When is the time to plant a new perennial garden?

by Brandy
(Beverly, NJ)

I am going to plant a new perennial garden, and I've pre-ordered some plants which will arrive a tad early (at least i think its early) and I can't adjust the delivery date. Since they are perennials, will they be tough and not mind a chilly night or two - or do i need to cover them up. Its bad timing, after I ordered the plants I was scheduled at work to be away during the last three weeks in april, only around on the weekends. I've got a watering system in place, but I want to do whatever i can to ensure these new plants make it.

Doug says that dormant perennials (ones that aren't growing) can be planted any time in the spring when you can dig in your soil. They won't mind the cold soil one little bit. It is only if they are growing from being inside that they will be damaged by cold weather. And the more they've been growing inside, the more tender they are and the more careful you have to be about getting them frozen. A light frost isn't going to damage them beyond repair (they'll come back if lightly frosted) but a heavy freeze may do some serious damage.

So. If the roots are dormant, just plant them if you can work in the garden.

If you only have to store them for a few days, put them in the frig-crisper or between the doors of your back door so they're against the heat of the inner door. That will protect them from several degrees of frost. (keep them in the plastic bag). The problem with keeping them wrapped in plastic of course is that they don't have too much protection from cold weather and they will start to rot from all the excessive moisture in the bags.

Bottom line -get them into the garden asap. Or grow them in pots (and have a friend water them while you're away). Of the two, I'd opt for garden even if they were a starting to grow a bit.

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