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The most frequently asked questions these days is “When is it safe to plant bedding plants? ” I can’t predict the weather but I can suggest a few annuals that will tolerate a couple of degrees of frost. They include pansies, snapdragons, calendula, petunias, and dianthus. Be prepared to cover plants if the temperatures dip below freezing. Covering with plastic gives you little frost protection; you are better off to use old sheets or Remay. Remay is a lightweight fabric that will give you about three degrees of frost protection. Putting a small sprinkler on overnight will give up to six degrees of protection.
WHAT TO PLANT IN DRY SHADE
Someone was asking why nothing except Hosta would grow in their west facing site. Hosta prefer a shady site but it is amazing how drought tolerant they are. Some other plants that will tolerate a dry site are: Cranesbill (hardy geranium) is an excellent ground cover. There are many varieties of flower colour and heights. They are so tough. They bloom in late spring to early summer. Once they are finished flowering cut them back again to the ground to reguvenate them for the summer. The fall colours are also attractive. Sedum, sempervivum, goutweed, and woodruff are all excellent drought tolerant perennial ground covers. Shrubs that will grow in a tough dry site include Amur maple, juniper and sumac. Remember that it takes a plant at least three growing seasons to establish a deep enough root system to maintain itself through periods of drought . A few deep waterings will drive the roots deeper than if you were to give the plant frequent shallow waterings. Mulching with 2-3” of bark mulch or leaf mould will also help retain the moisture.
It is easy to rejuvenate those old scraggly looking potentilla by pruning out the old, thick woody branches. Cut these back to the ground. Remove the old seed heads every spring by giving it a light shearing. Potentilla flowers on the new wood so by taking away the oldest branches every 2-3 years you will have better flower production.