Spring plants: What can survive Chicago's chilly spell?

March 28, 2013 10:10:05 AM PDT
Which types of plants and flowers should you plant in your yard now? Landscape Architect Susan Jacobson with the Morton Arboretum tells us which plants can make it through this chilly spring.


1) Plants to plant right now

  • The start of spring planting in Chicago is weather dependent (early last year and late this year)
  • Once the ground is unfrozen we can start planting trees and shrubs hardy to our area
  • Best to wait until mid-May to plant new perennials and annuals (Mother's Day rule)
  • Show sample shrubs & trees that will be for sale at our Arbor Day plant sale April 26-28

2) How to protect plants and buds from cold this year

  • Plants hardy to our area should be fine,
  • Some marginally hardy plants may not flower if we get really cold temperatures after the buds have started opening
  • Even early bulbs such a crocus and daffodils are fine with the cold temperatures
  • The foliage on the early blooming bulbs can take the cold temperatures
  • Keep any extra protection that you may have placed around marginally hardy plant material a bit longer this year
  • Show daffodils in pots

3) What we should be doing to prep our home gardens
  • Make sure your tools are clean and sharp and ready for use
  • Cut back perennials and grasses that you left up for winter interest
  • Prune shrubs that flower on new growth, Late Panicle Hydrangeas
  • Clean debris out of beds and place any needed soil amendments and new mulch
  • Show a pot of grasses that we can cut back


Arbor Day Plant Sale, open to the public Saturday, April 27 noon-5 p.m. and Sunday, April, 28, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Choose from more than 300 unique varieties of plants available for purchase, including old favorites and recently introduced hybrids-specifically selected to thrive in our climate and difficult to find at garden shops. Discover new-to-market trees, shrubs, and perennials that are recommended by our experts. Arboretum "Plant Geniuses" will be on hand to answer your gardening and landscape questions. Members have first access to this outstanding sale with a great value. Members please bring your membership card for admission. mortonarb.org


Landscape architect Susan Jacobson leads the landscape, planning and design efforts for The Morton Arboretum's award-winning grounds. Susan guides and coordinates the design development for the 1,700 acre Arboretum campus.

As a landscape architect, Susan is passionate about the use of native plant material and sustainable landscape design principles.

Prior to joining the Arboretum team, Susan was owner and sole proprietor of Bartells/Jacobson Design, a landscape architectural design firm specializing in public work, park and recreation design, master planning, and commercial landscape plans. Susan also served as park planner for the Arlington Heights Park District, overseeing the design, development and renovation of fifty-three park sites totaling over 550 acres.

Susan is a 30 year resident of Glen Ellyn, with husband Jake and three children.