Question: What you can plant now in Colorado?
Answer: Lots of stuff! Probably more than you think!
Okay, so gardening in Colorado comes with some challenges. I was born and raised here. I know Mother Nature can be a little fickle. But there are ways to work around most of her moods… Sometimes, we can even have her mid- to late-spring weather work to our advantage.
Let’s start with Rule #1: “Hardening off”
“Hardening off” is gardening talk for acclimating a plant… helping it adjust from its home in a greenhouse to its new home outdoors. And it’s especially important in places like Colorado where greenhouse life is so different from real-world life in our gardens.
Even plants that are a perfect fit for conditions in our Front Range landscapes will benefit from being able to ease into their new home gradually rather than being thrown into it without any time to adapt.
So here’s Rule #1: When you buy a plant… any plant…. that’s been growing inside a greenhouse, give it five or six days of “training” to adjust to the change. Example: Lettuce can tolerate cool nights just fine. But if you buy one of the big, beautiful window boxes of lettuce or mixed greens now available at Tagawa Gardens and just plop it down outside without hardening it off, it’s likely to struggle. Even with plenty of water, the sudden shock of wind and sunshine and low humidity could easily send it into a full-on pout.
Instead, set it out in the shade for a day or two…. bring it into the garage at night…. then set it out again the next day. Over the next few days, gradually introduce it to a little more morning sun. Stop taking it into the garage at night. After five days or so, you’ll have trained it well. Your plant will be tougher and grow better over the coming season.
Onto the planting, starting with veggies!
Some vegetables that do well along Colorado’s Front Range actually prefer temperatures that are still on the cool side. Leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard and lettuce will thrive in our cooler night temps, ‘though its best to protect them if there’s a freeze warning. Mid- to late-spring is also a great time to plant asparagus, potatoes and onions.
Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are good crops to plant now, too, along with radishes, beets and peas. If you’re planting seedlings (tiny plants) as opposed to seed, just remember Rule #1 (see above) about hardening off.
Our average last frost here is around Mother’s Day, so hold off until then to plant the heat-loving veggies like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, unless you’re protecting them with Walls o’ Water or other coverings. Squash, cucumbers, pumpkins and beans are also frost sensitive and would prefer the warmer temperatures that are still a few weeks away.
Anxious to plant some annuals for early color? Can do!
Tagawa Gardens has plenty to choose from right now! The list includes alyssum, calendula, calibrachoa, carnations, dianthus, dusty miller, lamium, lobelia, pansies, snapdragons, stocks and violas. Tagawa’s annuals department has dozens more you can choose from. Our staff will be happy to guide you.
Perennials are pouring in!
Every time I walk through the Perennials Department at Tagawa Gardens these days, the selection has grown by hundreds of plants! And the season is just beginning!
Perennials love being planted in mid- to late spring. It’s easy for them to begin to settle in while the days are cooler. Right now at Tagawa’s you’ll find beautiful columbine, shade-loving huechera, foxgloves and yarrow…. The list goes on!
Remember, if they’re growing in one of the enclosed areas of our Perennials Department, the plants should be hardened off before planting. If they’re in an outdoor area, little or no hardening off will be needed. Ask one of our Perennials experts if you have any questions.
Trees and shrubs ready for planting now? Oh ya!
Tagawa’s Nursery Department is up and running in a big way! Fruit trees, shade trees, conifers, flowering shrubs…. they’re available now and ready for planting! Our selection of drought-tolerant shrubs is expanding every week.
Most of what you’re seeing in our Nursery area is being displayed in full sun and won’t need any hardening off. It’s ready to go!
Planting trees and shrubs can help create or reinforce the “bones” of your landscape…. giving it structure and definition. If you’re interested in adding some of these woody plants to your yard, why not bring in a cell phone picture of the areas you’re considering? That will help our Nursery staff help you to make just the right choice.
No need to wait!
I’m not saying Mother Nature may not have another curve ball or two to throw our way before warm weather sets in for good. But there are so many plants that are right at home in our changeable mid- to late-spring gardens. They can take some ups and downs, and go on to perform brilliantly for the coming season.