Think Cold-Tolerant Plants while Waiting for Spring


The sun is warm. The birds are singing. Color and blooms are everywhere—indoors. It’s easy to immerse yourself in the sights and scents of spring at the Galleria’s flower show, the Como Park Conservatory, Minneapolis Home and Garden Show, or even your neighborhood garden store.

Just don’t get carried away.

Most years, you could be putting out containers of favorite cold-tolerant annuals like pansies and violas by this time. But this spring, as the meteorologists repeat, ad nauseam, persistent cold fronts are hanging over us. With overnight temps in the teens, it remains too cold even for the toughest annuals. Let’s be optimistic: It can’t last indefinitely. Soon—very soon—those pansies will be a go.


First pansies of spring! #flowers #springflowers #pansies

A post shared by Carol Petersen (@ceejayev) on


Still, it’s wise to limit spring containers to cold-tolerant annuals—pansies, violas, Calendula, snapdragons, and Dianthus. Pansies and violas can even withstand a light frost—though they won’t look their best if temperatures dip below 34 degrees—as long as you purchase plants that have been acclimated to cool temperatures. Tonkadale Greenhouse, for example, purchases plants grown in cool hoop houses with the sides and front opened during the day. It continues to “harden off” cold-tolerant annuals by pushing plant carts outside during the cooler days of March and April—as long as the temperature is 35 degrees or above.

In the Twin Cities, hanging pots and moveable containers that can overnight inside are often best for early in the season. Our average last frost date is May 15, but it can be even later. No bets on this year.


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