Don’t plant flowers too early in season

 

Courtesy Photo.  One of the most hearty & beautiful flowers seen in the spring in this region is the Pasque. Because of the ever-changing weather conditions of Nebraska, flowers need to be hearty to survive

Courtesy Photo. One of the most hearty & beautiful flowers seen in the spring in this region is the Pasque. Because of the ever-changing weather conditions of Nebraska, flowers need to be hearty to survive

 

By ROGER HOLSINGER
Star-Herald Assistant Editor

 According to the calendar spring has arrived. But in western Nebraska there is always a chance for a spring snowstorm and chilly temperatures that can stunt or even kill young plants.
Jim Neuwirth, owner of ABC Nursery in Scottsbluff, said one of the most common mistakes made by gardeners is planting too early.
“Many plants can survive the cold temperatures but the high winds followed by snow and ice can be too much for young plants,” he said.
He said for those wanting to get a jump on early planting need to think about where the plants will be placed and suggests that a protected area from the wind is key.
In addition, Neuwirth said people should not plant annual seeds too early as well.
“Seeds won’t germinate right now and won’t until the soil temperature is around 45 degrees at a minimum,” he said.
Neuwirth said he recommends people to wait on annuals until Mother’s Day but his best advice is to look out the window, check the temperature and  be aware of the long-range forecast or else you might be replanting a few times.
Neuwirth said while people might want to wait on planting annuals and perennials, shrubs and trees can be planted now, although he suggests waiting to plant roses for a few more weeks.
According to the University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, some of the earliest flowers to bloom are strong enough to bloom even through a snowdrift. Spring bulbs like snowdrops, squill and crocus are some of the earliest flowers to open, with daffodils, hyacinths and tulips soon to follow.
There are also some perennials that will bloom in the chilly spring temperatures, although INAR states how well the flower will do depends greatly on each microclimate.
Perennials like Lenten rose, Hellebore with its large cup-shaped flowers will open in early spring and continue to provide color for eight to 10 weeks.
The colors range from pale green to white, pink and purple and the plant prefers rich, organic, well-drained soils in part to full shade and protection from cold winter winds. Clumps establish fairly quickly and foliage is wide, glossy and semi-evergreen.
Another hearty plant is the Pasque flower, Pulsatilla. The flowers are bell-shaped and come in shades or blue, violet, yellow and white. The flowers open in March or April and develop plume-like seed heads. The foliage is silvery and covered with hair. The flower is native to prairies and requires good drainage.
Another beautiful perennial is Brunnera and is mainly grown for its attractive heart-shaped foliage, but it also has highly attractive forget-me-not like blue flowers. The cultivar ‘Jack Frost’ has beautiful silver leaves with green veins.
n Lungwort, Pulmonaria. Though lungwort is more known for its silvery, white-mottled foliage, the attractive spring flowers tend to be a mix of pale pink and blue at the same time. It prefers rich, cool, moist sites and afternoon shade. Grows 8 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
n Candytuft, Iberis sempervirens. In April, masses of white flowers attract butterflies. Growing to just 10 inches tall, it’s a great addition to a rock garden or border edging. The bright green foliage is semi-evergreen.
n Bleeding Heart, Dicentra. Flower displays begin in April and last up to six weeks or more. Flowers are usually pink, red or white and attract hummingbirds. Fine cut foliage accents the dangling heart-shaped flowers carried on long arching stems. Grows 10-30 inches tall in full or part shade.
n Columbine, Aquilegia. A great spring-blooming perennial for full sun to part shade that will naturalize in optimum conditions. Foliage is delicate and April/May flowers have distinctive spurs.
n Bluebells, Mertensia. Pink flower buds open to clusters of pendulous blue flowers. Foliage dies back by mid-summer so they are best massed and left undisturbed in shady woodland areas, possibly interplanted with ferns or hostas to cover fading foliage.
n Blue star, Amsonia. Powdery blue flowers open in April-May on feathery green foliage that will turn golden yellow in fall. Cutting back the foliage after flowering will result in a tighter foliage mound. Prefers part shade.
Another way to bring color to your yard is planting shrubs and trees.
Some of the earliest to bloom is witchhazel, which flashes its color in February. From then on others begin to bloom including flowering dogwood, forsythia, cherry, plum, magnolia, chokeberry, serviceberry, viburnum, redbud, buckeye, weigela and sweet shrub.

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