Flowers for outside right now? Pansies. More cool-weather flowers available next week

pansy in Buffalo
Pansy. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
million bells in Amherst NY 2010
Calibrachoa ‘Million Bells’. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

In other years you might have been able to work the soil and plant some cool-weather annuals in your flower beds at the beginning of April, but not this year, said Mark Yadon, vice president of Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville.

“It’s crazy,” he said.”It’s been too cold.

“My advice for this year is to do your early plantings in containers.”

Even if this past weekend’s snow has melted from your yard, your garden might still be frozen solid. And even if you have several inches of soil thawed at the top, you still can’t plant because the ground underneath hasn’t thawed yet.

osteospermum in Amherst NY
Osteospermum daisy. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

Right now your garden bed is like a pot with no drainage holes, Yadon explained. When we get some rain, the frozen ground won’t let the rain drain and your plants could rot.

We know you’re aching for flowers, and even if your spring bulbs aren’t blooming yet, you can have flowers outside now. However, instead of planting them in a garden bed now, stick to containers, Yadon suggested.

The flowers we’re talking about today can all tolerate some frost.

You can start with pansies, which are available now at Mischler’s. They’ve been hardened off (moved from the warm greenhouse and gradually acclimated to colder temperatures).

Diascia in Amherst NY
Diascia. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

In other years, a larger variety of frost-tolerant flowers would be available by April, but  “We’re about a week or ten days behind because of the weather,” Yadon said. By next week a wider range of flowers and ornamental plants will be available.

Here are some of the frost-tolerant plants that should be available next week:

  • Calibrachoa ‘Million Bells’ is a popular annual because it is showy and should perform well all summer.
  • Diascia  is an annual with a small, delicate flower. It comes in various colors.
  • Osteospermum daisy or African daisy is grown as an annual in Western New York, and it is another showy flower.

    Red coleus in foreground contrasts with yellow foliage of creeping jenny, used as a ground cover in a Buffalo garden. Creeping jenny can also be used in container, where it can trail over the edge of the pot. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
    Red coleus in foreground contrasts with yellow foliage of creeping jenny, used as a ground cover in a Buffalo garden. Creeping jenny can also be used in container, where it can trail over the edge of the pot. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
  • Creeping jenny, also known as lysimachia or golden money wort, is popular in container plantings for its yellow foliage that can trail over the side of the pot. Tip: This plant is a perennial, so when the ground does warm up, you can plant it as a ground cover in your garden bed. Other perennial ground covers include lamium and sedums.  Also look for ornamental grasses.
  • Spring bulbs. To have spring flowers such as hyacinths, daffodils and tulips in your garden, you have to plant the bulb in fall. If you didn’t do that, you can buy the plants at Mischler’s already started in individual four-inch pots. You can transplant them into a dish garden, window box or other container.

Mark your calendars for Mischler’s yearly 49-cent perennial sale, which will run from Friday, April 25 to Saturday, May 3. Go early for the best selection.

The plants will be sold only in packs of four for $1.96 per pack. More than 75 varieties will be available. Check out the list of plants and start planning your spring garden.

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