Vegetable Planting Dates for South Carolina
Choosing the right time to plant is key to successful vegetable gardening. To come up with a South Carolina vegetable planting calendar, you'll need to consider the region of the state where you are located, the vegetables' temperature requirements and the time that the vegetables need to mature.
In some cases, you can sow seeds directly into the ground. In other cases, you can extend the growing season by starting seeds indoors and transplanting them into the garden when conditions are right.
What Zone Is South Carolina for Planting?
For the purposes of planting vegetables, many experts divide the state into an inland piedmont region and a coastal region. Planting dates vary from one region to another, largely depending on when the first frost of fall and the last frost of spring are expected. Frost dates can vary from year to year.
To have a sense of when frosts are expected in South Carolina, it is important to know which U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone you are located in. These zones are based on the lowest winter temperatures in that region.
The northernmost part of South Carolina where winters are coldest is located in USDA zones 7a and 7b. The middle of the state is located in zones 8a and 8b, while the warmest coastal region of the state is in zone 9a.
Cool-weather veggies can withstand far colder temps than can warm-season veggies, so before creating a calendar, determine what vegetables you want to plant.
Cool-Season vs. Warm-Season Vegetables
To understand why some vegetables are best planted at certain times of the year, in South Carolina and elsewhere, it is necessary to understand the distinction between cool-season and warm-season vegetables.
Cool-season vegetables, as their name suggests, grow best during cool weather and do not perform well in the heat of summer. The opposite is true of warm-season vegetables, which thrive in hot weather and can be easily killed or injured by cold temperatures.
Examples of cool-weather vegetables include beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower and spinach. Meanwhile, other popular vegetables, like tomatoes, peppers, beans and eggplant, are warm-weather crops. While some vegetables can be planted in the spring and again in late summer or fall in South Carolina, others are best planted in one season or the other.
Cool-Weather vs. Warm-Season Vegetables in South Carolina
Peppers (Bell, Hot or Sweet)
South Carolina Planting Guide
Here's some guidance on what to plant in different seasons in the palmetto state.
As a general rule, if you are located in the coastal region of South Carolina, you can plant vegetables earlier in the spring than you would in the piedmont region.
In the case of cool-season vegetables, earlier plantings in the warmer, coastal region allow you to get a head start before summer temperatures set in. That's why you can, for example, plant asparagus between February 1 and March 15 in coastal areas and between March 1 and April 15 in the piedmont.
The same applies for warm-season vegetables. For example, in the coastal region, it is warm enough to plant tomatoes outdoors as early as March 1. However, in the piedmont region, you will want to wait until May 1 at the earliest to ensure the threat of frost has passed. Some vegetables are not suitable for spring plantings in South Carolina, however, including Brussels sprouts, pumpkins and onions grown from seeds.
When it comes to fall plantings, earlier planting dates are recommended in the piedmont region than in the coastal region, with some overlap between the planting windows. For instance, for a fall cabbage crop, plant between July 15 and August 31 in the piedmont and between August 15 and September 30 in coastal areas.
Because of temperature requirements, fall plantings of certain warm-season vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, are not recommended in the piedmont region of South Carolina.
Since beginning her career as a professional journalist in 2007, Nathalie Alonso has covered a myriad of topics, including arts, culture and travel, for newspapers and magazines in New York City. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and lives in Queens with her two cats.