Cool Season Crops: What's the Difference Warm Season Plants?

Cool Season Crops: Their Difference From Warm Season Plants

Cool Season Crops

Cool Season Crops: The List

What are cool season crops?

Are there certain plants that grow well during the summer or during winter? Yes there are, and I learned it the hard way. When I first started gardening, I didn’t know which crops grow best during winter or summer. I just planted fruits and vegetables that I enjoyed eating. What happened was that, some of my plants died because they were not able to tolerate too much cold or too much heat. Did you have the same experience? As I explain in our indoor winter garden guide, indoor could be a better option but if you persist to grow outside, here is the list of plants that you can grow during the cold winter season.

Related: Growing Winter Greens: Let It Grow, Let It Grow, Let It Grow

So, what is the difference?

To put it as simply as possible, cool season crops are grown during cool weather, and warm season (yep, you guessed it!) are grown during warm weather.

Depending on your climate, you might be able to grow cool season crops in both spring and fall. Warm season crops typically have a longer growing season and are grown in the summer. Winter gardening can seem a bit more advanced, but it really just depends on the climate of your area. We will get into that more later on.

So, who belongs to which group?

Cool Season Crops

Related: “It’s as simple as saying Hello.” Discover our step-by-step planner for building your garden from scratch!

What crops grow in the spring?

Here is the most popular warm season fruits and vegetables include

  • tomatoes,
  • peppers,
  • eggplant,
  • melons,
  • okra,
  • both summer and winter squash,
  • pumpkin,
  • cucumber,
  • corn,
  • sweet potatoes
  • beans

None of these will survive a frost.

What plants do well in the cold?

Popular cool season crops include most greens such as:

  • arugula,
  • lettuce,
  • kale,
  • cabbage,
  • collard greens,
  • spinach,
  • broccoli,
  • Brussel sprouts,
  • Swiss chard and
  • mustard greens.
  • Also cauliflower, beets, carrots, potatoes, peas, radish, garlic and onion are all cool season crops, too.

There are exceptions, of course. For example, in some climates, Swiss chard, kale and collard greens will survive through summer despite being cool season crops. After one season of growing you will know why they are cool season greens – all three have a much better flavor when grown in cool temperatures.

Cool Season Crops
If you only want to garden in the spring, summer and fall, then this is a great starting point. But before you go straight to your favorite seed company’s website or your local garden store to stock up, you need to know one more thing.

Related: 7 Easiest Vegetables to Grow in Your Urban Garden

Variety is super important when it comes to seeds!

Be sure to read over the seed packet so you know specific information about the variety you are considering purchasing. For example, not all lettuce is created equal. The range of days to maturity for lettuce is as short as 40 days and all the way up to 80 days. Some varieties resist bolting in heat and others tolerate frost. Be sure you know what you are getting and make sure it matches the time of year you are planting. This will help you to have the best harvest possible!

Now that you have those basics down for spring, summer and fall, it’s important to take it a step further if you want to garden through the winter. You need to know that the plants in the cool season group have different tolerance levels when it comes to frost.


Cool Season Crops

I wish I knew this information when I first started gardening. My hope is that it will help save you some time and, ultimately, experience more gardening success!

Related: How to Start Gardening At Home: 7 Best Tips

About the Author


    I'm working on a goal to grow the majority of my family's produce in an urban backyard setting. Come follow along to learn with me!

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