It’s Too Soon (and I’m Sorry)

When is it safe to plant annuals?

Keep your cool when it’s too cool to plant.

People of the Pacific Northwest:  Stop planting summer annuals and vegetables!!! It’s too early!

As your friendly local professional gardener/plant lover, I’m just trying to do you a favor.  Our nights are still too cold.

Here’s the deal, if you live closer to the Sound, you should wait until Mother’s Day, at the least!  If you live a few short miles inland (East Tacoma, Puyallup, Graham, Eatonville…) you should wait until Memorial Day, at the very minimum.

“But, I see tomatoes and petunias for sale at the nurseries?”  I know.  Any good nursery will not let you leave the cash register without reminding you to keep those plants inside over night.  The other thing that is happening is those nurseries have to bring in the stock to guarantee good selection.  Plant sellers still bring those tender annuals in at night (at least the one’s that care about their plants).

“I’ve already planted my tomatoes?”  I noticed that.  Tomatoes hate being cold.  They’re kinda like Southern Californians.  When they get too cold, those tomato plants punish you by taking a whole lot longer to produce fruit.  You can see the cold damage on the leaves, they’ll start to look yellowish.  Sort of like the color is draining out.  You might even see black tips if those plants felt the frost.  If you see this!  Pull em’ and start over.  Never buy any plants that have these cold damaged leaves.

“I’ve planted everything!  My beds are full of Geraniums, Impatiens, and Zinnias!”  Whoops.  It’s not the end of the world, if you protect them at night.  Build some hoops over your beds and pull on the row covers at night.  This can be costly, but at least you’ll have them for next year.

You can also try out some old fashioned farmer logic and plant your summer annuals and vegetables by watching your lilacs. Once the lilacs have bloomed and the flowers have faded, then it should be warm enough to plant.

P.S. I just checked the weather and we still have plenty of nights in the low to mid 30’s.  Sorry.

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