Planting Annuals is all a Matter of Timing

pink-geranium-2729139_1920.jpgGarden Week in Virginia is later than usual this year, but when you think of planting annuals, Garden Week every year is a good time to do it. That is, between touring all of the beautiful homes and gardens that are open to visitors this week only. In case you haven’t noted it on your calendar yet, Garden Week is April 27th through May 4th. You can still plan your tours by visiting this web site!

Garden centers across Central Virginia are loading up on flats of begonias, petunias, geraniums and other summer bloomers, but you might be well advised to wait just another week or two before putting them in the ground. No, it isn’t going to snow, but there is still a danger of frost which can nip your petunias in the bud before you get to enjoy a single bloom. Central Virginia’s “frost free” date is between April 20th and May 15th, depending on where you live. The closer you are to the mountains, the later your date.

To be safe, store your potted annuals overnight in a protected place like a garage or hot house just in case Jack Frost makes one last, unanticipated visit. You can take them out into the sunshine during the day so they’ll continue to thrive.

So which annuals are most susceptible to cold snaps?

Impatiens (though they are still under a blight here in Central Virginia and may be harder to find)
Warm-weather vegetables
Herbs, especially basil and mint

Not all is lost, though. These annuals are heartier when it comes to cold, so if you feel you need to get some plants in sooner rather than later, you’ll be luckier with these.

Osteospermum (African Daisy)
Pansy (though they will definitely fade off in the heat)
Swiss Chard
Dusty Miller
Sweet Alyssum

Remember to try and put some compost around your annuals. They are grown in soil that has chemical fertilizer at the nursery, so they will need some more food over the summer. Natural compost, a compost tea, or a bought compost like Mushroom compost will help them thrive and bloom. Happy planting, and happy touring during Garden Week!

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