Tips for Western Montana spring planting offered up

Posted at 11:37 AM, Apr 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-09 13:37:57-04

MISSOULA – Our volatile spring-like conditions can raise questions about caring for your gardens and plants.

“Well, if anything’s outside already — or it’s been over the winter in your yard — you should be fine. Don’t even worry about it,” said Caras Nursery and Landscaping owner Bill Caras.

“We had plenty of frost leading up to this cold snap we’ve had plenty of frost and stuff leading up to this cold snap, so we’re pretty good these pansies as you can see they look super cold but actually they’ve been outside so their used to it their fine and their going to pop right back,” Caras added.

That’s good news for anyone who leaves their plants out to get used to the elements, but what about any plant that hasn’t been outside yet?

“If you get something fresh out of the greenhouse like this lettuce here, you might want to protect it on a night like when it gets down to 25 or so,” advised Caras. “But once it’s been out for a few nights it can actually take the cold too.”

Looks can also be deceiving as plants that bud might lose their flowers but will continue to grow once the weather becomes more hospitable.

“We’ve got some rose tree china or lowering almond here and that came in from Oregon and it’s already blooming and this cold it did not like, so its’ not looking so hot but the plant itself will be fine just the flowers have been frozen,” Caras said.

While some plants can acclimate to the cold weather, some planting should wait until the weather improves.

“Tomato, cucumber — anything like that — they won’t take the cold, so don’t plant your squash plants,” Caras said. “But go ahead and plant your lettuce and cauliflower and broccoli and that sort of thing.”

You can’t plant everything at this point but if you’re really looking to get out to your garden, there are some things you can do.

“What I would do this time of year though…is clean up the garden get it all ready for planting. But with soil temperatures cold, that’s going to be your limiting factor,” Caras said.

“Once soil temperatures warm up a little bit some of this stuff is ready to go in other things that won’t tolerate any frost — including most of your annuals like marigolds and geraniums and that sort of thing,” Caras continued.

“But you can plant flowers early like pansies you can plant vegetables early as long as there the leafy or root eating type,” he concluded.