Everything! Well, not exactly.
Oklahomans, here’s the deal-i-o. Our last average frost date is April 20, but if you wait that long to plant, summer’s nasty heat may move in and clobber your plants. Personally, I wait until April 15 to plant most heat loving crops including beans, corn, tomato plants, peppers and eggplants outdoors. Mine are cooling their heels outside in the shade a few hours on the days over 50°F while they harden off. Watch your weather forecasts to decide when to plant based upon late freezes and such. I’m watching both News 9 and KFOR because I find they are more accurate in my area. If you started seeds indoors, set a timer to bring the little plants back inside as they harden off. That way, you won’t forget. Seedlings take work so you want them to survive.
As for flowers, I’ve already planted seeds for poppies, nigella (finally coming up due to Fairegarden’s advice about sowing it on top of the soil and only covering lightly with grit), Aquilegia (columbine) and delphiniums (larkspur). As the small plants get larger, I am weeding out some. I also transplanted the larkspur and Verbena bonariensis that self-sowed in the gravel. I did plant some of dahlias yesterday, and I added some sand to the soil where they will grow to enhance drainage. The dahlias grow in a protected area like the precious creatures they are. Dahlias aren’t fond of bad drainage or temperatures over 100°F.
Really, who is?
Indoors, I’ve sown a gajillion seeds this year. Okay, maybe not a gajillion, but at least a hundred-million, yes. I’ve got ornamental peppers, including ‘Black Pearl,’ and ‘Jigsaw’ for foliage color. Also, Ricinus ‘New Zealand Purple,’ Celosia ‘Cramers’ Amazon’ because I saw it on Nan’s Hayefield, and it reminds me of ‘Intenz’ I grew two years ago. Those bright purple plumes attract bumblebees. Celosia is easy to start indoors from seed. C. ‘Indiana Giant’ is a big red with darker leaves. There was a time I though celosias or cockscomb were too old fashioned. However, after seeing them star in a friend’s garden in late summer, I changed my mind. They’re wonderful as flowers and foliage. Amaranths–I’m growing several. Tricolor is one, and I’m also doing a red. Usually, I just throw amaranth seeds outside, but I wanted to be more particular about planting this year, and honestly, all those little outdoor seedlings get away from me in the midst of regular garden chores. I’m doing three colors of Gomphrena globosa ‘Carmine,’ a red and ‘QIS Purple.’ I want them to dance in the wind, and I’ve found you need a lot of gomphrenas for dancing. Buying bedding plants would be too dear for my budget. I have several flats of these, and they’re getting pretty big.
Flowers started indoors: Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’ ‘Irish Eyes’ and ‘Prairie Sun.’I have perennial black-eyed Susans, but I want more variety. It’s fun to try new and old favorites. Speaking of, I started Spilanthes‘Lemon Drops’ from seed. I’ve grown it before. One nursery in town carries it, but the owner is elderly. I’m afraid she won’t operate her nursery much longer. Zinnia ‘Whirligig’–is one I started. Normally, I don’t start zinnias indoors, but this one is special, and I wanted to lay out bedding plants of it. Two kinds of flowering tobacco, Nicotiana alata ‘Perfume Blue’ and N. langsdorffii, green with blue stamens. The latter isn’t a thrilling specimen in some ways, but will make a great spacer and grows very tall. Verbascum phoeniceum (mullein) are a group of flowers I’ve wanted to try for a long time. They came up and are strong growers in pots. We’ll soon see how they do outside. Because I love Carol Klein, I’m also growing Cerinthe major (honeywort or blue shrimp plant.) It grew strong in containers, but it may fail from our heat. Aster ‘Duchess Apricot’ is a unique seed I found. I have a few that sprouted. We shall see. Mirabilis jalapa Marvel of Peru ‘Salmon Sunset’ caught my eye too. Won’t that look good against a dark purple alternathera? Finally, I recently started Angelica sylvestris ‘Ebony.’ It’s slow, but is now emerging. I am a big fan of plants with lime green and/or dark foliage. This one, of course, is dark. Helenium ‘Helena Red Shades’ is another flower I’m trying to grow, along with purple heliotrope.
Because of my dear friend, Cindy from My Corner of Katy, I have ‘Laura Bush’ petunias. I grew the seed she gave me, and I will have plenty even if the nurseries don’t carry it. ‘Laura Bush’ is one of my all-time, hands-down favorite petunias next to Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum and Supertunia® Vista Silverberry. They are both splendid too.
Some seeds haven’t been as successful. Asarina pupusii ‘Victoria Falls’ only germinated a few, but I’ve heard it is tough and likes colder weather. I’m going to put it outside in small seed starting containers and see if it likes that better. Astrantia major ‘Purple Shades’ is another. Still trying to make it happy. ‘Jester’ millet is doing okay, but so slow growing it makes me want to pull my hair. I keep giving it lots of light and am hardening it off. Will let you know how it does. I may be buying millet plants if I can find them instead.
Herbs: Italian parsley, basil, dill, etc. I already have a large rosemary, thyme and sage outside in the potager.
Food: Tomatoes are a favorite in Oklahoma. ‘Marianna’s Peace’ was wonderful last year so I’m growing more of this large, indeterminate, pink fruit. ‘Homestead’ was another winner originally produced in the 1950s for southern gardens. It is semi-determinate. Growing it again. Trying some new tomatoes too like
‘Goldman’s Italian American’
‘Aussie,’ Indeterminate and from Australia.
‘Cherokee Purple’ a standard heirloom for Oklahoma.
‘San Marzano Tall’
‘Vintage Wine’ has a deep chocolate red color with a green stripe.
‘Thessalonkj’ is a Greek variety with dense foliage to protect the fruit from the sun.
I’m sure I’ll buy ‘Park’s Whopper Improved’ again from the store.
Peppers, there are so many, but I’m excited about sweet ‘Douce D’Espagne,’ ‘Bullnose’ and ‘Lipstick,’ among others. As for the hot peppers, I’ve started: ‘Cayenne Long Thin,’ ‘Grandpa’s Home,’ ‘Caloro,’ ‘Chile de Arbol’ and poblano.
There are also the eggplant trio: ‘Fengyuan Purple,’ ‘Rosa Bianca’ and ‘Jade Sweet.’ I love eggplant.
So, there you have it. These are my foliage, flower and veggie seeds started indoors. As I plant seeds outside, I’ll share the direct-sow gang. Don’t get too impatient. Wait a few more days before buying Bonnie Plants at the box store and sticking them in the ground. The Bonnie people are nice. They would tell you the same.