Plant Away On Warm Season Plants!

This last week we got a reminder of why April seventh is the last average freeze date in central Oklahoma as some freezes occur after that date to make it the average.  Many areas across Oklahoma got three freezes last week but we have been above forty for night temperatures since Tuesday and the seven day forecast looks good to plant going forward.

We gardeners experience great anticipation as winter winds down and we are anxious to get our crops planted as spring arrives so we can get the maximum length of growing season and take advantage of as many spring showers as possible.  Hopefully we have seen our last freeze from the winter of 2017/2018 and we can safely encourage you to plant away for the 2018 growing season.  Folks get the most anxious about planting their tomatoes, peppers and eggplants as there is a special joy in having the first big, real home grown, juicy tomatoes in the neighborhood or to add to your homemade sandwich or hamburger.  You should be able to safely plant your tomatoes and other warm season vegetables in your flowerbeds, raised beds, container gardens or Root Control bags.  Most of the greenhouses and garden centers had their crops targeted to be ready a couple weeks ago and so their tomatoes may be taller than normal. For tomatoes you just dig a deeper hole and leave the top six to twelve inches above ground.  Peppers, eggplants and other most crops should only be planted at the same depth or soil line of the container they have been grown in.  Tomatoes and marigolds can be planted deep as they are stem rooters and will develop additional roots all up and down the planted stem.  Most other plants should be planted at the existing soil line.  It is fun to plant several varieties of tomatoes and peppers to add variety to your garden and your dinner plate.  Plant some large beefsteak sized tomatoes, some smaller cherry or pear tomatoes for quick snacking or salads.  Plant different color bell peppers, sweet banana shaped peppers or hot peppers from across the full scale of hot, depending on your taste.

We can now plant all kinds of tender warm season annuals except for the hottest blooded crops like sweet potatoes, okra, periwinkle and caladiums which will do best if you wait another couple of weeks for nighttime temperatures to be consistently above fifty degrees.  You can plant most everything else with reckless abandon as long as you are prepared to water when nature does not provide quenching rains.

You can select and plant hundreds of species and thousands of varieties of plants to liven up and beautify your home and property.  You can plant traditional bedding plants like geraniums, fibrous begonia, impatiens, penta, petunias, coleus, marigolds, zinnia, lantana and dianthus as well as dozens of lesser known annuals that will make a big color statement in your yard.

This is also a good time to plant perennials, shrubs and trees. This is a great planting time for most everything because daytime temperatures are often warm, but not hot and nighttime temperatures are cool, but not cold and give our plants a chance to relax and produce a significant spurt of spring growth.

This is a good time to feed your trees, shrubs, lawn and flowerbeds to help support this natural spring growth spurt.  A spring feeding and then watering as needed will help your plants avoid plant stress and will help develop a healthy root system so the plants are better able to handle stress and challenges later, like droughts or brutal summer heat.

Make time to visit your local greenhouse and garden centers and have fun exploring the many plant choices.  Then select some tried and proven plants and a few new plants to get planted so you can enjoy watching them grow in your yard this growing season.

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