drop of dew in a cactus flower

Can you see your future in the flower petals? If you know how to read them, you can. It’s not as arcane an art as reading tea leaves, but keeping an eye on neighborhood blooms can help you determine the best planting dates for your vegetables. After all, flowers are influenced by soil and air temperatures, length of the day and other factors you aren’t quite as sensitive to. Stay alert to the seasons’ natural rhythyms, and your veggies will thank you with a healthy harvest.

Early Spring: Crocus, Forsythia

Diminutive crocus can be hard to spot, but they’re often the first real signs of spring’s onset. Easier to see are forsythia’s bright yellow blossoms, which usually show up just as fruit trees begin to bud. These flowers are telling you it’s time to plant your cold-hardy crops!

Spring Onset: Daffodil, Pear

Pears burst into bloom a bit earlier than many other fruit trees, so watch for those early white blossoms. Tulips and daffodils will bloom almost as soon as the soil is warm enough to work. These signs don’t mean the end of frost — not even close — but they do mean you can plant the next round.

Try these exciting and unique spring green varieties too. And start your warm season veggies indoors:

Mid-Spring: Tulip

The key here is not to plant when the first tulip flowers, but to wait until the blooms are at their peak. Then plant your long-season veggies, including:

Late Spring: Apple, Lilac

When apple trees erupt in fragile white petals and lilacs release their scent on the world, spring is in full swing. It’s time to plant:

Summer Onset: Iris, Peony

Iris and Peony will bloom when all danger of frost has passed (hopefully). Now it’s safe to set everything out in the garden, so plant all your warm-season veggies. By now you might even be harvesting some of the early crops. Happy gardening!

  • Tomato
  • Pepper
  • Eggplant
  • Melons
  • Cucumber
  • Summer squash
  • Lima Bean

Want hard planting dates? Try this guide to Your Spring Vegetable Garden: When to Plant What.

image: Mike Keeling

Follow Jessica Reeder on Facebook and Twitter