Planting Annuals Early in May can be Risky in Vermont

Early May Flowers for Color

Flower beds can be planted early if you keep an eye on the weather – and stay ready to cover.

Now that Spring has really arrived and temperatures are reaching the 70’s, we are all getting that itch to see some budding greenery, grass and colorful flowers. Just realize that even though we’ve pulled out the t-shirts and shorts and put away the skis and heavy jackets, early May is still a bit risky for planting annuals that are susceptible to frost. As Spring clean-up kicks into high gear, we see many homeowners and businesses that are eager to get some flowers in the ground to create some long-awaited color around their properties. After all, it has been a long winter and we’ve seen nothing but white and grey for a long time. Some residents of Killington still have three foot mounds of snow in their yards while in lower-lying areas lawns are nice and green already. Early May planting is O.K. as long as you realize that up until Memorial Day Weekend, the risk of a random frost still exists in many parts of Vermont. Knowing this, you should be prepared to cover delicate new plantings at the first hint of frosty night weather. Just keep an eye on the weather so you don’t lose all your new flowers and have to start all over.

What varieties of flowers are best to plant early?

Some annuals are heartier than others and can withstand some frost, so choose carefully. Varieties such as Pansies, Calendula, Godetia, Lobelia and Violas are the best to get early color and not worry about covering when the temperature drops at night, so long as it is not a hard frost, also known as a killing frost  – below 25F. In any case, if you are planting early, just be prepared to cover the delicate varieties so you can enjoy the flowers of your labor. Happy planting!