Weather is finally warm & there’s still time to plant

hanging baskets in Springville NY
You can add a pop of color with annuals in a hanging basket. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
dahlias in bloom
Shop throughout the season. There may be a plant that you’ve walked past before, but when you see it in bloom, you simply fall in love. These are various dahlias, and the burgundy one in front is Dalina Grande ‘Cancun’. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

The spring was so wet and cold, everything is running two weeks behind. Gardeners couldn’t get plants in the ground when they wanted to. Perennials that should be in bloom now are lagging.

The good news is that the weather now is great for planting. And the even better news is that there is still time to plant.

“You can plant perennials throughout the season,” said Ethan Waterman, manager of Waterman’s Greenhouse, 12317 Vaughn St. (Route 240), East Concord (Springville). If the weather gets hot, you may have to make sure you water newly planted perennials more, but they will do fine with proper care.

And as we’ve said before, it’s good to visit garden centers throughout the season. If you shop only in May, you may be drawn to plants that are blooming then. If those are the only plants you buy, you will find you don’t have blooming perennials later in the season.

You still have time to get vegetables in the ground, too, Waterman said. You probably have until July 1. If you’re concerned that you’re getting tomatoes in the ground later than you would have liked, look for varieties that produce fruit in a shorter amount of time. For example, you might choose an Early Girl, which produces fruit about 60 days from the time the seed was planted, rather than a beefsteak tomato, which takes 72 days.

Don’t forget about annual flowers. Using annuals is a great way to add a pop of color if your perennials beds aren’t blooming yet, or if you have a break between the time one perennial finishes blooming and another starts.

“To me, I want those splashes of color between perennials and shrubs,” Waterman said. “It brings out the color of the shrubs.”

Supertunia petunias in Springville New York
The ‘Supertunia’ petunia is an annual that flowers all season, spreads out well and doesn’t need deadheading. The light purple is ‘Priscilla’ and the dark purple is ‘Royal Velvet’. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

One plant he likes a lot is the ‘Supertunia’ petunia.

“There’s no deadheading,” he said. (Deadheading is removing the dead flower to encourage the plant to flower again.) “It’s a good spreader and flowers all season long.”

In addition to annuals for your garden beds, you can get annuals already planted up in hanging baskets. If you don’t want to hang it, you can take the hanger off. You can place the plant into your own decorative pot if you like. (Waterman’s has huge hanging baskets at very reasonable prices. The garden center is a half hour from McKinley Mall and it’s a lovely drive.)

Tip: Waterman said you should fertilize your potted annuals at least three times a week. Follow the recommended rates on the fertilizer. Don’t use too much fertilizer or you burn the roots.

I have to admit that I’m a lazy gardener and have skipped fertilizing in previous years. Even when I’m good about watering my annuals, they tend to look a bit raggedy as the summer wears on.

“You’ve got to fertilize,” Waterman insisted. “It makes a big difference.”

I vow to fertilize my potted annuals this year!

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