It only takes one plant getting sizzled up in the triple-digits heat of July to realize that gardening in Austin, Texas, can come with some challenges. That being said, the Austin area is one of the best places to garden thanks to our ability to grow year round. That's right—you can plant and harvest every single month here in the sunny capital of Texas.
Austin Texas Weather
If you can stand a little heat, the climate in Austin is overall pleasant and well-suited for enjoying outdoor activities like gardening. The high humidity typical of areas that are closer to the gulf (like Houston) is not as common here.
Summers in Central Texas are extremely hot and often dry, following rainstorms in the spring. The winters are mild with perhaps a couple days of below-freezing temps (between the expected frost dates of November 10 and March 18). It snows every couple of years. It's thanks to these mild winters that we Austinites can grow vegetables year round.
Austin receives, on average, 35.5 inches of rainfall per year. May, October, and June are the wettest months of the year.
Typical Temperature for Austin, Texas
The high for the months of June all the way to September is 90°F or above. Summer mornings are often in the 70s but rising fast, so it's best to get outdoors early to tend your garden and spend the hottest parts of the day indoors.
Austin's spring and fall are pleasant times of year with temps in the 60s, 70s, and low 80s.
Winter temps range from 41°F to 65°F, on average. If you've lived in this area for a while, though, you know that it's not uncommon to be comfortable in shorts on Christmas Day.
Austin, Texas, Gardening Zone
Austin is in hardiness zone 8B. The good news is that means we have a wide range of plant options available, but it is really important to select plants that grow well in this environment.
Plants labeled as hardy to zone 8 should be able to withstand lows from 10°F to 20°F, especially with a little frost protection in place.
Soil in Austin, Texas
Let's talk dirt. This area is surrounded by limestone, and most areas have soil that's heavy in clay or sand, and low in organic matter. This type of soil is not ideal for many of the veggies we like to grow, which is why we recommend gardening in raised beds filled with our ideal blend of vegetable gardening soil.
Tips for Vegetable Gardening in Austin Year Round
Austin enjoys three distinct growing seasons: a cool season in the winter months, a warm season in the spring, a hot season in the summer, and another warm season in the fall. That means we get to enjoy garden favorites like cherry tomatoes not once, but twice throughout the year.
Let's look at an overview of Austin's growing seasons. For a more in-depth breakdown of our seasons, including what to plant when, check out our Central Texas Monthly Planting Guide.
Vegetable Gardening in Austin's Cool Season
Late November through mid March are the ideal months to grow crops that love cooler weather (and that can handle the occasional frost). Every February or so, I'm reminded what a privilege it is that we're already planting and growing, instead of waiting for spring to finally garden.
Vegetables like carrots, lettuces, and radishes germinate best in cool temperatures. If frost is anticipated, most other crops will need to be covered for protection. Learn more about how to protect your plants from Texas cold snaps.
Early February is typically the time when Austin gardeners start seeds for our upcoming growing season indoors so that they'll be ready to transplant outdoors in 6 to 8 weeks, just after our final frost date in mid March. (Check out our seed starting guide for more tips on getting a head start with your plants.)
Vegetable Gardening in Austin's Warm Seasons
From mid March to June is Austin's first of two warm seasons. This is when Austinites can grow quintessential kitchen garden fruits and veggies like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, beans, and more.
Even though we often get more rain in spring, it's important to check regularly on your vegetable garden and add supplemental water when the soil is dry to maintain plant health.
We get a second chance to grow these warm season favorites in the fall when we enjoy our second warm season from September to November.
Vegetable Gardening in Austin's Hot Season
Trying to grow a plant that doesn't tolerate heat during Austin's summer months would be as futile as trying to grow one that hates cold during winter in Canada. We can continue gardening through even the hottest months, but only if we select plants appropriate for this climate.
Plants that can take the heat include eggplant, okra, hot peppers, sweet potatoes, and watermelons.
During this time, it's important to water deeply and regularly to prevent plants from being stressed and to give plants some shade using shade cloths. Read our other tips for summer gardening in Texas.
We hope this information on vegetable gardening in Austin encourages you to pick your favorite plants in season and dig in! There are certainly some challenges to growing an edible garden here, but overall, you'll find Austin gardening so rewarding!
Don't forget to check out the Central Texas Monthly Planting Guide
The Central Texas Monthly Planting Guide will help show you what to plant each month along with some helpful tips. Each month includes planting times every two weeks and will help guide you whether to start by seed or plant seedlings you have grown yourself or purchased from your local nursery. Having this guide at your fingertips will help you each year as you are learning and growing in Central Texas.
Photo credit to Lettuce Grow Something and Jennifer Nesbit Holt