Winter was a bit of a bust here in the Midwest. Not much snow to cover the grey and brown outside left me yearning for Spring. It’s finally here in Northwest Ohio, though we are having cooler than normal temperatures right now. It’s time to choose some plants from Monrovia to brighten your garden and your day.
The choices are rather scanty right now and some early Spring freezes have made it difficult for garden centers to keep their stock healthy. One store had to clear out all their hydrangeas and clematis plants because they were all burnt and damaged by the unseasonably cold temperatures. Thankfully, another Monrovia dealer near me was smart enough to keep all their stock on movable carts inside the store and moved them out during the day when the temperatures rose above freezing. Though we still have to consider protecting tender plants from the danger of frosts and freezes don’t let that keep you from considering how we can enhance our landscape for the coming warmer weather.
Whether you are a gardening newbie or you are a seasoned pro it’s always best to remember a few important things when planting season comes around –
5 Best Spring Planting Tips
- ZONE – What is your planting zone? They shifted a few years ago so you may need to double check a reputable garden site, like Monrovia, for the most up to date information. Knowing this will help you make the best choices for zone hardy perennials or less tolerant potted plants that you can bring inside when need be.
- LIGHT NEEDS – All plants need sunlight. Not all plants need or can tolerate the same amount of sun exposure. If you have a specific area to plant in mind make sure to check it at least three times during the day to measure how much light it gets through the day. If you have a plant/plant type in mind check it’s sunlight needs to better choose a suitable spot in your landscape.
- Full Sun – 6 hours of unfiltered direct sun
- Partial Sun – at least 4 but less than 6 hours of direct sun
- Filtered Sun – bright exposture, but indirect sun as filterered through leafy branches 4-6 hours
- Partial Shade – between 3 and 4 hours of sun with requirement for mid-day protection from hot sun
- Full Shade – less than 3 hours of direct sun per day
- Some rules of thumb that may simplify this process –
- North facing areas rarely get direct sun exposure. These are best for full shade plants.
- South facing areas get full direct sun and are best for flowering plants and edibles.
- East facing areas get full sun in the morning when it’s still dewy and cool.
- West facing areas get full sun in the afternoon when it’s much hotter. This is best for heat tolerant plants.
- SOIL COMPOSITION & DRAINAGE – Is your soil wet, well-drained or dry? Is it acidic or alkali? This will make a difference in which plant will be best suited to plant there. Also, you can choose to amend the soil with compost or garden soil or raise the garden bed to improve the drainage and pH for the specified plant.
- TIP: For plants like Rhododendron and Blueberry that like acid soil put used coffee grounds in the soil when planting and continuously add them through the season.
- If your landscape is typically dry and you don’t have a reliable or convenient way to water super thirsty plants in the long term you may want to consider getting one of Monrovia’s WaterWise plants. Once established their water needs are low and can tolerate periods of drought better.
- CHOOSE A HEALTHY PLANT – Choose a plant that meets your garden needs as specified above. At the store before purchase, you should carefully inspect the plants to make sure you are getting the healthiest, most likely to survive re-planting stress plant. Check for bruises, broken limbs, and uneven shape of the plant. The leaves should be brightly colored as should be any blooms; dry, brown or yellowing leaves are signs of stress or disease. Make sure the plant isn’t much bigger than it’s pot – if it is this could indicate unhealthy roots. Check that the soil isn’t too dry or too wet. Inspect for insect infestation. Any fungus gnats could destroy this plant and any others it’s planted near.
- CONSIDER YOUR PLANTS MATURE SIZE AND GROWTH HABIT. Just because a plant looks dainty and cute today doesn’t mean it won’t turn into an unwieldy monster in a year or two. If you don’t mind lots of pruning and preening or want something that is going to spread then by all means get a plant the has a fast growth rate and habit of spreading. Conversely, if you want a specimen plant that will fill a certain space within a few years and not grow beyond a certain size be aware of what it’s projected adult size will be and how long it will take to fill that space. If your plant has a fairly slow growth habit you may need to add filler plants – annual or perennial to fill the space until your specimen is large enough to hold it’s own in the landscape.
What kinds of plants does Monrovia offer?
Practically any plant imaginable is available from Monrovia. They aren’t available in every market though. Go to their Plant Catalog to shop for your garden plant needs by zone, sun exposure, water needs, and garden type among other filters to see what is available before you go to the local partner garden center. Click here to find the Monrovia dealer nearest you.
Early Spring Landscape Planning in My Garden
Taking my own advice I set out to find perennials that would fit my landscape needs. At first my goal was to add a few perennials to the Monrovia planting I did last year of variegated lavender and Miss Kim Korean Lilac that are planted in full sun in front of my house. The problem was most of the plants I found required regular weekly watering and extra watering during particularly hot periods and I currently don’t have a reliable way to keep plants in that area well watered. There were a few very pretty dianthus, but I felt their foliage and habit for spreading was not really what I wanted in my front landscape.
My plan had to change. The shade garden became the focus of my plant shopping. This garden is replete with hostas and I didn’t want any plants that would soon die back and leave little foliage interest the rest of the season. This was when I came upon a cart of Huechera or Coral Bells. They typically have a short mounding habit and send up long spikes of teeny flowers that last through most of Spring, Summer and Fall. Hummingbirds love them!!! I have a few small dark green ones right outside my back window and I can safely watch the hummingbirds come feed without disturbing them. When I found these shade loving plants with interesting colored leaves I knew I’d found the perfect addition to my back patio garden.
There is one clump of variegated leaf hostas that has been left lonely on the West side of my patio that is shielded by a fence. This will be the perfect place to plant the Coral Bells. It gets full sun in the morning when it’s still cool and dappled shade underneath the Honey Locust and King Crimson Maple trees flanking the area.
The two I chose are the Peach Flambe and Midnight Rose Coral Bells. I love the bright peach and flaming red of the Peach Flambe and the dark reddish-green and rose pink dappled leaves of the Midnight Rose. I really wanted to get the Caramel variety with it’s large, soft bright golden to deep peach leaves, but too many of them looked stressed out and damaged and I didn’t want to risk it.
The two specific plants picked looked like their colors were good with no fading, their stems were strong and upright and the plant base looked hardy with no pests and lots of signs of new growth! In a few years, or maybe even next year, the plants can be divided to spread the joy of their colorful leaves and dainty sweet flowers across my shade garden.