outdoor growing in massachusetts

The freezing rain held off until we hustled back to the parking lot. Cold hardy annuals like pansies and violas can be planted safely in early to mid April depending on the weather. For timing, consider the area of your property where you wish to plant. Sunnier areas can accept annuals earlier than cooler shaded spots. Some hosta still look like asparagus poking out of the ground, while in otherspots they are in full circular bloom.

Don't be seduced by the early appearance of flats of sunny impatiens at big box stores. It's tempting, but those colorful darlings spent their infancy in a warm greenhouse. Remember that annuals are just tropicals in the wrong neighborhood. Popping them into the cold ground can cause a significant shock. More dangerous are the heavy rains we often experience here in Zones 6a to b throughout April and May. Those tiny upstarts can't swim yet, so sitting in a pool of accumulated precipitation just isn't condusive to good growth. Besides, those early flats are typically overpriced.

The best deals begin when the Michigan grown flats appear in May at Eastern Market (go after 2:00 pm for the best deals) or some of the local grower's greenhouse. Locally grown plants have a greater likelihood of thriving. Newer non-native favorites like Angelonia and Cleome should wait untilmid June. Block's Marketstand and Greenhouse is a personal favorite, but each gardener has their own. Block's opens when the plants are good and ready, and not a moment before. A call to the greenhouse in mid April results in a recording informing the caller that "We will open around the end of April." It's worth the wait. The flowers are healthy, the selection endless, and the prices low. Even if the plants are local, it's still best to "harden" them off. This takes only a couple days, and involves no more than setting them out during the daylight hours, and bringing them in at dusk. Perennials are plants that, once planted, usually return year after year in your​ flower bed. Their roots remain alive under the soil through the winter and sprout leafy, flowering plants in the spring. These should be the backbone of an easy-care garden. Generally, they're in bloom for a month or more, depending on the plant. Here are 10 of the most beautiful and easiest to grow full-sun perennials for Michigan gardens. Black-eyed Susans, aka gloriosa daisies, are a hardy type of Rudbeckia with daisy-like flowers consisting of gold petals and a dark center seed head. The scratchy, hairy foliage is not their best feature, but the vibrant flower heads more than make up for that. Plant size varies greatly, from dwarf 1-foot-tall cultivars such as 'Becky' and 'Toto' to the giant Rudbeckia maxima , which can reach 9 feet tall. Black-eyed Susans flower best in full sun, but they can also handle partial shade. Rudbeckia plants in general start blooming in midsummer and can repeat bloom into fall. Seed-started perennials can bloom the first year if you start them early enough. The sturdy yet delicate-looking Queen of the Prairie is a species of the flowering Rosaceae family that's native to shady habitats with moist, alkaline soil that's well drained. It grows 4 to 8 feet tall and has fragrant fluffy heads of tiny candy pink or peach flowers that bloom for about three weeks between early and midsummer. Variety is important when shopping for Dianthus, Dianthus gratianopolitanus because hardiness can differ. Most dianthus bloom for more than two months beginning in the spring, but many require deadheading to promote rebloom. Several varieties are also evergreen and make good edging plants.

Dianthus does well in any well-drained soil, particularly in slightly alkaline beds. They don't tend to live long and should be divided or seeded regularly. Blue fescue grass, or Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue,' is a clumping ornamental grass.

It is a true grass that grows to only a foot tall or shorter. It loves the well-drained soil and tolerates poor soils.

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