We hear many customers coming into the store this time of the year craving color after the long winter. There are many plants that love and thrive in the cooler weather of April and early May that can provide the color they crave. All of these plants will bloom best in the cooler weather and so as the summer heats up, blooming may stop entirely. They may begin blooming again in the late summer and fall as the weather cools again. If you can occasionally cut off the spent blooms, this encourages new buds to open and keeps the plants blooming longer. All of the plants we recommend below need well-drained soil and sun (in differing amounts) to thrive and bloom well. Keep in mind that spring often brings windy conditions and even if it is a cloudy day, wind evaporates a lot of moisture from outdoor plants, so be mindful of checking for water as needed. Most of these plants will need nights to be above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Here are some of our brightly colored favorites:
Pansy: Pansies are probably the best known and very tolerant of cool weather. They will tolerate a light frost. Maintain your moisture and provide plenty of sun.
Dianthus: These plants love our alkaline soils and plenty of sun. Let them dry a bit between watering. Depending upon the variety, they can be annuals, perennials, or biennials.
Ranunculus: These peony-like flowers are gorgeous in jewel tone colors and make a great cut flower. Generally, they are 6 to 12” tall and wide. They are deer-resistant.
Nemesia: Plant these where they can get some morning sun and afternoon shade and maintain your moisture. They will be approximately 6 to 12” tall and wide.
Primrose: Provide sun but also some light shade for these and good drainage will be critical. There are annual varieties that are incredibly fragrant. Primula vulgaris is perennial in our zone but be careful to plant it where it will not sit in water from snow melt.
Cineraria: The vivid colors of these varieties are show-stoppers. They would like part sun conditions and maintain your moisture. Varieties vary from 12 to 24” tall.
Schizanthus: These are not as well- known but have beautiful orchid-like flowers. They would like to dry a bit between watering and have morning sun. Most of the varieties grow to about 18” tall.
See your local garden centers for help in choosing your colors to celebrate the arrival of spring!
This article is sponsored by McNamara at Sand Point, which has 2 acres of production greenhouses, retail florist and gift shop, as well as retail garden center and wholesale plant business. Contact McNamara by calling 260-747-4131 or visit 4322 DeForest Ave, Ft. Wayne, IN 46809.