When Can I Plant On Cape Cod?

When Can I Plant On Cape Cod?

When I moved to this area I was told that “On Cape Cod we have January, February, March, March, March, June.” The sea breeze that cools us in the summer also keeps our spring climate on the cold side. So like it or not, we’ve just entered our second month of March. After our long, cold winter, however, we all want to get into the garden! People want to replace damaged plants or start making those additions to the landscape that they’ve dreamed about all winter. Our customers are asking about when it might be possible to start planting. Here are some pointers.

Shrubs and trees that aren’t wildly accelerated can be planted as soon as we have them in the nursery. So if the plants you’re considering are just breaking dormancy as they are in the landscape, you’re safe to put them in the ground. If we happen to have gotten some deciduous varieties that are a month or so ahead in their growth you might want to put them outside during the day and in the garage at night for a couple of weeks while the weather warms. Sometimes, for example, we might get roses or hydrangeas that are accelerated because they’ve been grown in a slightly warmer location. Evergreens and plants that are just breaking dormancy are fine for planting right away.

Cool Weather Annuals such as Pansies can be planted now. Pansies are especially nice in that they will flower until July and you can go ahead and plant summer annuals in and among them in late May or early June.

Flowering Spring Bulbs that have been grown in pots can be planted in your yard and gardens, even if they are a bit ahead of those that are growing in your yard. The garden center typically has daffodils, tulips and other spring bulbs in April, especially around Easter. Plant them a bit deeper than they are in the pots to bury the bulbs sufficiently.

Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, parsley, and peas can be planted in April. The first three can be planted as small plants, and peas are usually placed into the ground as seeds.

Perennials that aren’t very accelerated can be planted as soon as we have them available. We typically get our first shipments of perennials in mid-April, depending on the weather.

Summer Flowering Annuals and Summer Vegetables are usually planted at the end of May in this area. Use the night-time temperatures as your guide. Once the temperatures at night are reliably above 50 degrees you can plant your summer flowers and crops such as tomatoes, basil and beans.

Lawns can be repaired and seeded starting in mid-April. Sod can be laid as soon as we have it available to sell. Usually the sod comes in at the beginning of April.

Will a particular plant work in your yard? Our staff is happy to answer such questions, of course, but your phone also allows access to instant information.


  1. Trisha on April 10, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Thank for the information. May be we will have a spring this year!!!!

  2. Thomas Hammel on April 10, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I’m looking for Caryopteris, Beach Plum, and Inkberries. Do you have them, of will you have them, and if so, when…

    Thanks! T/ Hammel

    • CLFornari on April 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      We don’t usually get Caryopteris in until later in the summer, since it’s a late-summer and early fall flowerer. We will have beach plum and ink berries soon if they didn’t come in today – the trucks are rolling in almost daily and the nursery is filling fast! Please call the store 508-775-8703 and ask to be transferred to the nursery and the guys will tell you if they arrived this week.

  3. Jon on April 10, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    I have daffodils planted in a large ivy bed that I plan to tear out once the daffodils are through flowering. I would like to salvage the daffodil bulbs to plant again. Can I dig up the bulbs immediately after flowering, and how should I store them before putting them back in the ground?

    • CLFornari on April 11, 2014 at 8:49 am

      You should plant them immediately, Jon. The foliage after flowering is what strengthens the bulbs for next year’s flowering and if you don’t plant them right away they loose energy all summer. Mix some Bulb-tone into the soil where you’ll plant them, get them right back in the ground, and water well.

  4. SHARON PIMENTAL on April 11, 2014 at 7:10 am

    I’m looking for a REDBUD “RISING SUN” tree. Do you know if you will get any in this year??

    • CLFornari on April 11, 2014 at 8:50 am

      Right now this is not a variety of redbud we have in stock. We have a couple of sizes of the straight species, and a weeping variety, but not the Rising Sun.

  5. Robin Fryer on April 17, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    I received three pots of miniature daffodils (I think they’re called “Tete-a-tete”)as a gift. They are through blooming now. Can I plant them in the ground to come up again next Spring?

    • CLFornari on April 17, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      Tete-a-tete are very hardy and will come up every spring in your garden. Just be sure to plant the bulbs 3 to 4 inches deep…in other words, deeper than they are growing in the pot. You can plant them out anytime now.

  6. Robin Fryer on April 18, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Wonderful! Thank you for the quick response!

  7. Helga Lupien on April 24, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Could you let me know when you have water Lillie’s for sale ? annuals ( ihad bought one last year and loved it) and perennials

  8. C.L.F. on April 25, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Helga – the water lilies are due the end of the second week of May but it might still be too cold to put them out until the third week or even the end of the month. We’ll have them in our back greenhouse when they come in if it’s still going below 50 degrees at night.

  9. Anika M. Costa on December 1, 2014 at 6:21 am

    May I plant new tulip bulbs now in December and what about established tiger lilies that I dug up and divided? What do I put into the holes / soil to keep critters from eating the bulbs.

    Thank-you, Anika Costa

    • CLFornari on December 1, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      If you live on Cape Cod or other cold climates you can still plant tulip bulbs but get them in the ground asap! Established orange daylilies or other lilies (there are two that are commonly called Tiger lilies) can be dug and divided in the spring – now is too late. To keep critters from digging up the bulbs dust them with hot red pepper, plant, water REALLY WELL and long to settle the soil (this is the most important step) and then dust the top of the soil with powdered red pepper as well.

  10. joey difazio on April 13, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    I would like to plant Tiger Lillie’s. What are my options right about now and do you sell any?


    • CLFornari on April 13, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      There are two plants that people commonly call tiger lilies – one is the spreading orange day lily and another is the tall, late-summer blooming orange true lily. We periodically get both in. Right now some of the perennials are due to land this week, with more to follow. Come in next week and talk to Tracy or Noel about which variety you’re looking for.

  11. Leo Ferron on September 26, 2015 at 6:37 am

    When should I plant tulip bulbs that I purchased from you?

    • CLFornari on September 26, 2015 at 7:40 am

      Plant the tulip bulbs anytime now – Late Sept or October is perfect becasuse the weather is nice for working outside, and the bulbs have plenty of time to start growing roots before winter. Enjoy!

  12. Sue on November 14, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Is it to late to plant grass seed?

    • CLFornari on November 14, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      Sue – yes, it’s too late at this point. For grass to germinate you need temperatures above 60 on a daily basis and we’re past that point. Wait until mid-April.

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