Returning home from travel to my Cool Flowers garden is almost as good as reuniting with Stevie and Tuc. The bupleurum plants pictured are just one of many cool-season hardy annuals that are patiently sitting and waiting for their time to shine in my spring garden. Since they were planted at the optimal time for my farm this is pretty much what I expected.
I believe that timing is so underestimated in gardening, farming, and business. Timing is perhaps that “priceless” factor that cannot be overcome when not followed. For me, Cool Flowers has become the perfect example of how great or horribly bad things can go just based on the one simple step of timing.
These days with spring just around the corner I’m seeing the same questions in our email inboxes and all over social media: is it OK to plant cool-season hardy annuals weeks or even months later than recommended? The short answer is of course you can plant anytime you choose—but proceed forewarned.
The warning: it may not be worth the effort because of the puny performance of these cool-season lovers planted at the wrong time. This defeats the whole concept of my book Cool Flowers which is planting hardy annuals at the best time for your winter hardiness zone. Following the Cool Flowers practice grows plants that perform like gold medal winners with little intervention, improved disease and pests resistance, and with abundance and quality like no other planting time.
Perhaps the worst and unexpected part of planting at the wrong time: the discouragement and failure it heaps on your shoulders. I’ve heard from thousands saying things like “ I can’t grow those” , “they don’t grow where I am”, and the two most common “ I live in this south, our spring is too hot” or “ I live to far north to plant Cool Flowers”. Correct timing can change all of these experiences.
To all those that are sharing how they missed their window of planting Cool Flowers— that’s ok, move on. Paperclip the cool season seeds to the next season‘s calendar at the proper planting time and get down to the business at hand: those seeds that NOW is the right time to get started. For my farm in winter hardiness zone 7 with the last expected frost date of April 15, this means focusing on starting warm-season tender annual seeds.
The best step you can take towards being a successful gardener, farmer, and business owner is to ditch the thoughts on what you think you’ve missed and move on to what you should be doing now. Just my two cents…
Lisa Mason Ziegler is a cut-flower farmer, author, online course producer, and nationally recognized speaker on organic cut-flower farming and gardening.