RIGHT TIME TO PLANT FLOWERS
Is It Too Early To Plant My Flowers?
Without any doubt this is the number one question each spring. Many of us get excited when we get warmer weather in May and assume that we can go ahead and plant. In the Pembroke area the last historic frost date is typically in the first week of June. If you want to be extra careful it is best to watch the weather in the first week of June and plan your first planting after any final frosts in that week. For those of us that simply can't wait or want a headstart on growing you can plant out a little earlier around May 24th if it only looks like there will be a light frost here and there. For the nights where there is going to be a light frost though you will need to cover your plants with either frost cloth, or blankets. (use sticks/stakes to prop up the cloth a bit over your plants so they don't get crushed) Areas that are out in the open are more risky as they tend to get heavier frosts. Areas that are near or protected by the house, will have less risk of frost. Of course, containers and planters can all be moved inside in an emergency. Due to the fact that you can move containers inside on the colder nights they are a lot better for putting out earlier however you may not enjoy putting them out TOO early as the fun task of moving them inside and outside each day will get old fast.
If there is a risk of frost, water on the leaves of tender plants helps to insulate and reduce the risk of damage. A watering in the early morning (as early as 4 am) may help to defray damage from frost. Of course, if the temperature drops more than a few degrees below freezing even covering and moisture on the leaves won't help.
Experience has proven that early plantings are no further ahead by late June than those that have been delayed. The reason for this is that these tender plants prefer warm soil for getting started. The soil is just now starting to warm up. The other factor to consider is the amount of moisture. Heavier clay type soils remain wet much later than lighter sandier soils. Heavier soils should be planted later so that they have less extremes of wetness.
There is no fast easy answer to this question. Trial and error will prevail. Just try not to plant so early that you have to say a prayer for your plants every other night to make it through the frost!