As gardeners, we all eagerly await the arrival of spring and the chance to get our hands in the soil once again. But as we plan out our gardens and choose our plants, it's important to remember that not all plants are created equal when it comes to planting dates.
While the USDA average last frost date is a helpful guide for planting tender annual vegetable plants, it may not be the best indicator for planting perennial plants. Many perennials have adapted to deal with frost and cold temperatures, while most vegetables are quite tender and require warmer soil and air temperatures to thrive.
At Natchez Glen House, we take a different approach to planting dates for our perennials. We don't rely solely on the average last frost date, but instead consider the individual needs of each plant. Some plants, such as asters and sedums, can be planted quite early in the season, while others, such as salvias and echinaceas, are better planted later when soil temperatures have warmed up.
This approach is not unique to us - many of our gardening mentors, such as Beth Chatto, Christopher Lloyd, and Piet Oudolf, also stress the importance of understanding the individual needs of each plant in order to create a successful garden.
It's also worth noting that perennials are often more forgiving than vegetables when it comes to planting dates. If you plant a perennial a bit too early or too late, it will likely still survive and eventually thrive. Vegetables, on the other hand, can be much more finicky and require precise planting dates to avoid issues such as bolting or poor fruit production.
So, as you plan out your spring garden, keep in mind the difference between perennial and vegetable planting dates. Don't be afraid to experiment and try planting some perennials a bit earlier or later than usual - you might be surprised by how well they do. And most importantly, remember to have fun and enjoy the process of creating your own personal garden oasis.