Hold off on the heat lovers

Carla Allen
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Imagine being wrapped in warmth, with a gentle, fine mist spritzing over your body several times a day. A liquid diet rich in nutrients is fed at the ideal time. Your only job is to grow and bloom under these blissful conditions.

Greenhouse grown annuals will be flooding the market over the next few weeks. Make sure you don’t put heat-loving plants, like basil and tomatoes, out too early.Carla Allen photos

But then one day you're loaded into a truck with thousands of others. You travel many miles, finally arriving at your destination, only to be carried outside and stacked onto shelves.  It's cold. There's a chilly wind sucking the moisture from your body and water is sparse.

Welcome to the world of transplants. Stores are stocking up on these seedlings now. While some, like pansies, can be rescued, brought home and planted without mishap in mid-May, it would be wise to hold off on buying the heat lovers unless you plan on providing them with the same conditions they had in the greenhouse.

Basil is one that pops immediately to mind. I've unknowingly tortured many a plant by exposing it to May conditions… until they finally succumbed. Basil prefers Mediterranean-style growing conditions.

We're talking heat sinks, wall-hugging, south-side locations with the sun pounding down. Not eight degrees Celsius with 30 kilometre winds from the North.

Vine crops like tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers are others that shouldn't be set out until the first week in June. If you plant impatiens in May, they may survive, but don't expect to see them making any great strides until the thermometer starts rising.

The pepper family is also one that prefers warm weather. Some of its members, like habanero, jalapeno and cayenne, reflect that heat in their production of capsaicin, a chemical that can produce a strong burning sensation in the mouth.

You can protect heat-loving plants with a cloche, spun-fibre row cover or hot cap by cutting the bottom of a 4-litre plastic milk jug. Hoop houses are another way of creating a micro-climate for your tenders.

Some plants, like cucumbers, absolutely refuse to germinate if the temperature is too low.

As mentioned above, violas and pansies are tough little characters that can withstand colder temperatures. Wave petunias are winners in the lower temperatures as well.

Remember, although the last frost date in your region may have passed, cold winds can lower the temperature dramatically and cause damage to

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Recent comments

    May 17, 2011 - 12:57

    A good reminder. I have definitely been guilty of jumping the gun when it comes to planting. It is SO hard to resist all those pretty little plants sitting on shelves at the garden centers and other retailers, luring us to forget that the last frost has not passed and that maybe it is too early to plant...until we've lovingly put those plants in the ground and have had them fail because it was still too cold at night. Ugh! When I moved to the country, I found a solution to my impetuous behavior! I buy online at GardenHarvestSupply. I can pick and choose, add and delete products as I want and none of my plants will be shipped to my home until it is time to plant them! How cool is that? Even Wave Petunias, which I absolutely love, will arrive carefully packaged, in 3" pots and ready to grow wherever you plant them, WHEN it's time! Check them out here: http://www.gardenharvestsupply.com/ProductCart/pc/Potted-Petunia-Plants-for-Sale-c165.htm I can guarantee you won't be disappointed. I LOVE this place!