Story by Lindsey Chester. Photos by Hal Goodtree.
Cary, NC – The soil is finally starting to get warm here in the Piedmont. Time to plant flowers for the summer.
Starting when the green pollen falls from the lob lolly pines in mid April (now), look for colorful annual flowers that can take root when the soil is starting to warm up.
Early to Mid-April
You can add some pansies, but know that they will need replacing in only 6 weeks. Marigolds will give you color now through the fall.
Newer varieties of Coleus haver been bred to handle a wider range of sun. These lovelies come in variegated shades of green, lime, blue, pink and dark red and will get 18″ tall and bushy by mid summer. Then they will grace you with some flowers. If you are super lucky, they may self seed too for a free plant next spring!
Marigolds will give you some freebies too, if you continue to deadhead them and drop the dead blooms back into the garden, Each flower is chock full of marigold seeds and surely one or two will germinate for a free plant or two!
Mid-April you can also plant the following herbs: Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (like the song), feverfew, mint (keep that in pots lest it take over), licorice, dill and fennel.
Wait another few weeks before planting your basil. This sun lover needs soil that is really warm to set its roots, or it won’t thrive. Ditto for tomatoes, although the garden centers had plenty of both last week, I am holding off.
If you want lettuce and chard, you missed the boat, those should have been planted back in February or March to be harvesting now. So remember that for next year. In fact, lettuce can also be planted for a fall crop.
Daisies and black-eyed susans should also wait a week or two, plan those for the beginning of May. Begonias too. These aren’t even in the garden centers yet, so you will have to wait til you see them, begonias with their selection of reds, pinks and whites need heat for their succulent leaves to stay hardly and not wilt.
In May plant your begonias, basil, tomatoes and cilantro. These plants like it HOT! Portulaca, is a flowering annual succulent that looks great in dry sunny areas of the garden or interspersed with some stonecrop sedum varieties. Sweet Potato vine is also great at this time, it creeps around the edges of the garden or trails out of containers in either a shocking lime, or purple black. It loves it hot, but not to searing or dry.
You should be done planting by now unless you see areas in the garden you want to give extra punch to, or something failed that needs replacing. Stick to pots at this time of year, and place them around the garden to try plants out in different spots. If they do well in one of these locations, consider putting them in the ground there the following Spring.
You could try some ornamental grasses too – Mexican feather grass, monkey grass, sedge, black mondo grass, liriope are excellent choices and drought tolerant, so they can handle our heat and dry summers.
After June, you will just be weeding, watering and enjoying the fruits of your labor. So get busy now – it’ll be summer in the Piedmont before you know it!