What can go outside and when? We get this question a lot this time of year. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple as giving you a date—nighttime temperatures drive it, so staying on top of the daily weather forecast is crucial. Since Mother Nature is unpredictable, we stick to the following rules of thumb, knowing that it’s all about being flexible and keeping an eye on the forecast.

Annuals fall into a couple of basic planting temperatures:

  • Cold Tolerant (40 degrees or higher): This category includes Fuchsias, Petunias, Nemesia, Dianthus, Osteospermum Daisies, Sweet Alyssum, Snapdragons, and Dusty Miller. If you want summer color in early spring, these are great options.
  • Tropical (over 50 degrees): Everything else requires temperatures over 50 degrees (24/7) to be safely put outside. This includes tropicals, houseplants, citrus, and figs.

Mother Nature is always in control. Our smartphones make it a lot easier; simply look at any weather app and check the hourly tracking. If temperatures are forecast to drop below those listed above, cover your plants with some type of cloth … but never use plastic! Better yet, bring your plants inside at night (if possible).

Hint: watch what we do at Van Wilgen’s on our front patio. When it’s safe to put tropicals out for good, you will see them everywhere!