Enjoy Early Spring Color

Enjoy Early Spring Color


Push the seasonal envelope with early-bird annuals that keep on blooming even through an occasional unexpected frost.
My Grandmother always told me that gardening would teach me patience. That if I let Mother Nature take her course, things in the garden would eventually bloom and flourish. But sadly, I’m not a patient man (just ask my wife Karen), particularly after a long winter when I haven’t seen garden color in months.

That’s why, in recent years, I try to push the seasonal envelope with early-bird annuals that keep on blooming even through an occasional unexpected frost. I start the process in late winter, pacing the aisles of my local mass merchants and garden centers every week hoping to catch a small glimpse of color I can buy for my garden. It could be a single flat of pansies or possibly an end cap of cyclamen. It really doesn’t matter, I’m just so starved for color, I have my credit card out of my wallet in seconds.

Called the “shoulder seasons” by the gardening industry, early spring and late fall are amazing times to restart or renew your garden. Some of my favorite cool-weather plants include: pansy, dusty miller, petunia, viola, cyclamen, snapdragon, lobelia, calendula, Swiss chard, ajuga, creeping phlox, primrose, wallflower, osteospermum, argyranthemum, asparagus fern, creeping jenny, and artemisia.

When possible I like to mix and match different cool weather plants together in a container placed near the end of my driveway or near my front door. That way I get a quick jolt of spirit-lifting color, whenever I come home. In this large pale blue container I’ve mixed 'Bright Lights' Swiss chard, with yellow pansies, silver dusty miller, and chartreuse creeping Jenny, which will eventually cascade over the edge of the pot. What I like about this combination is that all of the plants, except the pansies, are heat tolerant, too! So, once the temperatures climb all I have to do is pop out the wilting pansies and replace them with a heat-resistant yellow-flowering plant such as dwarf marigold.

Keeping early bloomers happy is a snap, too. Use a good quality potting soil and water them whenever the soil surface feels dry to the touch. Place the pot in a sunny spot and feed every few weeks with a dilute solution of liquid plant food. To promote continuous bloom clip away any pansy flowers as they fade.

For more inspiration check out 12 Annual Flowers That Can Take the Cold.