There’s a reason why Memorial Day is considered the start of the spring growing season. That reason was quite apparent this spring. Even when days felt like spring, nighttime temperatures dipped down into the 30s, sometimes even below freezing. Tender annuals, even those rated for our hardiness zone 5, have a difficult time acclimating to these wide temperature swings.
Memorial Day is this Monday (May 28), and garden centers will surely be open that day. So, if you can’t get out to buy annuals this week, you can always do it between the parade and cook-out. Before you go to the garden center, note where you’re going to plant annuals. How big are the planting beds? If you plot out and measure where you’re going to plant each variety, you’ll know how many plants to buy? Then buy a few more. If you can’t use them all in your planting beds, you can always plant the extras in containers. They’ll bring a nice spring freshness into your house.
Speaking of containers, you can do your knees a favor by planting annuals in decorative containers and then placing them in strategic spots in the planting beds. Besides looking nice and complementing the other plants in the beds, this planting method makes deadheading (pinching or cutting off spent blooms to encourage reblooming) and replacement easy. You can use a stool to sit down and deadhead. Most annuals need to be changed out during the season or as seasons change. You can sit on your stool to do that, also.
If you really want your annuals in the ground, buy individual plants like geraniums and begonias and sink the nursery pot into the ground. If you buy annuals by the six pack, you can stand at your potting bench and transplant them into old nursery pots and sink them into the ground. An even easier shortcut is to sink one size bigger nursery pots than the ones you’re using for the annuals. Then you only have to slip the transplant pot into the sunken pot when you “plant” them initially and when you change them out. Can’t be much simpler than that.
If you aren’t able to plant your purchases right away, keep them outside on the deck or patio during nice warm days. But if the nighttime temps are forecast to dip down below 40 or 45 degrees, bring the plants inside for the night.
Annuals are like the frosting on your landscaping cake. Regardless of whether you embrace the tried and true traditional planting method or one of the labor (and knee) saving ideas presented here, the weekend to plant annuals is coming up. Why not put it on your calendar?