The Garden Diva in May

Bedding Plants

Dear Readers, it is here! The month of May, when all is blissful, all is green, and gardens are finally planted.
So then, you are all of f to the local store to buy your bedding plants? Not quite so quickly, dear reader. Learn from The Garden Diva’s (TGD) folly, read some of her mistakes, so you don’t have to make your own.

Over the years, TGD has often found herself promising the tres wonderful garden diva husband that she would only purchase a certain dollar value of bedding plants. (No dear reader, you don’t want to know how much. Sufficed to say that there were zero’s and decimal points.) After many sad reckonings, TGD now takes her garden plans, carefully calculates the number of bedding plants she requires, and makes a list. Here is the important part, dear reader, she only purchases what is on the list. (Honestly dear reader, why are you snickering? Have you been talking to the garden diva husband again?)

Next, consider when you want to plant. Remember, the average last frost date is May 7th. (TGD plants all her garden seeds around this time, if not earlier). It is often best to wait a bit until putting your bedding plants out - many people go to their local garden centre or store on the first day of the May long weekend. TGD tends to go before this, to ensure that she has the absolute best selection, and the healthiest plants. Often she will go on the Friday night. This is when the veteran gardeners go. Wear comfortable shoes and have a list. You will need them.
Perhaps the most important thing to consider when buying bedding plants is the health of the plant. Choose good sized plants with healthy leaves. Examine the plants closely. The soil should be moist. Avoid plants that are very dry (the plant will feel very light and the dirt will be light brown and hard) or plants that are very wet (water drips out of the soil when squeezed, or there is evidence of moss or mold).

Check for sun damage – yellow or brown spots on leaves, or insects – small portions of the leaves looking chewed, holes in the leaves, bugs on the undersides of plants or rolled up leaves.
Look at the roots, they should not be coming out of the bottom of the plant cell. Carefully grasp a seedling at it’s base, pull it out of the plant cell. You should be able to see a good root system, but avoid roots that are spiralled around the plant – these are root bound and may not transplant well.

Choose plants that are a good size, and quite bushy. You don’t want spindly little seedlings that will die in full sun. Review TGD’s columns from May 2007 regarding planting, and the April 2007 column on getting your dirt ready.

Finally dear reader, a note about where to buy your plants – feel free to purchase your geraniums, your petunias and your pansies from where ever you can find them on sale (just get healthy ones). If you are purchasing more expensive and exotic bedding plants, or if you are purchasing perennials, do not purchase those from anything other than a garden centre. A garden center can provide you with good information about the location to plant your new darling, any extra soil amendments, and if necessary, any overwintering measures to take. Really dear readers, a knowledgeable garden centre is a gardener’s greatest asset.

TGD lives and gardens in Edmonton, with the trés wonderful gardening diva husband and the non-gardening dogs. She insists that every yard should have a flower or two. Next month she shall talk about your front lawn. Yes dear reader, yours. The one with all the weeds in it.