Butler County Times Gazette
Flowers tested by K-State for the prairie climate
Plant your annuals by soil temperature
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By Dr. Stevens
Dr. Stevens has been at Kansas State University for over 20 years researching flowers. He serves as the State Extension Specialist in Floriculture and is director of the Horticulture Research Center in Olathe, KS Robin R. Dremsa is a Research ...
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Prairie Star Flowers
Dr. Stevens has been at Kansas State University for over 20 years researching flowers. He serves as the State Extension Specialist in Floriculture and is director of the Horticulture Research Center in Olathe, KS Robin R. Dremsa is a Research Associate who manages the flower trials. She's been at the K-State Hort. Research & Extension Center since 2007.
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When to plant annual flowers is based on soil temperature and not the calendar. Some cultivars tolerate cool soil, while others require warm soil. This spring we have experienced such wide temperature fluctuations that it can be difficult to know what to do.

An easy way to tell soil temperature is simply to stick a thermometer about 4" in the ground.  You can take a measurement in the early morning and late afternoon to get a high and low for the day, then average them.  K-State also has a good weather data library that shows soil temperatures at weather stations throughout the state.

When the soil temp is around 65 degrees, Petunias, Begonias, Lobularia (Alyssum) and Snapdragons can go in the ground.  More sensitive crops like Vinca (Catharanthus), Celosia, Lantana, Melampodium, Zinnias, and Pentas need soil temperatures of 68-70 degrees.  These are the flowers that thrive in the heat of the summer and need those high temperatures.  Most everything else falls in between.

This is the year to have patience.  Wait until soil temperatures are up for a couple of days before rushing out to plant.  Our most heat tolerant plants tolerate the heat because they love and thrive in warm soils.  Cool damp soils will comprise their root systems and then when the real heat of the summer does finally arrive, they will have few roots to support the plants growth.

Happy planting

Picture
Lantana 'Landmark Sunrise Rose Improved'. Lantanas need high soil temperatures to thrive.

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