Sunny spring weather is forecast for Mother's Day.
That's the good news.
For gardeners and moms with a green thumb, the forecast includes some disappointment.
Continued below-normal-temperatures and a chilly Saturday night mean it's still too cold to plant most annual flowers and warm-season vegetables.
Traditionally, Mother's Day is seen as the start of spring planting for tomatoes, peppers, begonias, impatiens and other warm-season annuals.
Not this year. The soil remains too cold. Paul Read, horticulture professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said gardeners would be wise to wait another week or two before putting in warm-season plants.
“There's no harm in waiting until Memorial Day weekend (for tomatoes), if you simply want a good harvest of a significant amount,” he said. “It makes sense to wait, to be perfectly safe.”
Kathleen Cue, horticulturist with UNL Extension, said three successive days and nights with soil temperatures of at least 50 degrees are needed before people can put in tender plants such as tomatoes. Soil temperatures are slightly below 50 degrees in southeast Nebraska and southwest Iowa and noticeably behind in northeast Nebraska and northwest Iowa.
Jumping the season can lead to weeks of stunted growth, she said. The roots of a tomato plant will contract when soil is too cold. Before the foliage can thrive above ground, the roots must recover from the shock of cold weather, which can take weeks.
Air temperatures this weekend are another reason to wait — Saturday night's low in Omaha is forecast to be in the upper 30s — too cold for any tropical plant to be outdoors.
If you've planted your flower bed already, cover it with sheets or a blanket Saturday night. Put the cover over the plants late Saturday afternoon or early evening, then wait until the weather warms Sunday before lifting.
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