COLD TOLERANT ANNUALS
When the first few days of warm spring weather hits, the urge to rush out and plant is strong. However, it is important to keep in mind what cool New England nights mean for your annual plants. Annuals are grown for their continuous blooms throughout the short spring and summer seasons. The challenge is those annuals are not hardy to New England winters, and do not come back each Spring season.
Even though temperatures can jump to the 70s during the day, the threat of frost is still possible in Massachusetts usually until May. This is especially true for those who live outside of Route 128.
So, does this mean you have to wait until mid May to plant up your containers and garden beds? Not at all! In addition to the early-season staples (pansies, hellebores, violas and primroses) there many stunning annuals that perform well with the cool evening temperatures.
These annuals are perfectly happy to withstand temperatures close to freezing. While these selections do need to be hardened off to survive, they will shine bright in your yard that is otherwise just waking up to the beauty of spring. The only thing you need to remember is to introduce your plants slowly to cool temperatures. As many of these annuals have grown in the comfort of a warm and sunny greenhouse, try introducing them to a covered porch for a few days before planting.
Remember, if the threat of frost is there, you’ll still need to cover with a simple frost cloth or bedsheet. Do not use plastic as it will do more damage to the plant. Water thoroughly. For those of you eager to plant up your containers with cold-tolerant annuals, you may find the need to bring them indoors or into the garage on a cool night.
We love our light-weight fiberclay pottery for this reason. With the look and durability of heavy stone, they are actually light enough to maneuver around the yard if necessary- unlike a heavy ceramic.
Our favorite cool-weather favorites: Annual Phlox, Nemesia, Diascia, Million Bells, Dusty Miller, Osteospermum, Calendula, Lobelia, Snapdragons, Verbena, Petunias and Alyssum. Don’t be afraid to experiment with succulents too! The desert plant can tolerate cool nights also!