Spring is finally here, and the experts at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia at the University of Georgia share tips to think about before you start planting your garden.

Timing is key

The average last frost date for Athens is around April 15. Emily James, a curator and the plant records manager at the State Botanical Garden, recommends waiting to plant seeds or tender plants in the ground until after this date.

How much sun does your yard receive?

Monitoring your yard or patio for how much sun it receives can help with plant selection.

“Morning sun is less intense, and plants that prefer less light do better in the morning light,” James said.

Some common plants that prefer morning sun are daylilies, begonias, peonies, lobelia and caladiums.

Full-sun plants will need at least six hours of direct sunlight each day, while part-sun or part-shade plants should receive between three and six hours of direct sun each day. Plants needing shade should receive less than two hours of direct sunlight daily.

Test your soil

James recommends that you test your soil before purchasing plants to know if you’ll need to amend the soil for a favorite plant or to buy plants that will do well with the soil you have. UGA Extension has information about soil testing that can be found at https://t.uga.edu/8UR.

If you are looking to add to your garden, the State Botanical Garden is hosting its annual spring plant sale April 13-15 this year. Shoppers can buy beautiful plants, receive expert advice and support the garden.

Shoppers choose from a wide selection of plants at the spring plant sale in 2022.

Shoppers choose from a wide selection of plants at the spring plant sale in 2022.

Select the right plants for your space

Staff from the horticulture and conservation departments, along with Master Gardeners, will be at the plant sale to answer gardening questions and make recommendations for your specific needs.

“This is a great opportunity to talk to well-trained professionals,” James said. “Come to us with your questions and challenges, and we can make recommendations.”

The available plant list will be posted on the garden’s website, botgarden.uga.edu, before the sale. There will be a variety of vegetables, shrubs, fruits, perennials and annuals available for purchase, along with an emphasis on native plants.

Incorporate natives

Native plants are great for tolerating our climate, James said. It’s important to keep native plants well-watered throughout the first year, but once established they can survive with minimal supplemental watering during extreme dry spells.

All proceeds from the plant sale go back to the horticulture department to support staff and purchase plants that keep the garden looking beautiful year-round.

“The spring plant sale supports the garden’s vision to celebrate the best in Southern horticulture, natural heritage and culture through excellence in gardening displays and practices and stewardship of healthy, natural ecosystems,” said the director of the State Botanical Garden, Jenny Cruse-Sanders.

Thursday, April 13, is the preview sale for Friends of the Garden members only. Friends of the Garden members will receive a 10 percent discount and get to shop early. To become a member of Friends of the Garden, visit https://t.uga.edu/61s. Azaleas for sale at the spring plant sale in 2022.

For more information about this year’s plant sale, visit botgarden.uga.edu.

Writer: Laurel Clark, laurel.clark@uga.edu

Contact: Emily James, eejames@uga.edu