Have you ever heard the phrase, “wait until after Mother’s Day to plant?” Here it is the middle of April and the flowers are for sale…in droves…and they’ve been for sale for weeks already! The racks and racks of flowers stand at attention at the garden center, just waiting for someone to scoop them up. This drives me absolutely bonkers. Inevitably, the bad weather comes and the plants are still there, on the same racks and by now, half dead and begging for attention. I want to scream when I see a cart crammed full of annuals that aren’t going to be able to withstand one of Colorado’s April or May storms. I want to flip my “trust me Ma’am, I’m a plant professional” badge. Do they even exist? I digress…
I know we’re all ready for spring. I’m just as ready as the next green-thumber. When I get around those flowers at SchmallSchmart, I want to buy a cartload and plant them too. It’s like a gigantic magnet that draws me in. But…..I have to resist. It’s TOO EARLY. Let me say that again….It’s TOO EARLY. Step away from the plants and put your hands up! Plant now and you’ll be planting again, which translates to spending more money!
In Colorado, we have bipolar weather. It’s 80 degrees one day and snowing the next. You’ve seen people wearing coats and flip flops right? Our weather is confusing! Tender annuals can’t take that. One exception to this rule is pansies. Go ahead and plant those babies! As a general rule, wait until after Mother’s Day to plant your tender annuals and vegetables. If you want to be absolutely sure, wait until Memorial Day. Your plants will thrive as the soil temperature warms up. East Coasters, I’m not sure what to tell you. Your weather must be clinically depressed, because it’s always snowing there. Just wait it out, I guess?
If you’re getting that urge to plant something then turn to your garden. It’s the perfect time to plant cold hardy crops. These crops thrive in the cooler weather. Cold hardy crops can be planted again at the end of summer for a second harvest, when the night time temperatures begin to fall again. This week, I planted radish, lettuce, spinach, and onion. They’ve all started sprouting despite the cold weather this past week.
If you’re jonesing to plant flowers now, take a deep breath and pick out some perennials. They will come back year after year and can handle the cool, crazy weather until it finally warms up for good. I planted Phlox, Hosta, black-eyed Susans and Liatris a few weeks ago. I’m planting some shrubbery this week as well.
Not sure which plants will thrive in your area? I’ve got you covered. Find your plant hardiness zone here. Knowing your plant hardiness zone will help you find the plants that will thrive in your area. Here in Colorado, we are a zone 4 or 5, depending on the location. Take a walk or drive around your area and see what other people are growing. If you see something you like, snap a pic and take it with you to the garden center. When you are ready to shop for plants, never depend on the employees at the store to give you the correct information, especially at a big box store. Always do your homework before you go and take a list of plants that might work well in your area. If all else fails, Google it while you’re at the garden center.
So when you see those plant zombies being pulled toward those big racks of bright, beautiful flowers steer clear and resist buying. Wait just a few more weeks. Your wallet will thank you. Your success rate will skyrocket and so will your gorgeous flowers.
This week’s DIY: If you are getting that urge to plant something, grow a sweet potato vine on your windowsill for your container garden. Sweet potato vine is my FAVORITE plant for container gardening. Its trailing lime green foliage makes a big impact and it’s super easy to grow. If you start it at home, it’s a big money saver. You can start several sweet potato vines from a single sweet potato for less than $1! Pair it with dark purple petunias or hot pink Wave petunias for a stunning display in your container garden. Put one of these babies on your porch for a full season of color.
Buy a sweet potato at the grocery store, stick three toothpicks in it and put it in a jar, pointy side up, in the windowsill. Fill it about 1/3 of the way up with water. Within a few weeks potato will grow roots on the bottom and will sprout foliage out of the top. Twist the sprouts off the top of the potato and put them in another jar of water. Once they sprout roots, you can plant them in your container garden. Easy peasy and voila, you have a nice trailing plant for your container garden for virtually nothing except a little bit of patience.