How Early is Too Early to Plant?

Tree roots wrapped in burlap

Plant shrubs when the ground thaws

You’ve got your chosen list of native plants ready. Maybe you’ve already purchased seeds from a native plant nursery. All that’s left to do is get them in the ground.

But how early is too early to plant? Well, that depends on what you’re planting.

Native wildflowers and grasses
Wait until late spring (mid- to late-May) to be certain the last hard frost has passed before planting to prevent damage to their tender tissues.

Native trees and shrubs
At this time of year, trees and shrubs are still dormant and without leaves, so they aren’t bothered by cold temperatures and frosts. You can start planting trees and shrubs as soon has the ground has thawed enough to get your shovel into the ground (around mid-April). Before digging, remember to contact Ontario One Call to have underground utilities marked.

After planting, insulate your new plant’s roots and the surrounding soil by adding a 6-8 cm layer of mulch. Keep the mulch 6-8 cm away from the stem or trunk, forming a doughnut rather than piling it around the trunk.

Native seeds
Can’t wait until spring? You can get started now by starting some wildflower seeds indoors. Some seeds require special pre-treatment several days before starting. That means some seeds should start their pre-treatment now. For more information on starting native seeds indoors, visit Ontario Nature.

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