Spring Start : Stop : Start

Spring: Start, Stop, Start!

Spring in the UK has always been unpredictable and always will be. It’s warm, it’s cold, it’s in between. It’s difficult to know when to start certain activities and it can catch us all out.

Air temperatures can be warm during the day and fool us into thinking summer is here only to be followed by frosts at night. This is the case every spring.

Plus we can have those days in early spring where it thinks it’s winter with snow/sleet/hail showers on and off all day. 

The daily temperatures affect air & soil. Air temperatures fluctuate rapidly but soil temperatures respond slowly & only increase as the average daily temperatures improve.

Rain in spring can tend to keep soil temperatures low and cold wet soils can damage more tender plants even if the average night time temperatures are warm enough.

We all love a warm spring day and we all get foiled that summer is here and want to plant out tender bedding and vegetable plants. 

Our grandparents knew best:

Follow our grandparents advice : “Ne’re give a clout until May is out”.
Your body is a great guide!

A ‘clout’ stands for clothing apparently and that’s a great way to judge when tender plants can be planted. If you need a few layers to keep warm, such as coats, jumpers, scarves and even hats and gloves. IT’S TOO COLD TO PLANT TENDER PLANTS.

The end of May is the gardeners excepted time to plant tender garden plants, when it much less likely that we will experience LATE FROSTS that do so much damage.

The most common plant requests in cold sunny weather that shouldn’t be planted outside until the end of May

  • Tomato plants
  • Summer bedding : including Lobelia, Petunias, Geraniums & Begonias
  • Runner Beans

If you’r not sure – please ask.


You can garden and plant now with all the hardy spring plants available now. Primroses, potted bulbs & all the late winter / early spring shrubs can be planted now. Cheer yourself up with some early flowering shrubs.

You can sow some seeds if you have a warm place to start them off, but more important is a warm place to grow them on to bigger plants afterwards. 

What we mean here is a greenhouse or conservatory

If not hold back until as late as possible because late sown summer plants will race past early sown plants that get too cold, too wet, or too dark.

One last thought : you will see these tender plants being sold in many non-specialists shops when it’s too cold. Unless you have a heated greenhouse or conservatory don’t be tempted. Planting fresh plants at the correct time will ensure much greater success.

Plants for these cold spring weather include:

  • Pansies
  • Violas
  • Primulas
  • Senetti (such a good in between flowering plants)
  • Cabbages
  • Leeks
  • Peas (late April onwards)

All the wide range of hardy shrubs, hardy perennials, conifers, fruit & trees. 

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