Friday, April 15, 2016

Planting Annuals in April

The garden centers are chock full of beautiful flats of annual flowering plants. Impatiens, petunias,'s a feast for the senses after a long winter's wait, isn't it? But the waiting isn't over...

The other day, I happened to stop by the garden center just at the right moment...the discount moment. You know what I mean. That magical day, time and place when the stars align and the plants not just 50% off, but 75% off. It's like Christmas in the spring!

So I scooped up two flats of annual flowers, impatiens and petunias, for 75% off. You can't beat that, right?

So why are they still waiting in their tiny little cell packs to be planted in my garden?

Because we aren't past the danger zone yet when it comes to temperature. That's right, the F-word: frost. Freeze. Frigid. Call it what you like, but there is still a danger of frost. Frost kills impatiens quickly, and nips petunias, although they can withstand a little chill.

I'm not taking any risks, so my treasures are waiting to be planted until around May 1. Our "frost free" date is anywhere from April 20 to May 15, depending on exactly where you live in the Piedmont region. From experience, I can say for sure that some years it is on the early side, some years on the later side, but in all cases, we are still in the "danger zone" when the flowers tempt us but the temperatures fool us.

The garden centers stock the flowers now so that you have great choices. If you do find a bargain as I did, or you simply can't resist stocking up, then do keep your plants in their pots for now. I whisk mine back into the warmth of the garage on these cold nights and return them to the warm, sunny front walk slates during the day. It's the best of both worlds for an impatien, and until I can be sure of constant warmth and sunshine for my treasures, they will remain as you see them here.

Some tender annuals that you should wait to plant include:

  • Impatiens
  • Coleus
  • Ageratum
  • Begonia
  • All of your warm-weather veggies like tomatoes, peppers, etc.
  • Most herbs, including basil.

Of course there are more plants on the list than this. But these are the most common ones, and those which I happened to spy on my trip to the garden center this week. If you're in doubt about whether you can plant something now, wait or look it up on the Virginia Cooperative Extension website.

Wait to plant most tender annuals. You'll be glad you did!


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  2. I am always waiting until May 1 to plant here. But it sure is tempting to ignore the advice with temperatures near 80 this coming week. I can remember snowflakes on April 30 about a decade ago.

  3. How pretty! Your garden will be so beautiful after tgese are planted....Christine