By Becker County 

Master Gardeners

Special to the Forum

Most flowering annuals are available as sturdy seedlings at garden center and nurseries, but many will grow just as well or even better when you seed them directly into the garden. Zinnias, cosmos, bachelor’s buttons, California poppies and marigolds are good examples of annuals that grow rapidly from seed. But if you want annuals for containers, buy well developed transplants that will look good the minute you pot them up. 

Acclimate (harden off) seedlings by moving them outside into a protected area two weeks before the last frost date in your area. Expose them to a little more sun every day.  Bring them indoors if a freeze is forecasted.

Early May is a good time to plant grass seed, but for good results you need to rough up the soil first. Unfortunately, this exposes crabgrass and other weed seeds that will sprout right along with your new grass. To stop most weed seeds, apply a specially formulated version of pre-emergence herbicide right after seeding. The label must state clearly that it’s meant for newly seeded lawns, otherwise it will kill desired grass seeds, too. 

Attract butterflies to your yard by planting many good nectar-producing flowers. Include coneflowers, Russian sage, Joe-Pye weed, butterfly weed (Asclepsias), beebalm, catmint, Mexican sunflower, and single semi-double zinnias. Though butterfly larvae (caterpillars) may feed on your plants, don’t use any insecticides in the garden. And don’t put out “butterfly houses” unless you enjoy them as garden art…butterflies will never inhabit them.

Becker County Master Gardeners are available to help answer your gardening questions at the Plant, Pest and Gardening Clinics every Monday (May-Sept.) and Friday (June.-Aug.) from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Extension Office (1120 8th St SE Detroit Lakes) or call 218-846-7328