Pushing the Envelope --Early Spring Varieties

November 11, 2003 - 11:57

Proven Winners

Early spring is a hard time for gardeners because the days
have gotten warmer and the inactivity of winter is pushing you to get something
planted out in the garden. The call to get planting before the threat of frost
has passed is hard to ignore. There are some plants that, if properly hardened
off, will take several frosts with little or no damage and are perfect for
early plantings. You should have these plants ready for early season sales to
capitalize on the gardener’s need to be planting something, anything at all.

Most gardeners are already aware that Pansies and
Snapdragons are pretty cold tolerant and can be planted early in the spring.
However, with the introductions from recent years, there are new plants that
would also be good for planting early in the spring. Ideas for early spring
flowers include 'Butterfly' and 'Vanilla Butterfly'
Argyranthemum. Osteospermum are also good early season plants. Symphony
Osteospermum which comes in colors ranging from bright yellow and orange to
soft peach and white are not only the most heat tolerant Osteospermum available
they are also quite tolerant to cool spring temperatures. If you are looking
for an Osteospermum with more "spring-like" colors try the new
Soprano™ series which has three varieties: 'Soprano™ Light
Purple', 'Soprano™ Purple', and 'Soprano™
White'. This series is compact and well branched making it perfect for
4-inch pot production.

Nemesia and Diascia both belong to the same family as the
common Snapdragon. Both of these plants, despite appearing to be quite delicate
with small, profuse flowers and dainty foliage, are tough and will take
inclement weather with ease. Colors are mostly in the pastel range from
lavender and pink through coral and apricot. Some varieties to look for include
'Blue Bird', 'Blue Lagoon', Safari™, and
Sunsatia™ Nemesia and Flying Colors™ Diascia.

Other plants that are good for early spring planting include
Dianthus (Carnation), Heuchera (Coral Bells), and Bracteantha (Strawflower).
Dianthus comes in many forms from the compact bedding types to tall cut flower
types. Heuchera are grown mostly for their fantastic foliage. Some newer
varieties to try include Amber Waves (amber-gold foliage), Amethyst Mist
(purple foliage overlaid with silver), and Green Spice (silver leaves with
purple veins). If you are looking for something with a brighter, more summery
color try Sundaze™ Strawflowers, which come in bright yellows, oranges,
and pinks

If consumers just can't wait for the threat of frost
to pass, using a few of these varieties will satisfy their craving to plant
while providing beauty that will last well into summer and beyond.

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