4 Things You Should Know About Planting in the Spring

4 Things You Should Know About Planting in the Spring

It's Spring Time Y'all!!

Can you believe it?? It always feels like Winter will never end... UNTIL spring is on the brink! But once it does, gardeners everywhere start getting antsy to get out in the garden and start their plants. 🌱

BUT... it's this anticipation and impatience that can also cause gardeners of ALL levels of experience to make some costly mistakes, and I don't want that for YOU! So, let's talk about some things you should know about gardening in the spring...

1. Wait for it...🌷

I know, I know. I get it. You just can't wait to start gardening! The weather is warming, the sun is out, the ground is workable... and while there definitely are some things you can put in the ground, there are some others YOU SHOULD JUST WAIT ON. 

Don't be fooled by what your local nurseries are putting out on their greenhouse shelves... they don't necessarily have your (or your plant's) best interest in mind. 

They either assume you know what you're doing, OR they know you'll be back for more if what you purchase dies! Ugh. Let's not do that.

DO NOT put out your warm weather vegetables and herbs like (are you ready for it?) basil, any kind of beans, bok choy, Napa cabbage (these can tolerate a "light" frost), corn, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, ground cherry, lemon balm, mint, melon, okra, quinoa, rosemary, sage, savory, New Zealand spinach, oregano, peppers, pumpkins, summer or winter squash, tarragon, thyme, tomatillos, tomatoes, and watermelon.

DO NOT put out your warm weather flowers like asters, balsam, Black-eyed Susans, celosia, coleus, cosmos, Cottage Pinks, dahlia, delphiniums, Dusty Miller, Four O'Clocks, foxglove, gazania, hollyhock, hyssop, impatiens, lupine, marigold, Mexican sunflower (or ANY sunflowers!), Money plant, moonflower, morning glory, nasturtium, salvia, Sweet William, yarrow, zinnia, and MORE! 

These lists are NOT exhaustive! So, if there's something you want to plant that is not on these lists,  just double check! I included mostly common vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Again, remember, you WILL get to put these plants outside very soon, but don't lose your precious babies (or waste your money) by jumping the gun and putting them out too soon. Which leads me to my next point....

2. Watch the Weather 🌨

That's right! Even when you think the worst of it has passed, you will almost ALWAYS have a late frost (especially around Easter). So, just be watching your daily (and nightly) temperatures - NO MATTER WHAT!

First off, KNOW THE AVERAGE LAST FROST DATE FOR YOUR AREA! You can do that just about anywhere online, but I highly recommend the Farmer's Almanac Online Calendar. It's pretty darn accurate and you know the saying... "The Farmer's Almanac is never wrong!"

So, know your last frost date and then be looking a few days out, and even a week or so out from that date so you're not caught unawares! It's the worst feeling to be outside covering up your plants last minute because you didn't realize a frost was coming.

It's even worse when you find out too late the next morning... However, there are some things you can do to potentially save your plants if this does happen (and we'll get to that in a moment).

3. How to Prepare for a Late Frost 🥶

If indeed, you are going to have a late frost and you have plants outside that don't tolerate frost, there are some things you can do to spare them.

  • Cover Them UP! Seems self-explanatory, but you'd be surprised how many people forget this. You can save a plant just by covering it something...even just a sheet! With the exception of hot weather plants like peppers, it's the actual frost touching the leaves that will kill the plant MORE than the temperature. Most plants can handle a couple of cool, even cold, nights, but the CANNOT tolerate the frost on their parts. So grab a sheet, a cardboard box, a planter, a barrel, ANYTHING you can find in your house or garage and cover those babies up! You'll be surprised what you can save.
  • Water them! If a frost is eminent, give you outdoor plants a good water before the frost hits. A dehydrated plant will be much more vulnerable to the cold than a hydrated plant. It all goes back to the cellular level. It's the cells in the plant, especially the tender leaves, that are affected by the frost. If the cells freeze, they will expand and then burst when the weather warms. Somehow, being nice and plump from a recent watering will help protect them. You can also go out the next morning and give them a good water as well. It will help them thaw a bit more gradually and may save their cells from bursting.
  • Bring them indoors! If at all possible, you can just bring your plants indoors. If they're in pots, store them in the garage (again, the temperature won't be as detrimental as the actual frost will). If they're freshly planted in the ground, you could dig them up, carefully put them in a planter and bring them in. I would say this is only necessary for your tenderest of plants, like peppers. But before I would bring them in, I'd cover them up with an upside down planter. Having them inside their own little "greenhouse" will at least help bring the temperatures up a bit.

4. Be Prepared!

More than anything, just make sure you have things on available BEFOREHAND that you can use if there is a late frost.

I've already mentioned it, but knowing your last frost date, knowing which plants can tolerate the cold weather (and obviously which can't), watching the weather, and having things to cover your plants with will save you a ton of stress and money!

FROST COVERS ARE AMAZING! I highly recommend you invest in some (and they're actually not that expensive).

  1. They're super light weight, so they won't smash your tender baby plants with the weight of the frost (or snow).
  2. They're super easy to store and will last you several seasons if you store them well.
  3. They allow light to penetrate, so you can keep them on throughout the day (if it's still snowing).
  4. You can lay them directly on top of your plants and weigh down the edges (so it doesn't fly off), OR you can create hoops using anything, really, to lay the frost cover over (see below). Just get creative! 👇🏻 But here are some IDEAS.

Honestly, just know your plants and what they need weather-wise (here's a great resource for that). And BE PATIENT!

If you're worried your plants won't have enough time to mature outdoors due to colder spring, start some indoors a week or two or three ahead of time. 

If this seems intimidating, either grab my Seed Starting 101 resources (video, audio, & PDF formats available) OR buy established plant starts from your local nursery. Just make sure they're good quality plants, which is a topic for another blog! I'll get on that right now.....