Spring is in the air. The allure of beautiful plants can cause serious impulse shopping, but before you spend big bucks on plants that look great today, think through how you’ll set the stage for their long-term success. Here are four key considerations:
1. Choose plants that grow well in the Pikes Peak Region. Plants with gigantic flowers and lush leaves are not likely to stay that way once they’re exposed to Colorado Springs weather. They’re often grown in greenhouses or other states with milder weather. To find tough, hardy plants that are resilient in our climate, visit waterwiseplants.org and make a favorites list of plants that will suit your needs. Browse plants that thrive at the Colorado Springs Utilities Water Wise Demonstration Gardens, surviving hail, drought, frost, and snow.
2. Buy plants from local experts. Shop for plants at local nurseries and plant sales. They sell more Rocky Mountain-grown plants than nation-wide retailers. Especially when grown outside, these plants are much less likely to be shocked with our erratic weather. Local sellers are also more likely to carry a better selection of native and well-adapted plants that will live longer and beautify your landscape with less water and maintenance.
3. Don’t plant too early. While it’s fine to plant trees, shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses and cool-season vegetables in April in May, it’s wise to wait until mid-May to plant frost-tender plants. Frost-tender plants include eye catching annual flowers and warm-season vegetables like tomatoes. It’s common for a late spring snowstorm or frost to damage geraniums and vegetable transplants. This is why most local plant sales happen around Mother’s Day.
4. Water regularly after planting. Potted plants have 5-10% of the roots they would normally compared to when they’re growing in the ground. In order to keep them alive until they grow a new root system, they need to be watered regularly. Water immediately after planting, then check the soil moisture daily for the first two weeks. Water enough to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged. Gradually cut back how often you water as the plants grow larger.
By choosing resilient plants, buying them from local sources, planting at the right time and watering consistently after planting, you’ll ensure your money and effort result in lasting beauty in your yard.
As always, don't forget to call 8-1-1 or click at co811.org at least 72 hours before any excavating project -- even those that only involve hand shovels -- to have buried utility lines marked.