Frost can cause plants to dehydrate. Since the ground may also be frozen, the plant roots are unable to take up water to replace what is lost from the leaves and stems, leading to a condition similar to drought stress.
- Stunted Growth: Even if the plant doesn’t die from frost, the cold can stunt its growth. This is because the cold temperature affects the plant’s metabolism and its ability to carry out normal growth processes.
- Blossom and Fruit Damage: Frost is particularly damaging to blossoms and young fruits. It can cause them to blacken and die, which will prevent the plant from producing fruit.
- Discolouration and Dropping Leaves: Frost can cause leaves to discolour to a dark brown or black. The leaves and sometimes whole branches may eventually drop off as a result of frost damage.
What Things Affect The Last Frost Dates?
The last frost dates are influenced by a range of factors tied to geography, climate patterns, and even microclimates. Here are some of the primary factors:
- Latitude: The further away from the equator, generally, the later the last frost date. This is due to the angle of the sun and the length of the day.
- Altitude: Higher elevations are colder and can experience frost long after lower areas have warmed. Mountains and hills can have significantly later last frost dates compared to nearby valleys.
- Water: Proximity to large bodies of water like oceans and large lakes can moderate temperatures, often resulting in earlier last frost dates due to the thermal mass of water which cools down and heats up more slowly than land.
- Topography: The shape of the land can affect where cold air accumulates. Cold air sinks into valleys and low-lying areas, potentially causing frost pockets where frost can occur even when surrounding higher areas are frost-free.
- Urban Areas: Urban areas with lots of concrete and asphalt can be warmer than surrounding rural areas, leading to earlier last frost dates in cities.
- Winds: Warm or cold winds can influence the likelihood of frost. Warm ocean currents, for example, can bring milder temperatures to coastal regions, reducing the risk of frost.
- Snow Cover: A layer of snow can insulate the ground and prevent deep soil freezing, which might affect the timing of the last frost.
- Climate Change: Long-term shifts in climate patterns can lead to changes in last frost dates over time, with many areas observing earlier last frost dates as global temperatures rise.
- Microclimates: Within a single garden or farm, microclimates can exist where the last frost date might differ due to factors like shading from buildings, ground cover, the presence of water features, or specific types of paving that can retain heat.
Getting your Vegetables outside as soon as possible is important for plant health and will increase your yield. If you put them outside too early, the poor UK weather could be hugely detrimental and even kill off your plants before they have had the chance to mature. Keep this last frost date in mind when growing vegetables in the UK if you want to enjoy your homegrown produce.
Garden Doctor Tips
“Although you may have a ‘date in mind, always check the next few weeks’ weather forecast as last frost dates are an average and not a given!”
“If you are worried about another frost after putting your vegetables out, you can use a fleece tunnel to protect your infant crops!”
“In late winter and early spring, it is a good idea to add a nice layer of mulch to your vegetable garden to provide warmth and protect from frost!”
“If in any real doubt, wait a couple of weeks until after the average last frost date in your area to give you a much larger chance of avoiding an unexpected frost!”
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the last Frost date in the UK?
There is no definitive last frost date that covers the whole UK. The date of the last frost is worked out using an average of previous years. The last frost date in the UK can vary greatly across the nation with Aberdeen in Northern Scotland being around the beginning of May and London being the middle of March.
When is the last Frost in Norfolk?
The average last frost date in Norfolk is approximately 1 – 10 April.
What does last frost date mean?
The average last frost date is the date when a region can expect its last frost meaning that many plants & vegetables can be sown or transplanted outside without the risk of the weather damaging the plants. This date is not fixed and is worked out using an average of a previous number of years so planting on a particular date still carries an element of risk.
What month is the last frost in the UK?
The last frost in the UK can vary depending on the region, but it generally occurs in late April or early May in most parts of the country. However, some colder regions may experience frost well into May or even early June.
Do you get frost in April UK?
Yes, frost can occur in the UK in April, especially in the early part of the month. This is why it’s important to be cautious when planting sensitive crops or plants outdoors in the spring.
Do you get frost in May?
Frost can still occur in the UK in May, especially in colder regions or during colder-than-average years. However, it’s less common than in April, and the risk of frost generally decreases as the month progresses.
What temperature is frost UK?
Frost can occur when the temperature drops to or below freezing, which is 0°C (32°F) in the UK. However, it’s worth noting that other factors, such as humidity and wind conditions, can affect the formation of frost.
Can you get frost at 4 degrees?
It is unlikely to get frost at 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit) since frost usually forms when the temperature drops below freezing, which is 0°C (32°F) in the UK. However, there may be some rare exceptions where other conditions, such as humidity and wind, can cause frost to form at temperatures slightly above freezing.
How do you tell if there will be frost UK?
One way to tell if there will be frost in the UK is to check the weather forecast for your area. Many weather websites and apps will provide information on the likelihood of frost, as well as the expected low temperature for the night. Additionally, you can look for signs of frost, such as a clear night sky, low humidity, and still air.
Does wind keep frost from forming?
Yes, wind can help prevent frost from forming by mixing the air and preventing cold air from settling in one place. This is why frost is more common on calm, still nights.
Which plants need frost protection UK?
Plants that are particularly sensitive to frost and may require protection in the UK include tender annuals, such as tomatoes, peppers, and basil, as well as some perennial plants, such as citrus trees, fuchsias, and some herbs. It’s important to research the specific needs of your plants and provide appropriate protection, such as covering them with frost blankets or moving them indoors.
Should I cut off frost-damaged leaves?
In most cases, it’s best to leave frost-damaged leaves on the plant until new growth appears in the spring. This is because the damaged leaves can help protect the plant from further frost damage, and cutting them off too soon can cause additional stress to the plant. However, if the leaves are completely blackened or have turned slimy, it’s best to remove them to prevent the spread of disease.
Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.