Local Gardeners Spring Into Planting Season - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Local Gardeners Spring Into Planting Season

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After a long winter, many gardeners have been waiting for Mother's Day weekend, the unofficial start to gardening season in the Quad Cities Area, to shop for plants for their yards. Horticulturalists say May is the prime time to plant, with May 15 as the local frost-free date.

"We're shopping for plants, so we can have our garden," said eight-year-old Kaitlyn Stineman, who was out with her mother and grandmother Saturday.

Many shoppers say the plants also make good Mother's Day gifts.

"Well, it's Mother's Day weekend," shopper Lori Dryg said. "It's our tradition."

"We've just done it every year, so we just keep it going," said Molly Dryg, her daughter.

Some local garden centers are seeing hundreds more customers now than in winter months, with 25% of annual sales happening in May alone.

"It's our Indy 500, and our Super Bowl Sunday, and our Kentucky Derby all rolled up into one crazy weekend," said Kate Terrell, director of operations at Wallace's Garden Center. "Today, we'll average about four transactions per minute."

Terrell says it's also an ideal weekend for the plants themselves. By May 15, the ground is expected to be warm enough for the plants to survive throughout the day and night. Most plants for sale at Wallace's Garden center on Mother's Day weekend started growing in December.

"January and February, on up to now, when we're seeing our babies go out the door," Terrell said.

Despite the harsh winter, she says gardeners should be good to go, but plants might come out of the ground a bit slower this year.

"So just be a little bit more patient with some stuff," she said. "Don't give up on it yet."

For new gardeners, and/or those without the green thumb, Terrell says, start small.

"Most people start with growing one tomato plant, or a pot of geraniums," she said. "Get successful with that, and then bite off a little bit more."

There has been frost past May 15 in previous years, but she says that's rare. If it does happen, garden experts suggest bringing plants inside or covering them for the night.

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