Is It Safe To Plant Outside?

Is It Safe To Plant Outside?

As the garden center fills with beautiful plants for the summer season, our customers are asking if they can plant what they see outdoors. “Can I put my tomatoes in?” one man asked today, and yesterday a woman called wanting to know if she could plant the basil outdoors.

Today is May 1st and we live on Cape Cod…although it will get in the upper sixties or even low seventies later in the week, the nights and our soils are still cool. Here is your general guideline for planting:

  • Most perennials are safe to plant in the ground. Our perennials are placed outside when they arrive from the growers, and they are therefore used to “the real world.”

    This is our perennial section. All of these plants have been outdoors for at least a week, so it’s safe to put these in the ground.

  • Some annuals are more cold tolerant than others. Pansies, of course, but also snap dragons. All the annuals that are outside at the front section of our store can be planted out of doors. Those annuals that are still in our greenhouses, however, are there for a reason. If you buy these plants now, put them outside in the morning and inside at night until the nights are warmer.
  • Your general rule of thumb is that you want the night temperatures to be reliably above 50 before you plant summer annuals and vegetables.

Here is the forecast for the first week in May. At the end of the week the night temperatures are going below 50, so it’s still a bit chancy. Knowing how the Cape spring usually goes, it’s likely to be chilly into the third week in May. Better to be safe than sorry…

  • It’s too early to plant heat-loving plants like basil, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and beans. You can plant lettuce, kale, broccoli, pak choi and many herbs now. If you see vegetable plants outside at our store, it’s safe to plant them in your garden. But the warm weather crops can’t go in until later in May.

    It’s too early to plant these tomatoes outside. You can either grow them on in pots that you put out in the day and bring in at night, or wait to purchase plants a bit later in the month.

    Most of the Proven Winners annuals are warm weather lovers. If they are inside our greenhouse, chances are it’s too cold for them to survive outside. While there are a few exceptions to this, in general it’s better to wait for placing these in your garden. 

    We’ve got some beautiful tropical plants in right now that will be lovely in containers for decks, patios and front porches. But these plants will decline if put out too early – put them out during the day and inside at night until late May.

    One of our customers told me that she wanted to buy her Mandevilla now because she was afraid we might be out later in May. Although we get many of these in, once the weather warms they will, indeed, fly out of store. So this woman wanted to get the plant now knowing that she’ll wait to plant it until after the nights are suitably warm.

    Our shade frame in the perennial section is a colorful tapestry of Heucheras! These can be planted now.


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