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Spring Planting ~ Late April

Common questions we hear in late April are: “What can I plant now?” or “Is it safe to plant…” So here’s a quick rundown of what can be planted in Cape Cod landscapes in the next two weeks.

Perennials

It’s fine to plant perennials now. Even those that are a bit accelerated in their blooming should be fine, although, of course, if there’s a freaky drop in temperatures into twenties the flowers might get frosted. Even if that happens the plants won’t be killed, so go right ahead and put some new selections in your perennial garden.

Perennials that are outside at the garden center have been hardened off, and can get placed right into the garden.

Annnuals

The annuals that are outside at Hyannis Country Garden can be planted now. Pansies are fine, of course. Soon the other cold-tolerant annuals such as snap dragons and petunias will join those spring beauties. But it’s too cold to plant most of the summer flowers. If they’re not outside at the garden center, there’s a reason!

We have several annuals in six packs and pots in our greenhouse, and some of these could be hardened off over the next two weeks by putting them outside during the day and bringing them into a house or garage at night. Once the night temperatures are consistently closer to fifty degrees it will be safe to plant them outside.

These dianthus, calendula and verbena annuals can be hardened off over the next week or two and planted outside in early May.

Vegetables

There are several vegetables that can be put into the garden now. It’s ok for broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and cabbage plants to go in now. (They are outside at Country Garden so well hardened off.) You can also plant seeds for peas, lettuce, arugula, radishes, kale, and onions/leeks. It’s too early for the other summer crops such as beans, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and squash…wait until night time temperatures are reliably above 50 degrees for these plants or direct-sown seeds.

This is how a typical Cape Cod vegetable garden looks in late April. The garlic is getting larger (green plant on the right) and there are red-leaf lettuce plants growing next to the garlic. Other lettuce, pea and radish seeds are planted but not yet up. The garden has been weeded so it’s ready to plant as temperatures warm.

Herbs

Herbs that can go directly into the outdoors now, be they in pots or the ground, include parsley, mint, sage, chives, thyme and oregano. Herbs that can be put outside for the day and in at night include lemon verbena, stevia and rosemary. It’s a bit too early for French tarragon and basil, however. Again, use the 50 degree nights as your guide to safety.

It’s safe to plant mint…but you might want to put this plant in a pot. Mint will take over a vegetable or herb garden if it isn’t contained.

Shrubs and Trees

If we have it in stock it’s safe to plant. But if a shrub is in flower in the nursery but that plant isn’t in flower in the landscape, the blooms might get zapped if there’s an unusual hard frost. The plant won’t die in these situations, however. Spring is a good time to get landscape plants in the ground as they will have all summer to get established.

Any flowering plant that looks similar to what’s blooming in the landscape will be fine, frost or not. So the early blooming azaleas or rhododendrons, magnolias, cherries, forsythia and crabapples won’t be hurt by cold temperatures.

Other plants you can add for spring color are the bulbs. Tulips, daffodils and hyacinths are good to put in the garden or containers in late April.

No matter what you’re planting, be sure to water the new additions well after they’re in…even if rain is predicted. Enjoy!

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