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24th of May or bust?

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24th of May or bust?

In Toronto and Mississauga, you may be wondering, when can I plant my perennials which were delivered to my door by Plants in the City?

Did you grow up with flurry of garden activity from Mother’s day til May 24th. We sure did. Everything seemed to culminate in the May long weekend, after that it was only tending, weeding and watering, but everything was certainly in the ground. Ah, old school thinking.

In the modern age we have many resources on the internet to help us with determining when to plant and when is it too late. Let’s look at a few.

We plant after the last frost, okay that seems good. But then last year it snowed in April. According to the Farmer’s Almanac we should keep a frost diary, relying on historical data to decide when to plant. You probably don’t have one of these if you are new to gardening. I only know one person who has one.

Or perhaps you want to try taking the soil’s temperature, but this website, which was suggesting a range of 15 degrees to 35 degrees, failed to indicate how deep we needed to trowel to insert the thermometer. Not to mention that’s a 20-degree temperature swing.

Alternatively, we can eschew weather all together and go with moon phases. The theory is that perennials should be planted in the dark phase of the moon, when it is waning or from the day after the Moon is full until the day before it is new again. Most of us are so busy that we can just plant after we finish our work day, its already dark.

To start off we say that a plant is always better off in the ground than in it a pot. So, now is the best time. Whenever you are reading this is the right time. Well, if the ground isn’t frozen. If you can dig, its not frozen.

Is it too early?

If you have clay soil, and because our springs tend to be very wet, it’s best to wait until the world dries up a bit. Otherwise, you’ll be crushing the soil structure, and causing it to be compacted right where those new roots need to grow.

Is it too late?

Probably not. Almost all perennials go dormant in the winter and will simply wake up where ever they find themselves. So long as the soil isn’t actually frozen, you can probably plant.

Don’t I need to plant before the end of May?

Nope. The plants that we provide are kept in top condition by our growers until we bring them to you. They’ll adjust happily to their new digs.

Are there any exceptions?

We do recommend avoiding planting in extremely hot weather. In extremely hot weather plants tend to have more problems getting enough water to their leaves which causes wilting, so it’s better to avoid that. If you must plant in hot weather, we recommend that you dig your planting holes, and then top them up with water and wait for that to settle, before you finish filling in the hole with dirt and the plant. Then water again. In fact, this is always the best way to plant.

Any other exceptions?

Think about your site. If it is extremely exposed, or particularly difficult site, you will have most success in the spring planting season, May and June and fall planting season, September to the end of October.

Happy Planting, whenever that may be.

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  • MJ Hamilton