If you’re new to landscaping in Calgary, or if you’re trying your hand at indoor gardening for the first time, you may be wondering when it’s safe to move your plants from the safe, controlled conditions inside your home to the great outdoors. As a general rule of thumb, outdoor gardening doesn’t really start to gain traction in Calgary until after the May long weekend. Prior to that, the threat of frost continues to be strong enough that it’s generally wiser to protect young plants in the confines of your home.
Landscaping in Calgary: Acclimatizing Your Plants
You can’t just plop a plant that’s been growing indoors in an outdoor garden one day; instead, you need to gradually get it acclimatized to outdoor conditions. This reduces the amount of shock the plant will experience and increases its chances of making a successful transition.
It may surprise you to learn that sunlight is one of the most prominent factors that contributes to plant shock. The intensity of natural sunlight is far greater than that of artificial indoor light, and there are a few strategies you will need to know to make it easier for your plant to get used to sunlight. First, you can expose it to some sunshine coming in through your windows. Do this for an hour or two at a time, then put the plant back in its usual place. A similar technique, favoured by many gardening experts, is to take the plant outside for a few hours a day to get it used to outdoor air and light conditions. Confine it to a shady area initially, then move it into indirect and finally direct sunlight before returning it to the indoors.
Being outdoors requires plants to increase their consumption of both water and nutrients. Just as you have to get them used to natural light and outdoor air, you also have to acclimatize plants to boosted water and nutrient intake. Over a period of a few weeks, gradually increase the frequency with which you water your indoor plants and provide them with slightly elevated levels of fertilizer and nutrients.
Finally, when the weather is consistently warm enough to move your plants outdoors and they have been gradually exposed to natural light, outdoor air and greater amounts of water and nutrients, choose a spot where they will be shielded from wind. Exposure to high winds can be traumatic to a plant that has spent its life indoors.
Landscaping in Calgary: Keeping Plants Safe from Frost
If the mercury is forecasted to dip to unseasonably low levels, you’ll have to protect your plants from frost that can creep in overnight. The easiest and most effective way of doing this is to cover your plants with a sheet, thin blanket or specially designed protective material. This insulates the plants, traps vital heat and shields them from the cold weather conditions. You can also cover individual plants with buckets, pots and empty containers.
For frost to form, the ground must reach a near-freezing temperature. In reality, though, there is a risk of frost anytime the overnight low dips below about 5 degrees Celsius.
Is My Plant Healthy? If Not, How Do I Save It?
Recognizing signs that your plant is struggling or even dying is essential if you want to make a successful transition from the indoors to the outdoors. Here are the telltale signs of an unhealthy plant:
- Brown, withered leaves
- Brittle, dry flowers
- Loss of leaves or flowers
- Brittle stems
If you see these symptoms, check the roots of the plant. If they are either brittle or saturated with moisture, the plant is dead and cannot be saved. However, if the roots are firm and yielding, the plant is still alive. To nurse it back to health, trim away any dead stems you find, then move the plant to a spot in your garden where it will be exposed to about half as much light. Over a period of about three or four weeks, water the plant only when the soil is dry, but do not let the soil become completely devoid of moisture. With a little luck, the dead stems will grow back in and the plant will gradually recover its full health. At that point, you can move it back to an area with full sun exposure.
For further advice on landscaping in Calgary, or to take advantage of our full range of professional services, please contact us here at Mirage Landscaping. We help you raise the value and visual appeal of your home by providing you with spring and fall cleanup, yard and lawn maintenance, and complete landscaping services. Our team of dedicated professionals offers timely, affordable and courteous service you can depend on. We’ll happily provide you with a free, no-obligation price quote.