Hello fellow readers,
As I write you it’s Easter Monday when the tradition of egg rolling contests are taking place. But we woke to snow. Seven inches of it. An egg-shaped snowball could be charming…. Not to worry, it will melt quickly and the daffodils under the snow this morning will be just fine.
John from Hope NJ asked when he should put his overwintered pots filled with perennials outside. Normally I’d have done so by late March. Before they sprout, but after the risk the soil in the pots could experience a hard freeze. However, this year has put a wrench in protocols.
You may recall last summer I fessed up about my naked pots. I was too late to track down my favored annuals and opted to dress them with perennials instead; one of which was iffy in our zone. I overwintered the pots in the unheated garage. Then December’s weeks of single digits dropped the garage well below freezing and the soil in the pots froze which was a concern. However, the pots were moist when I brought them in (not wet which is a no-no) and I checked them periodically over the winter to be sure they were moist. A few weeks ago, the plants began to sprout. Even the zone 6 Bessia came to life (Beesia deltophylla) from Dan Hinkley’s Collection; the legendary plantsman known for collecting and propagating unusual plants. What a thrill! I offered my babies more water and a light amount of fertilizer and danced with excitement that they survived.
So, while I normally would have placed the pots outside in a protected area in late March, now that they have three inches of tender new growth, I plan to wait and see what the outside gardens tell me to do. When I see new growth in the gardens, hopefully in a few weeks, I’ll place my sprouted pots in their spot next to the house where the new growth will remain protected and I’ll cover them with sheets should frost be in the forecast. Not to say the perennials won’t recover if they freeze their little faces, but why not take advantage of the jumpstart the anomaly of March created by delaying my normal overwintering pot protocols.
That’s a long answer to John’s question. The short version – If your overwintered pots of perennials haven’t sprouted, it’s typically safe to put them outside in late-March in a protected spot. Be sure the soil is moist and once you see new growth, begin watering and fertilizing the pots. You can move them to your desired location for the season after the risk of frost, typically May 19th here. Houseplants or tropical plants you enjoy outside in the summer should stay indoors until after June 8th.
For now, treat yourself to a splash of color with pots of pansies or violas. They will survive a frost, even a brief hard freeze. Just as we will survive our snowy spring start. Garden Dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com