With the warm weather we have had this spring, everyone is itching to start planting. While a lot of people are hesitant to plant, there are plenty of cool weather options to get a splash of color in your yard.
The first thing to know is that for color in your yard, your best option is to plant spring blooming perennials and bulbs. The ground is still warming up and is too cold for the majority of annual flowers. These do best in containers at this time of year.
As far as bulbs go, everyone knows the basic tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinths. These bulbs typically need to be bought and planted in the fall, but right now you can plant any potted bulbs that are blooming. If you receive a pot of tulips as a gift, go ahead and plant them in the yard now. They will die back as if they were planted last fall, and come back again next year.
Some of your best spring blooming perennials for our area include bleeding heart, creeping phlox, forget-me-not, bachelor’s buttons, baptista or false indigo, peonies and columbine. These are all a variety of colors, shapes and sizes, giving you a great choice for spring flowers in your garden.
The good news is that right now is the best time to buy these spring bloomers. Not only can you go ahead and plant them now, but they are blooming right now so you can see what you’re getting while browsing at the greenhouse.
For adding more color to your yard, you can plant up container gardens now as well. Everyone knows the traditional spring flowers, pansies and violas. These are traditional because they are not only bright and beautiful, but they are reliable. While some spring flowers can still be a little tender with a frost warning and need to be covered, pansies and violas are very hardy.
Just because you use the traditional favorite, doesn’t mean your containers are going to be boring. There are other options to incorporate with pansies and violas to mix it up. For a little bit of height, you can use stock or ranunculus. Both of these flowers are beautiful and unique to this time of year. Another great flower to use this time of year is nemesia. Some varieties have more of a mounding habit while others trail, but either way you can't go wrong.
A lot of these spring annuals will stick around until June, when the summer heat arrives. To keep them going throughout the spring, be sure to keep them fertilized and dead-headed, taking off any spent flowers before they go to seed.
There are also a few annuals that can be planted now that will last throughout the summer. The basic accent foliage such as English ivy, spikes, vinca vine and fiber optic grass are more cold tolerant plants. Flowering plants such as lobelia, alyssum, snapdragons and fuschia can also be planted right now. The key to keeping them going is to protect them if we have a frost, keep them dead headed and fertilized. A lot of these plants will get leggy, so don’t be afraid to cut them back to get them to fill out and bloom again.
By mixing some of these more enduring annuals in with pansies and violas, you will have beautiful containers on display. The best part about these pots, is that you will only need to pop out a pansy and replace it with a geranium when the warmer weather arrives.
Another way to get a lot of color in a container right now, is to plant a spring blooming perennial in your pot. Once they are done blooming, you can transfer them into the ground to establish them so they come back next year.
With so many choices out there, it’s time to stop fighting the gardening itch and start digging.