The Victoria Day long weekend is a major time for prairie gardeners. Distant enough from winter snowfall (we hope) and with lingering sunshine, many green thumbs will be out trenching and transplanting for the summer blooms. 

Seasoned gardeners know well the trials faced by their leafy charges in the early going, but for novice gardeners, Paul Kneeshaw, plant authority and owner of Misty Gardens greenhouse in Humboldt has some sage advice.

“Transplanting out from where you grew the plants, whether from a greenhouse or your own house, the plants think they’ve been living in the Garden of Eden. All of a sudden, they discover what the full rays of the sun are and what the wind is - what colder and warmer temperatures than they’re used to feel like. So you need to harden them off and give them some time out on the first day, and then more time out over four or five days to get them used to being outside.”

The plants should be brought in at night to avoid cold extremes, says Kneeshaw. This way your bedding plants will become acclimatized to their new outdoor environment.  

As we’ve seen over the last couple days, nighttime lows can hover around the freezing mark, so it’s good to plan for covering up those delicate plants if need be. 

Those outdoor conditions can change a plant's water needs, especially in the heat of a full sun. Providing water is a key consideration in the early going.

“”As long as water can get away, there shouldn’t be a lot of danger of overwatering,” Kneeshaw maintains. “Underwatering can be more of a danger because the hot sun can take a lot of that water through the leaves right away, so you have to keep an eye on them to make sure they have enough water to get through the whole day.”

When plants come from the greenhouse, they’ve been properly fed with liquid fertilizers to help them get established. Once they’re in their new beds or pots, it’s important to see they continue to have access to the proper nutrients. 

“They can be fine in the ground with a granular fertilizer or the natural fertility of the soil. But they need fertilizer of some kind, and you may find you get better yields if you do fertilize the ground they’re growing in.”

Of course one of the keys for any successful flower or veggie plot is to make sure that the plants are able to get the appropriate sun exposure.

“Most garden vegetables like full sun,” says Kneeshaw, “But some of the bedding plants and flowers may like to be in the shade, so it’s important to look at the conditions that plant will thrive in. Six hours is considered full sun by some of the experts, but the plants will tell you whether they’re happy or not by where you plant them.” 

Bedding plants will often come with label sticks that indicate their sun and moisture preferences. 

Happy planting this long weekend.