Carol O'Meara, Colorado State University Extension

Carol O’Meara, Colorado State University Extension

LONGMONT – So, you went wild, shopping plant sales, garden centers and mail order. Those weeks of frenzy have left you happy but spent, seduced by tempting vegetables, hot colored flowers and very cool vines. All that’s left is to face the consequences of your overindulgence.

Those 35 bundles of joy sitting on your doorstep are waiting to be planted, and it’s up to you to get them off to a good start. If you bought them without a plan for planting – or consideration for the weather – you might need a little advice on giving them the care they need to ride out the wait before planting them outside.

If you’re like many people, you’ve brought home tomatoes, basil, peppers, zinnias, or other warm season plants that wooed you into losing sight of what our weather is like right now. If you don’t want to lose your little ones, make room in your house and your schedule to care for them.

If you don’t have a greenhouse or a solarium, pick a sunny location in your home, close to south or west facing windows. Your plants will need at least 10 hours of sunlight daily, more if possible, to stay healthy.

Seedlings need plenty of sunshine, but if you don’t have a sunny southern window to put them in, you’ll need lights. Put seedlings under a fluorescent shop light with one cool white and one warm white bulb. Lights should hang directly over the plants on cords or chains for easy raising or lowering. Hold lights 3 to 4 inches above the plants at all times.

When possible, move the plants outside to enjoy a bit of sunshine when temperatures are above 65 degrees and there isn’t gale-force wind. But start slowly when placing them in full sun; most plants will burn if they’re left out in full sun too long before becoming acclimated to it. Begin with an hour to hour and a half of full sun, and then gradually leave them there longer over the next week to ten days.

Don’t forget to check your plants daily for watering needs, and once temperatures have stabilized outside to what the plant can tolerate, you can plant them. Check with your local Extension office for the last average frost date in your area, and consult your plant tags to determine the best time for popping your plant into the garden.

The Loveland chapter of P.E.O., a philanthropic educational organization, provides scholarships and aid to help women continue their education. For 26 years, they’ve raised funds via a flower sale and this year its set to be a celebration in bloom. Hanging baskets, flowering pots, window boxes, and individual plants are available. All proceeds go towards educational scholarships for deserving women in the Loveland area.

The sale is by pre-order only. To receive a pre-order form, get in touch with a chapter member or contact Mary Ella Peterson at 970.667.6201 or e-mail her at maryella@qwestoffice.net. All pre-order forms must be received by April 28th.

Plants will be available for pick up on Tuesday May 8, just in time for Mother’s Day. The plant pickup will be held from 12 noon until 6 p.m. at the Faith Church at 2707 N. Wilson in Loveland.

By Carol O’Meara, Colorado State University Extension (CSU Extension). CSU Extension, together with Boulder County Parks and Open Space, provides unbiased, research-based information about consumer and family issues, horticulture, natural resources, agriculture and 4-H youth development. For more information contact Colorado State University Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Rd., Box B, Longmont, 303.678.6238, e-mail comeara@bouldercounty.org or visit ext.colostate.edu/boulder.