Though we have a few more weeks of confused weather (It’s warm, it’s cold, it’s icy, it’s muddy), spring really is just around the corner. Take time now to get ready for spring planting.
Know your zone
Northern Virginia planting zones are classified as either 6b or 7a, close enough in average minimum temperatures to be grouped together for most gardening considerations. Elevation, urban heat and proximity to water is responsible for the variation in zones often referred to as “micro-climates”. The farther north and west from DC will see gains in elevation and colder temps which keeps those areas firmly in the 6b classification. Those south and east of the city can mostly be classified as 7A. However, those who have lived here long enough, know our weather can be a bit dramatic and some harsh winters have been known to wipe out plants that are classified as 7A.
Guard against frost
Our area has a risk of frost usually until April 18th so any seedlings or tender plants that are already in the ground need your protection when overnight temps drop below 40 degrees. Use a frost cloth, newspapers, straw, burlap, old sheets or repurposed plastic soda bottles (cut them in half with sharp scissors) to cover plants. Be sure to remove covers by mid-morning, once temps warm up.
To plant or not to plant
Now is a great time to start seeds indoors … and to spend some time thinking about annuals and new perennials you want to add to your beds. It’s even a fantastic time to have Epling come out and help you design new landscaping plans ahead of spring. Actual planting though, needs to wait until the soil is warmer and the fresh material has started arriving.
Add the right color early
Some flowers can be planted even before the danger of frost has passed, and fortunately they add color right away, too. For our area, these early bloomers include perennials like:
- Bleeding Heart
- Virginia Bluebells
- Lungwort, also known as Pulmonaria
- Creeping Phlox
Look for well-established plants with strong, upright structure, and buds that are closed or nearly closed when shopping at local nurseries. Be careful about planting annuals early, even if you find them at local garden centers. The cold weather can stunt their growth and chilly soil can cause roots to rot. Pansies and Snapdragons can handle and prefer cooler (not frozen) temps if you just can’t wait for color!
Well established shrubs, flowering trees and plants protected by proper mulch, will soon emerge and transform your yard. For landscapes that looks great year-round, consult Epling’s expert services.