ST. LOUIS — When is it safe to leave your plants outside without worrying about frost killing them? A sudden drop in temperature can damage plants or kill tender new growth. Many gardeners protect their plants in the fall and spring by covering them with blankets or moving them indoors until the risk of frost has passed.

You should wait until tax day in the St. Louis area to put out your plants. That usually happens in mid-April, around the 15 to the 18 of the month.

That does not mean that your plants are safe from the cold. Meteorologist John Fuller says that a good rule of thumb is to wait until Mother’s Day each year. The latest freeze recorded at St. Louis Lambert International Airport was on May 10, 1966.

The Freeze Date Tool from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center at Purdue University is a good guide to see when the best time to keep plants indoors. It shows when the first and last freezes have been and includes future trends. Click on a county to bring up more specific weather information.

Freeze Date Tool from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center

Whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or a first-time gardener, the Midwest offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the rewards of a bountiful spring harvest. With the winter thaw comes the time to plant cool season crops like peas, lettuce, and spinach, as well as popular favorites like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.

Midwest gardens offer a wide range of plant options to choose from, including both annuals and perennials. Some popular plant choices for Midwest gardens include Black-eyed Susan, Coneflower, Daylilies, and Hostas, which are all known for their hardiness and adaptability to the region’s climate. Other popular options include vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and corn, as well as fruits like strawberries and blueberries.

When choosing plants for a Midwest garden, it’s important to consider the specific soil and sunlight conditions of your location and to choose plant varieties that are well-suited for those conditions. With a little bit of research and planning, gardeners in the Midwest can enjoy a diverse and thriving garden all season long.