We have had glorious 80 degree days here in Northern Virginia. Inspired by tropical like temperatures, I was thinking of moving my pineapple sage plant, a tender perennial, from the house to the front yard. For several months now it has lived in a pot near the window waiting for the cold months to pass. I was just thinking of putting it back into the ground when the weather folks announced a freeze warning – maybe even “conversational snow.”
This is when it pays to watch the weather and know your average last frost date. Although I typically use Mother’s Day as my average last frost date, there are several dates with which to work if you look at the tables published by the National Climatic Data Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The NCDC keeps statistics on weather across the country and uses averages based on 30 years of data. You can look up your state and pick the city closest to you. For my area, there is a 90 percent chance that the temperature will be 36 degrees on April 12, a 50 percent chance that it will be 36 degrees on April 27, and a 10 percent chance that it will be that cold on May 12. I won’t risk setting out warm weather plants on April 12, it is not worth it. I might risk a few plants on April 27 but only if I can protect them with old sheets or buckets or bring them back in for the night. I will risk the 10 percent so Mother’s Day is my target date for planting warm weather plants. For now, my pineapple sage plant will remain inside for a few more weeks.
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