Mike Abernathy, general manager for Whiteford Greenhouse in Sylvania Township, holds a hanging basket of flowers inside Whiteford Greenhouse. Hanging baskets are a good April option for gardeners.
Eager beavers beware: Although the warm weather and overflow of gardening commercials may have you diving for the planting tools, area greenhouses say you should plant with caution.
“People do get confused with this warm weather,” said Eileen Creque, owner of Creque’s Greenhouse in Sylvania Township. “It really did affect everybody’s sense of timing. I’m always cautious in northwest Ohio [spring weather]. People should be planting things that are frost-tolerant in case one of these nights dips down to 35.”
Local greenhouses are stocking up on summer plants, such as impatiens, begonias, petunias, and vegetables like peppers and tomatoes, but they aren’t quite ready to be planted outside. The plants are still considered soft, or actively growing and accustomed to warmer temperatures. They need to be toughened up to outside weather before they can be successfully planted.
For gardeners ready to get going, however, area greenhouses recommend starting with snap dragons, hearty perennials, and pansies, among other tougher plants like bushes and shrubs and cold-crop vegetables like broccoli, peas, spinach, and herbs.
“Pansies are a great seller,” said Mike Abernathy, general manager for Whiteford Greenhouse. “But we have a lot of people coming in right now ready to buy things that just aren’t ready to go outside.”
Pansies sit outside at Whiteford Greenhouse, Sylvania Township. They are ideal plants for April, when the weather is fluctuating between warm and cold.
The deceiving warm weather is a bonus in some ways, Mrs. Creque said. Comparing this April to last year, Mrs. Creque is just happy for sunshine. April of 2011 was Toledo’s second-rainiest month on record.
“It doesn’t matter how much you advertise,” Mrs. Creque said. “No one wants to plant when it’s crappy out.”
Now that the weather has gardeners dying to get outside, greenhouses are working to direct people to plants that are April-appropriate. Julie Diegel, the live nursery specialist at Lowe’s on Central Avenue in Sylvania Township, said hanging baskets are another great option for people with the “spring itch.” The plants can be placed outside, but moved indoors if temperatures drop or the weather turns harsh.
Also, greenhouses agree as customers head out to purchase supplies, they can expect the same retail prices for plants as last year.
Mrs. Creque increased the price tag on her perennials by 2 percent this year, now charging $3.99 each, and also saw a slight increase on hydrangeas and knock-out roses due to increased freight and shipping charges, but has not changed prices on most of her stock.
Mr. Abernathy and Ms. Diegel said they have not noticed any price changes this season compared to last year. Ms. Diegel said prices on annuals may have dropped.
“The warm weather is great,” said Mrs. Creque. “The greenhouse looks so cheery and colorful. People are going to get excited when they see all that. I’m just cautioning them, you know, here’s what’s safe to plant right now.”