Chicago weather: When is the right time to start planting?

WILMETTE, Ill. (WLS) -- We've had a few weeks of wet and cold weather, and you might have held off on starting on your garden. So when is the right time to get your plants into the ground?

It's still a little too early to plant many sensitive flowers and vegetables, according to the experts at Chalet Nursery in north suburban Wilmette.

"People who are excited about tomatoes and peppers and basil and impatiens and begonias - the things that really need warm soil and no frost - If people are wanting to buy them, we're telling them if you do it, take them and store them because if you put them in the ground, you may have to protect them," said Tony Fulmer, of Chalet Nursery.

While the average day of our last frost is usually in mid-May, many areas can still see freezing temperatures. Since 1981, the latest freeze at Midway and Joliet was May 12, but not until May 25 at O'Hare, and even later for Glencoe, Lisle and Sugar Grove.

The cool, damp spring has actually been a mixed blessing.

"It's made many plants in bloom at the same time that you normally wouldn't see together in bloom," said Jennifer Brennan, of Chalet Nursery. "So it's extended our spring, but it's been frustrating for people who wanted to get their vegetable gardens in."

The record-shattering cold snap we saw last winter did cause damage to a lot of plants and shrubs. This is actually a good time of the season to do some pruning.

According to Fulmer and Brennan, you'll want to wait until at least next weekend, if not Memorial Day weekend, to plant sensitive plants like impatiens and vegetables.
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