Voice of the Land
Timely Annual Planting for Colorado
If you are not from Colorado and don’t already know, May 15th or Mother’s Day (depending on whose mother you listen to) is the absolute day you must wait before planting annuals along the front range—or you may lose them to frost. But with 70º February temperatures bringing perennials from their slumber, it’s hard to wait to plant. And just as April starts off warmer than usual, we’re finishing the month with nearly freezing nightly temperatures and the possibility of snow over the weekend. So it can feel like summer and then just as easily snow. It’s tough being a Colorado gardener.
Yet we all want to get the most from our growing season. Having to wait for the late outdoor safe growing time of May 15th, Colorado gardeners use many methods to “get a jump on it” and to extend their growing season. Starting seeds indoors, winter sowing, water-walls, dome tunnels, cold frames and mini greenhouses are all efforts being made at managing our choppy growing season. Last year many vegetable gardens that were off to a great start got pounded to the ground with intense hailstorms, which now has gardeners looking for “emergency garden screening” trellises.
Turning to perennial ground covers, planting bulbs and winter sowing of seeds is the best way for early spring “action”. For the big showy annual plants and flowers that we love to spruce up our borders and entrances, there is only two ways to go; plant early and accept that you may have to replace—or wait.
As the world changes, so too must we adapt. We trust our perennials to bloom at just the right moment. The buttercups love the cool snowy blast in their face and always bloom before the last snow. The birds are back and chirping and the trees trust and follow suit. We cringe knowing many of our blooming trees will likely lose their fruit in early spring freezes, yet with confidence they bloom pink and bright on a cold Colorado morning.