Create and Protect Spring Color

Throughout much of Colorado April is the shoulder season for spring color.

At lower elevations and in protected areas, the early bulbs of spring are popping up to paint the first strokes of color across the landscape.  Some places are seeing crocus and hyacinths – and daffodils and tulips are soon to follow.

While April is warming, it can still be a time of heavy snow – and even a temperature dip into the deep freeze.  Planting most annuals is at least six weeks out, so how do we satisfy our craving for spring color when the weather is still working against us?

Plant some pansies! 
They are showing up now in the garden centers and because they are cool-hardy, they can be planted long before it’s warm enough for petunias.  

Here are a few tips

  • Pansies should be hardened off before planting them in the ground.  If they have been kept outdoors at the garden center, they are probably hardened off and ready to plant.  Confirm with garden center staff that the flowers are ready for planting.
  • Pansies that have not yet been hardened off need some protected outside time to get used to the outdoors.  They need to adjust to night-time temps more than they need sunshine.  Keep them outside on the patio in a protected area for about five nights before planting.  If there is a frost or hard freeze, bring them indoors.
  • Once planted, pansies are frost hardy – but will be seriously damaged by a hard freeze.  If temps dip below 28 degrees, protect the plants from freeze damage like you would annuals in the early fall.  Cover them with household items like sheets, blankets or towels – not plastic.

Protecting early-flowering bulbs
When the bulbs you planted last fall emerge as spring flowers, they’re doing what Mother Nature intended and they are generally up to the challenge of the weather.  Tulips can sustain light snows, for example.  But none of the petals on these early bloomers can survive a hard freeze.

  • If the overnight temperature falls below 28 degrees,  cover the early bloomers to protect the flowers.
  • If you cover flowers and snow falls on top of the covering, the weight could crush the plants.  To support the covering, place a few items taller than the flower stems to support the covering.  Use household items like 1-gallon planting pots or buckets.

Fall planting tip:  next fall when you select bulbs, look for later-blooming varieties of tulips and daffodils.  Some of these bulbs bloom up to 6 weeks later than the earlier ones and will bloom after 90% of the threatening weather has past. 

It’s like a gardener’s insurance policy so that if you should lose some early flowers, there will soon be more to follow.

To get your flower pots and beds filled with early spring color – contact our design experts at or 303-721-9003.

This entry was posted in Gardens, Residential, Designscapes News, Annuals & Perennials