As most experienced Maryland gardeners know, there’s a rule that advises when it’s OK to start planting flowers and vegetables: don't start planting until after Mother’s Day. Many people grew up hearing these words of advice from parents and grandparents who likely heard them from theirs. This important rule is a reminder that early spring isn’t the best time to start planting most things, but is it a hard-and-fast rule that everyone should follow?
When it comes to deciding when to plant flowers, vegetables, shrubs or anything else, what matters most is your particular area’s last frost date. That’s because - depending on the hardiness of the plant - gardening when temperatures still reach the 20's overnight could mean setting your garden up for failure. In many climate zones, Mother’s Day signifies late spring, or when night and morning frosts are almost (if not completely) over for the year, this includes the state of Maryland. The rule doesn’t take into account warmer states or hardier plants, both of which can have different planting rules. There’s some truth to the Mother’s Day rule, but it’s best to take it for what it is: a general guideline.
So how do you know if you can plant flowers and vegetables early? The best way to do this successfully is to find your area’s last frost date by doing a little research online. The National Climatic Center Website has frost information for all states, so it’s a good starting point.
You should then research the exact plants you wish to put in your garden. Determine when to plant each one based on the frost information you found. If you feel as though the research seems daunting, follow Grandma's advice and sit tight until after Mother's Day.
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