Is it too soon to start your garden? Here's what people & experts say

Posted at 6:52 AM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-01 07:51:45-04

(WXYZ) — The gorgeous weather as we begin May is prompting many people in our communities to get a head start on their summer gardening.

The general rule of green-thumb is most prefer to wait until Mother's Day to start planting. However, is it OK to start now if it's this warm out?

I went out to talk to people who are starting their summer garden to see what they think.

"It’s been super nice, so I’m just planting all the things, maybe a little early," Sydney Gatward of Bloomfield Hills said.

Screenshot 2024-04-30 at 8.36.41 PM.png

A lot of us are! We met Gatward at English Gardens in Royal Oak as she and her daughter, Soaren, started shopping for their summer garden.

"I have some squash, some tomatoes," Gatward said.

However, we both learned something as we were chatting.

"I wanted to warn you, there are some things that are really cold sensitive," Jennifer Lau, the master gardener at English Gardens in Royal Oak, said.

Lau said for sensitive vegetables like tomatoes and basic, you should keep them inside until at least mid-May, or you could stunt their growth for the entire season by planting too early.

However, that isn't the rule of thumb for all vegetables and plants.

"Certain vegetables are a no, but most other things, worst case scenario, you plant them, and we’ll get a frost, you just want to cover them with something made out of cotton, so like an old sheet. Throw it down when you go to bed, pick it up in the morning and everything is fine," Lau said.

Screenshot 2024-04-30 at 8.36.12 PM.png

That's right, you actually should be pretty safe planting heartier flowers like geraniums right now. Just follow the cotton sheet rule if temps drop below freezing.

For Diane Quinn, the risk is not worth it.

"You never know, it’s Michigan, we could be wearing boots and gloves next week," Quinn said.

"Is it difficult when the weather is this nice to wait to plant?" I asked.

"It is, it really is, especially with all the stuff to buy and you have to shove it back on your porch," Quinn said.

Screenshot 2024-04-30 at 8.36.22 PM.png

She said to get the gardening itch out, she shops now, but plants after Mother's Day. It's a tip Lau highly recommends herself.

"You can find some really neat plants early, like funky petunias," Quinn said.

"Now is the best time to find plants, because there’s not the throngs of people doing it at the same time," Lau said.

According to Lau, most every flower can be safely planted now, just pay attention to what you're planting, the temperature fluctuations, and most importantly, enjoy the process.

"Just enjoy the fresh air and the birds, flowers make a huge difference," she said.

If you have a specific planting question, Lau said you can always call her at English Gardens ahead of time and ask before coming out.

Where Your Voice Matters

Contact our newsroom
Have a tip, story idea or comment on our coverage? Send us a message. Please be sure to include your direct contact information.