Can Peas Survive Frost?

Many vegetable gardens consider peas a staple, given their tender green pods and sweet, crisp taste. As we approach the colder months, gardeners might question how well pea plants will withstand frost.

This article explores the frost tolerance of peas, factors that bolster their resilience, and strategies to guarantee a successful pea harvest in chilly weather conditions.

Understanding Peas

The legume family claims ownership of Peas (Pisum sativum), in diverse forms: snap peas; snow peas; and shelling peas. Renowned for their versatility and rich nutritional value, Peas, a cool-season crop, flourish under the mild temperatures of spring and fall.

Consequently, they emerge as an attractive option for both early planting endeavors and late-season sowing activities.

Can Peas Survive Frost?

1. Cold-Hardy Nature

Generally, we consider peas as cool-season crops with a commendable level of frost tolerance; indeed, certain varieties can brave not only light frosts but also cooler temperatures. This resilience enables gardeners to prolong their growing season into late fall or even early winter.

2. Temperature Thresholds

Peas, specifically the variety and growth stage, can withstand temperatures as low as -2°C to 0°C (28°F to 32°F) without incurring significant damage. The duration of exposure to frost also influences their ability to endure cold conditions.

Factors Influencing Peas’ Resilience to Frost

1. Varietal Differences

Pea varieties, like ‘Dakota’ and ‘Green Arrow,’ demonstrate different degrees of cold tolerance. These particular types can endure colder temperatures and prove suitable for late-season planting.

2. Stage of Growth

The ability of peas to survive is influenced by the growth stage at which they encounter frost. Frost damage primarily affects young pea plants, particularly those in the germination and flowering stages. Generally, mature pea plants with developed pods exhibit more hardiness.

3. Growing Conditions

Growing conditions influence the health of pea plants: well-draining soil, and proper spacing, particularly for climbing varieties that require adequate support and sunlight exposure are crucial factors in enhancing pea resilience.

Moreover; supplying sufficient nutrients further fortifies these legumes against environmental stressors.

4. Microclimates:

Variations in temperature can arise from microclimates within a garden. Areas boasting good air circulation and natural windbreaks often enjoy milder conditions as this mitigates the risk of frost damage to pea plants.

peas in the garden

4 Tips for Protecting Peas During Frost

1. Covering Plants

Pea plants, when anticipated frost threatens them: cloaking these with lightweight frost cloth blankets or burlap, for instance, forms an effective protective barrier. This cover not only traps heat in proximity to the plant; it also acts as a shield against settling frosts on tender foliage and pods.

2. Mulching Around Plants

The application of an organic mulch layer around the base of pea plants serves to insulate the soil and shield their roots from drastic temperature changes. Furthermore, by averting rapid soil cooling, this method reduces potential frost damage risk significantly.

3. Watering Considerations

During colder periods, peas necessitate critical watering: they dislike being waterlogged; however, consistent soil moisture when maintained will promote plant hydration and resilience to frost.

Selecting morning hours for this task is advisable as it allows excess moisture to evaporate before the nocturnal temperature descent—thereby circumventing potential issues associated with over-dampening.

4. Harvesting Before Frost

Maintain vigilance over weather forecasts; strategically plan to harvest mature pea pods in advance of an impending frost event. By reaping before the cold sets in, you safeguard your harvest’s quality: exposure to freezing temperatures can compromise it.

Observing and Responding to Frost Damage

Should frost expose peas to potential damage, gardeners may facilitate plant recovery by implementing the subsequent steps:

1. Assess the Extent of Damage

Assess the extent of frost damage on pea plants; should only a portion suffer, potentially trim those affected parts such as the stems or foliage. This strategy could enable the plant to refocus its energy towards healthier sections.

2. Prune Damaged Growth

Using clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears, you should prune back any visibly damaged or discolored stems; make clean cuts to promote healing and encourage new growth.

3. Evaluate the Roots

Carefully examine the roots for any indications of rot or damage. If they seem robust-free from ailments, there exists a strong possibility of recovery in the pea plant. Prune all soft or discolored roots; moreover, contemplate offering an extra layer of insulation—mulch can serve this purpose admirably—to shield the vulnerable root system from exacerbating stressors.


With proper care and attention, one can successfully grow peas, those delectable pods of versatility in the kitchen into the cooler months; cold-tolerant varieties enhance their chances for a successful harvest. Even as temperatures dip and frosty conditions set in, gardeners who implement protective measures when imminent frost threatens will enjoy a bounty of fresh peas: an ode to strategic gardening indeed!

Let the pea plants brave the chill; they serve as a reminder with thoughtful care, and you can ensure our garden continues to yield delicious rewards during seasons of change.