Questions about "hardening off" recently purchased plants

Laurel, MD(Zone 7a)

Last week I purchased plants from Merrifields that had overwintered there. They were just beginning to show growth and I thought they were okay to leave outside. They still seem to be doing well despite the cold snap. However, I also purchased some Virginia Bluebells and Sweet William that apparently had only recently come from the greenhouse. I gave in to an urge to purchase some coneflowers in small boxes at Lowes that already had some leafing out as well. I do not have adequate light or room to keep all these things and thought about trying to make a cold frame from bales of straw. Has anyone here had experience doing this? Does anyone think if I made one that I could put these plants in it without causing them harm? I would really appreciate any suggestions. It's the same every year, I know it's too soon but the urge is so strong once the earth begins to awaken.
Happy Gardening! Shirley C

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

Glad you posted this. I bought a large Persian Lilac (3 gal.) in bud this w/e at my Walmart....didn't want to leave it outside "just in case" so it's now standing behind my couch in my south/east window. Of course now all the buds are opening...help!!! Should I be leaving it outside?

Chesapeake Beach, MD

Your perennials are fine outside right now. It would take a very hard freeze indeed at this point to do them any harm and that just isn't at all likely to happen. The only transitioning I would consider at all is for the pots that were in the green house. I would still put them outside, but I might start them off in the shade and then gradually transition them to the sun.

You shouldn't leave tender annuals outside yet, but outside is where the perennials, trees and shrubs belong.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

yes I agree...if we get a severe frost warning you can hose them off early in the ,morning...or cover them at night with a light sheet.

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

Any opinions on the "right" time to put this Lilac IN the ground?

Chesapeake Beach, MD

The sooner the better. Just be sure you water it and continue to water it as we're in a very dry spell at the moment.

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

Thanks Mary...don't know why I thought I'd have to baby a 3 gal lilac in my living room...the kids will be happy...they're feeling slightly over run by plants at the moment. LOL

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Learning from past mistakes, I do not try to "rush the season" no matter HOW tempted I am. I have worked in Garden Centers in big box stores and I can tell you it is ridiculous how early they get some annuals in! My HD alredy has fully blooming Snap Dragons and other cold-tolerant flowering plants (annuals!). It is silly!

Restraint is the virtue here! Let the retailers "eat" their losses, not me! You just have to live and learn in this area.

Gita

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

So agree w/you!!!

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

I was at Lowes yesterday and they had petunias (inside) but what on earth are they gong to do with them? Way too early.

Chesapeake Beach, MD

What frustrates me is that nurseries rush the annuals, but don't push the perennials and woody plants this time of year when, in fact, it's a great time to buy and plant them. The attitude seems to be that "we can't sell dormant trees and shrubs" and to heck with the fact that the earlier they are planted, the better.

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

Speaking of cold hardy (can't find the pic) my Panseys from fall are still blooming in containers...too funny!!

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Mary,

I think there is a lot of psychology at work this time of year ion all the Garden Centers. Everyone is sick and tired of the "Blahs" and the emptiness and the grayness of Winter. SO! All the growers try to hypnotize us with all these early blasts of color and so many people fall for it! They will also have to pay dearly for their hastiness. Live and learn!

In my store, we actually have all these combination mixed hanging fiber baskets already. They are filled with flowering plants and trailing plants, etc. With the weather we are having, pray tell WHERE is one to display them? They won't thrive indoors and you cannot put them outdoors--yet. DON"T waste your money and buy them!!!!!!!! WAIT!

One thing I noticed out in out Garden that is worth picking up, AND is flowering now, are big pots of Lenten Rose (Heleborus) in an assortment of colors. What a beautiful harbinger of Spring to have in your Garden! I think I saw them in 3 gallon pots for $9.99. Don't fret that there are hardly any leaves on them now--only the flowers on strong stems. The old leaves should all be cut off now. The new ones will come when the flowering ceases. They arer making more and more color hybrids of these nowadays. They last for years and are always a welcome sight in the garden. They love shade with rich, well drained soil.

Hang in there!!! The best is yet to come!!! Gita

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Yes..mine are in full bloom..

Thumbnail by levilyla
Laurel, MD(Zone 7a)

Gita, where did you see the Lenten Roses for 9.99? Were they the "new" colors?
I know what everyone said about putting the plants outside and I still have a problem with the coneflowers I got at Lowes. The coneflowers that are growing in my yard are just now beginning to show through the ground. The ones I got at Merrifields have leaves just breaking through the soil but the ones I got at Lowes from inside the store in those little boxes have leaves about six inches long already. Do you really think they would be okay if I put them outside now? Does anyone here have a suggestion? Should I try to harden them off during the day and bring them back in at night or just leave them in the window until it gets a bit warmer? They don't look too bad yet, but I am afraid they will get leggy if I leave them inside too long.
Thanks, Shirlely C

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

I would put them outside...they should be fine...if we get a severe frost warning cover them with a sheet at night or hose them off in the morning.

Laurel, MD(Zone 7a)

Thanks! Well, I sure hope yall are right. I just put them outside and said a prayer. Now, I have another question if anyone has some suggestions. I have been trying for several years to get a bed of Blood Root going and finally they are beginning to fill in the area. Does anyone have a suggestion as to what I could plant over them so that when they finish blooming and the leaves go away the area will not be bare all summer? Thanks.
Shirley C

This message was edited Mar 24, 2006 12:30 PM

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Shirley,

I saw the Lenten Roses at my HD. in East Baltimore County near WEhite marsh mall. All HD may have them, even though the garden Supervisors have the option to cancel shippments ahead of time if they don't want them.

I saw about 3 colors. White, pinkish, and a darker pink/deep rose kind of color. There was a deep pink with very,very slightly speckled look. That's it! I have seen some of the beautiful new colors in a magazine! Wish I had some of them.....

I have some seeds to the tall, perennial Hibiscus. Red and white. Got them about 3 years ago from Ddcat in NJ. It takes them 3 years to bloom. In case you have not caught pictures I posted on another Forum, here they are. These grow about 4-5 feet tall. Die back (as do the regular ones) and are late in emerging in the summer--maybe end of June. Mark the spot!

Gita

Re your Coneflower. You said they were in boxes. I would plantt hem up in a pot in soil and take them out when the weather is nice (like today). As long as we do not get near freezing, you can leave them outaide in a protected place, maybe against your house in morning sun. One thing I know, NO perennials like to be inside, no matter what the exposure. I think growers of perennials grow their plants outside and not in greenhouses. There is a HUGE perennial Nursery near me called Babicos (Babicows??).

Thumbnail by Gitagal
Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Here's the white one. It has a tinge of pink around the edges.

Thumbnail by Gitagal
Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Heres the both of them. I did not know I had 2 colors! She labeled allt he seeds as :red". I am happy!

The common Perennial Hibiscus will produce flowers the first year from seed.

Thumbnail by Gitagal
Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

I also still have double purple/white datura Metel (or double currant) seeds if anyone wants some for SASE. I have posted pics before!
In either case, send me a D-Mail.

Gita

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