Vegetable Plants That Will Grow Best in New England Zone 5

Backyard Spruce


As spring approaches, the green thumbs of New England Zone 5 and Zone 6 are itching to get back into their gardens. But with so many vegetable plants to choose from, it can be hard to know which ones will thrive in this region’s unique climate and soil conditions. Oftentimes, gardeners will even question when the right time is for planting their seeds or seedlings outside.

Fear not, fellow gardeners! In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the top vegetable plants that will yield the best results in Zone 5 in New England. We’re talking robust crops that are resistant to cold snaps and require minimal maintenance – from crispy lettuce greens and zesty herbs to root veggies like carrots, radishes, and potatoes.

So put on your gardening gloves and let’s delve into these tried-and-true picks for a bountiful harvest season ahead!

Leafy Greens that Will Thrive in New England Zone 5

Leafy greens consisting of lettuce, spinach, and kale.

If you’re a fan of leafy greens, then you’re in luck! New England Zone 5 is the perfect environment for these nutrient-packed veggies to thrive. From delicate and mild-tasting spinach to bitter and peppery arugula, there are plenty of options available for every taste bud preference.

One popular choice among New England gardeners is kale, which is often considered a great cool-season crop in New England. This hearty green grows well in cooler temperatures and can even survive a light frost or snowfall. Plus, it’s jam-packed with vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, calcium, and iron – making it a superfood that your body will thank you for eating.

If variety is what you’re after, then why not try growing some Swiss chard or collard greens? These leafy vegetables come in an array of vibrant colors ranging from deep reds to bright yellows. Both are easy to grow and require minimal maintenance once established – leaving more time for admiring their stunning appearance while using them as a delicious addition to your meals.


Cabbage is a great addition to a New England garden. It is an annual vegetable that you can plant during spring and fall that will tolerate the low temperatures of Zone 5. You can start the seeds early inside about 6-8 weeks early before planting come mid-April.


Kale is a cold hardy vegetable that is resilient and easy to grow in New England. Kale is extremely nutritious and has a wide range of species to grow depending on taste bud needs. Plant kale during spring or fall seasons, kale does not prefer the hotter temperatures of summer and will have more of a bitter taste if grown.

In New England, you should plant kale mid-April as their young seedlings are not damaged by nightly temperatures down to about 25°F. This vegetable plant is extremely hardy as it matures.


Another leafy green, lettuce actually does grow well in Zone 5. Plant seedlings during early May to ensure soil level remains warm enough during the night. You can also mulch around lettuce to help maintain soil moisture levels while insulating during lower temperatures during the night.


Fun fact, spinach is one of the healthiest vegetables to grow. Spinach will also regrow if you cut above the grow point at the base, allowing for two or more harvests of the plant if the weather remains cool.

After the last frost, spinach can be planted outdoors. The general practice to follow for New England’s Zone 5 is to wait until two weeks after the last frost to know when to plant your spinach outside. Spinach is a cool-weather vegetable that prefers temperatures outside of the summer season of Zone 5.

Spinach prefers full sun but will accept some partial shade. You can harvest spinach when it grows to be about the size of a U.S. quarter coin which would be about 20-30 days after sowing seeds.

Root Vegetables that are Perfect for Zone 5 Gardens

Root vegetables carrots, onions, radishes, beet.

Root vegetables are a staple in any vegetable patch in New England, and they’re particularly great for Zone 5 gardens. These hardy veggies have a long growing season and can withstand New England’s frosty falls, making them an ideal choice for those looking to maximize their harvests.

Carrots, beets, radishes, onions, and turnips are just a few of the root veggies that thrive in our colder climate. One of the best things about root veggies is that they store well through the winter months. Harvested root veggies can be kept in cool dark places like basements or dark pantries until needed. This makes them perfect for those who want to have access to fresh produce year-round without having to rely solely on grocery stores during off-seasons.


Beets are a root crop that can be started by planting as soon as that grown is thawed enough to be workable. In New England, you can plant beets as early as late March and early April. Beets like soft airy soil, so make sure there are no rocks in the soil or that it is too packed down. Beets also do not tolerate acidic soils below a 6.0 pH level.


Mmm, a fresh summer salad is not complete without your fresh organic carrots! Carrots are a quick root crop to grow and can be planted as a succession vegetable, sowing every 3-4 weeks. They grow well in New England and should be started by seed in either spring or fall for Zone 5. Carrots do not grow optimally in the hotter temperatures of summer.


Onions, onions, onions… Growing onions can be tricky at first and often considered not a beginner’s best vegetable to learn from. Onions do grow well in New England’s Zone 5 climate, but here’s the thing. They take two years to grow onions from seed, but if you start them from onion sets it can only take a few months. The best time to start planting an onion from an onion set in New England is early May when the frost passes.


Potatoes have come back into the trend for popularity, these root crops grow well in the New England environment. They are simple to grow, plant them in early May in some well-draining soil. Make sure the soil isn’t too wet consistently as potatoes will begin to rot if waterlogged. By late summer you will begin digging these puppies out with a bountiful harvest.


Radishes are a simple root crop that has a fast growth period of around 30 days before they mature enough and are ready to pick. You can plant radishes around early April and, best of all, you can succession plant radishes at 1-2 week seeding intervals.


Turnips can be planted in late April for a spring harvest, and again in August for a fall harvest. Turnips do not tolerate the heat of summer months well and should be cycled out for another quick-growing vegetable.

Turnips are quick-growing vegetables that can be harvested in 6-9 weeks. They grow best in full sun with temperature ranges from 45°F to 75°F

Herbs that Will Flourish in New England’s Unique Climate

Herbs on a tray.  Basil, parsley, cilantro, and mint.

When it comes to herbs that will flourish in New England’s unique climate, there are several options. First and foremost is basil – a go-to favorite for many gardeners due to its versatility and ease of growth. From classic Genovese basil to Thai basil with its spicy notes, this herb will thrive in the warm summers of Zone 5.

Another great herb for New England gardens is parsley. A biennial plant, parsley can last up to two years in the right conditions and is an excellent addition to any meal or culinary creation. With regular watering and partial shade during hot afternoons, it’s sure to flourish in your garden.

Cilantro is another popular herb that will do well in New England’s cooler temperatures as long as it receives plenty of sunlight. This fragrant herb makes a fantastic seasoning for your dishes or infused oils, but also looks lovely growing alongside flowering plants like lavender, sage, or rosemary.


Basils are a great summer herb to choose from, it prefers temperatures above 60°F with full access to the sun – in New England, this means early June. Simply sow seeds at 3x their seed diameter in a tray indoors and then move outside during weeks 4-6.

Best of all, Basil is like a weed. Cut one leaf off at the stem, two new ones grow back in its place.


Chives are one of the easiest herbs to grow. Chives are perennials that can be cut in small portions and come back later for more. Simply cut whatever you need for cooking and in a couple of days it will have grown back. Like grass in your yard, you simply cut back the top and wait for it to grow back to do it again. Chives grow like a weed!


Cilantro grows best in spring and fall seasons over summer for the Zone 5 climate. Heat will actually cause cilantro to start flowering and produce seeds.

Cilantro is a great succession plant at about every 2-4 weeks. Give cilantro full sun and well-drained soil that is slightly acidic with a pH level of 6.2-6.8.


Parsley is a biennial that is hardy to Zone 5. However, most gardeners choose to pull parsley after the first year as the second year the plant tends to be leaner with leaves and a bit less flavorful. You could opt to allow the plant to bloom, allowing the bumble bees to flourish, and then collect the seeds to sow the next season.

Grow parsley in moist soil with access to a sunny location – direct sunlight for about 6-8 hours a day. You can actually plant parsley in early spring before the last frost as this herb prefers cool weather and is even tolerant to a frost.

Warm Weather Vegetables Perfect for New England Gardens

Don’t worry if it feels as though we are missing out on the bigger warm weather crops by living in New England. Plant these vegetables once the final frost passes in May and they will flourish without a worry in your backyard garden. While these plants usually have a longer growing period, the wait is worth it as they typically yield a bountiful harvest come late summer and early fall.


This example may surprise many of you, however, celery actually does grow fairly well in New England. Many believe it is hard to grow, but it isn’t. Plant during early May, assuming you have started the seeds indoors 8-10 weeks beforehand.


Cucumbers are another staple vegetable in any garden. These warm weathered veggies love to vine upward towards the sun and sway in the summer breeze. It’s important to plant cucumbers after the final frost during the spring, so plan on planting cucumbers in your garden during early May to ensure the unpredictable New England weather has warmed up enough.


Peas are another vining crop, like cucumbers, that requires a climbing support system. Peas are early spring vegetable plants, so plan on getting these outside and into the ground by late April or early May.


Another popular warm-season crop, Peppers enjoy as much heat as possible and full sun. Plant seedlings in the garden by mid-May, well after the final frost date. Ensure their location allows for full daytime sun. With daily watering to keep soil moisture levels up, you can expect to harvest the peppers by late August and early September.

Summer Squash / Zucchinis

Truly a summertime vegetable to enjoy during the grilling season, zucchinis and summer squashes do extremely well in Zone 5 New England. You can sow zucchini seeds directly outdoors after the final frost in May.