Last of the Chill

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This should be it. The last of some quick short drops in temps in Connecticut during the evening. When I got up this morning around 5 am, it was 42 degrees. Now at 7 am, it is 48 degrees. Call me picky but tropical plants really don’t like below 50 degrees F.

So, what did I do? I took some Mandevilla plants into my house last night. As an “extra” precaution. The drop in temp didn’t last long (a couple hours) but I was being extra cautious because I’m planting these Mandevillas at a site tomorrow. The last thing I want is problems right before planting day.

I had some issues with Mandevilla last year and this has led me to being frustrated with them. Sure, “IF” they are healthy to start with AND the temperatures are well suited for them to grow well, all is good. Little to no problems. But “IF” they are having issues even before picking them up, it leads to problems (e.g., leaf drop, leaf yellowing, blooms with brown spots, or tips of the vines blackened). I’ve seen it all. And as you probably know, they are not cheap. They are a pricier plant, so we don’t want issues with them.

This frustration led me to do some researching and I am reading some thrip insect issues are occurring in Florida on many plants and Mandevilla was listed as being one of them. Thrips are a big PIA in the planting growing industry. Is this why the Mandevillas are showing up with problems? Not sure, but that problem is bigger than little old me can handle. It is a issue to the insect experts in the industry. So far, I don’t see thrips on my plants and that is good. You don’t want those pests in your growing environments.

So, I am very careful about which Mandevilla plants I buy when it comes to Mandevilla now. I inspect them carefully and if I see signs of issues, I stay away from those. I literally hand pick them. If I see an issue, I immediately say nope.

Mandevillas tend to show up at our local nurseries early in the season, but they are heat loving plants. The nurseries will usually keep them indoors in their greenhouses until it is warm enough outside. Or they should be in my opinion. Otherwise, they get exposed and can develop issues.

When I pick up Mandevillas before outdoor safe planting time, which I prefer actually not to do (pick up too early but sometimes you have to or they may run out), I keep them in the greenhouse if it is below 50 F degrees outdoors still and put them outside during the days when warm and sunny. Most of the time, I put them on my driveway where it heats up well and there is some protection by the garage wall during the day.

We have had beautiful weather the past two weeks (minus the late spring frost we got on 5/17-5/18). On those nights when it was either a frost or a quick low temp hit which does not frost but low temp (lower than 50 degress F) – I’ve had to carry them back inside. It is a PIA. Because the pots are heavy and they have long tall 5-6 foot poles in them. But it gives me a bit of a workout. LOL.

But is that worth it? Are planting vining Mandevilla plants worth all the trouble? Absolutely yes, when they thrive. Which my plantings have for several years. I feel like issues surfaced more with them the past couple of years and that is frustrating for little ol’ me. I’ve written about Mandevillas before, and how wonderful they are and what a beautiful show they put on. It is on my other website, here is the link:

Stunning photos of Mandevillas planted by Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT.

I’m hoping this morning’s quick chill was the last of it. My house had the company of some nice blooming Mandevilla last night which I will once again carry back outside today. Today will be a stunning day. Full of sunshine so that is good. Oh! Yesterday it wasn’t just the drop (a quick one) but it was windy too. I could feel that whip of cold air at times even when the sun was out.

As I’ve said repeatedly, Memorial Day is the safe time to start planting warm loving tropicals and warm-loving vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, etc.). And it is also safe for Basil. Basil does not like the cold. When I walked to my greenhouse this morning, I was still in my PJ’s and slippers (too lazy to put on my flipflops), and the ground was very cold and wet. That to me is a reminder, the ground is still very chilly. Containers are a big of a different story and warmer. But you get the idea. The ground is cold until it warms up well which should be happening now that we are past this cold crap, LOL.

We are scoring an amazing weekend of weather for Memorial Day – AMEN! Will be perfect to do my site plantings and get started on my home plantings. It has been so very tempting to cheat – remember in April? We had an 89 degree F day! WTF. That is nuts, right? What happened is everyone got antsy. One garden center told me people were asking for tomato plants in April – that is way too early for them to be planted but I think everyone got super anxious and I don’t blame them. I did too.

I only tempted fate by putting out my agaves and cacti. On the late frost we got, I covered them with sheets that night. Cacti, remember, can take a dip in cold – that happens in the dessert where they are from. But tender annuals, tomatoes, etc. – that would impact them, and it may not show up right away. What happens is they may look fine but they won’t grow if they were exposed to too cold of temps They will just sit there – stubborn as heck.

Well, rant over! It is go-time this weekend. I need a real good night of sleep tonight and then working tomorrow. I see it will be like a summer day! 70 degrees expected tomorrow. That is nice. No rain, no cold, just warm sunshine with the birds and tree frogs chirping. Finally.

Oh, and why did I carry these into the house? Cause my greenhouse is full and plus it was a shorter walk, LOL. My cat curled up under them and slept there last night. Guess she likes the Mande vibe.

Enjoy your weekend!

Cathy Testa
Plant Crazy Enthusiast (this blog) (misc plant services) (container services)

Cozy for the Nite
Inspecting the Blooms
Nice blooms on this one.

Frost Arrived in Connecticut Overnight in 2023 on…

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If you are on practically any Facebook gardening page, you saw the plethora of posts by people preparing for the pockets of freezing temperatures in areas of Connecticut and Massachusetts, as announced by the weather stations for the evening of May 17, 2023, and early morning of May 18, 2023.

Many nurseries also posted warnings to take in your hanging baskets, potted plants, and cover any plants you may have put into your gardens of the ground. They wrote titles such as, “Frost/Freeze” warnings. It was noted to occur in areas of New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It was important for plant lovers to heed their warnings and take “precautions” depending on where in the state you are located.

Because we have had spectacular weather for the past week or so, and Mother’s Day was just last weekend, many people got their plants started outside and patio pots were probably potted up and hanging baskets of annuals were hanging. Some of these items were probably easy to take in (such as the lightweight pots, and the hangers) while others may have been a real chore to move for some protection.

Even though I know the potential for frost and kept some of my plants in my greenhouse, I still had some out too which I was acclimating to the outdoor environments, and I even moved a few plants up to my deck but most of my pots have been empty because I wait till Memorial Day to plant my tomatoes, peppers, succulents, cacti, agaves, and Alocasias and Colocasia (elephant ears), etc. Anything tropical, cold sensitive, and any warm loving vegetables stay inside. I only take them out to harden off (acclimate) on good days this time of year and wait it out till Memorial Day to plant permanently in their intended locations – but it was rough to wait!

Light sheets were used to cover up the plants I did move out to the deck that I felt would be okay, like some Yucca plants I have in pots. But a lot of the smaller items I had out got moved in. My petunias, a few of the Mandevillas I was acclimating on my driveway, the Alocasias in two pots still small enough to lift, the Mangaves, and some Agaves. Anything with succulent like tender foliage (like the Mangaves, they have foliage similar to Aloe if you crack them open, they have gel inside).

So, we got our exercise last night. I did not cover up my amazing tree Peony as shown below in the photos. Plants which have been growing in my landscape for years, like my gorgeous yellow-blooming Peony, I didn’t bother to cover up. I checked them this morning and they looked okay.

Frost on the windshield of your car or truck is a good indication that yup, it got cold enough to get “frosty” on windshields, but just how long did the drop in temps last? It may have been quick, only an hour or so just above or just below freezing. At 4:30 am, it was reading 35 degrees F on my weather app. So, bear in mind, it was quick and not a drop you would get in winter that would surely completely kill your plants.

While this type of frost may not outright kill some of the plants you risked leaving outside, it will stress them. I didn’t want to subject the Mandevillas I am holding for a client to this quick frosty episode because then the plants’ leaves drop off, the plant gets a bit stressed, and they are temperamental to start with so even those have 5 ft poles in them, I took 3 into my house. The rest of my Mandevilla are still cozy in my greenhouse.

After years of stressing out about plants, I kind of know which are more susceptible and need to be babied in these situations and which are possibly okay risking. As I have noted in my recent posts, I always use May 12th as an estimated last frost date. This year, frost came a bit later (May 17-18, 2023) and I have already marked this on my calendar so that when I get my 2024 calendar to hang on my office wall, I will have already noted that it arrived on May 17-18. Even with me noting May 12th, that is safe because I don’t permanently put the plants out – I am usually hardening them off – by putting them out during the day to get acclimated and taking them in at night if I felt it dropped below 50 degrees.

I do believe that we are safe now – except for tonight – they said this occurrence of a quick drop in temps may fall again tonight, May 18th, for some areas of the state. Massachusetts was colder than CT last night, and my uncle, who has an amazing garden in New Hampshire, posted snow falling yesterday! When I see his posts, I know it is true that frost will hit us. And it did.

I tend to make a note here on my blog to serve as my reminder.

What I took in:

Sky Petunias – which are in tiny pots (they smell so strong; I took them in last cause I’m actually sensitive to the scent).
My Mangaves – because a) not frost tolerant and b) tender succulent foliage is more likely to get damaged.
Mandevilllas – They tend to get stressed, and I don’t like that cause it sets them up for leaf problems. They don’t care for below 50.
Agaves – Those prob would have been fine, but what the heck, if they weren’t too heavy, I took some smaller ones inside.
Alocasias – That were overwintered in the greenhouse, were outside to acclimate for a few days already, and were not too big yet and still in medium pots. They have tender foliage too. If the foliage were to get damaged from the frost, it would probably regrow from the tubers below the soil, but I just figured, take those two in.
Cacti and smaller Succulents – I had some on the deck in small terracotta pots, what the heck I took those into my bedroom, so it would be easy to put them back outside. Cacti can take cold drop, but the succulents cannot.
Houseplant Hanger – I overwintered a houseplant in the greenhouse and had that hanging outside for a few days now, in it came.

I probably will leave most of the smaller pots in today and tonight. I’m taking the Mandevillas out for the day and back in tonight and then finally this routine will be done! Friday night will be plant celebration time! Along with happy hour!

Remember, note the 2023 Frost Dates for reference and reminders next year. And enjoy the rest of your spring and summer planting season. I hope next week’s weather will be as pleasant cause I have lots of plant work to do.


Cathy T.
Container Crazy CT Blog
Zone 6b
Broad Brook, CT

Screen shot at 4:30 am on 5/18/2023
My gorgeous tree Peony blooms before the frost episode!
After the frost episode – a little stressed but the flower petals didn’t drop off – yet!
Frosty on the vehicles this am!
Two Alocasias that were in my greenhouse and outside for a few days – Took these in last night – Pots not too heavy.
Mandevilla and Dipladenia I have in the greenhouse
Yuccas I had put outside for a few days, then had moved to the deck – I covered these up with a light bed sheet last night.
Agaves with thick skin may have been okay – like this one but I took a few in, and others are still in my greenhouse.

Possible Pockets of Frost in CT and Mass 2023

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That is what two televisions station weathermen said last night (5/9/23), that we may get “possible pockets of frost in some areas” of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

If you look at my prior posts and some from past posts about when to expect our last spring frost date, I always use May 12th. The possible frost in some areas of CT (and MA) was announced for last night.

I am not going to count my chickens before they hatch, but this could mean we are fairly safe to put out warm season annuals, at least during the day, like Petunias.

Tomatoes and peppers wait till Memorial Day still for me – but it is a great time to harden off plants outdoors that you have started indoors from seed to acclimate them to the sun and temperatures gradually – remember shade first for those baby seedling starter plants and gradually into the sun every day for a few hours, back inside at night. If you put them directly into sun, the leaves will get sun scald/burn, and you will see white patches on the leaves the next day. And avoid windy days as you harden off plants.

As for the tropical plants, I still wait on some, like I won’t put out my Mandevillas yet, but other plants are going out! Yippee. Oh, and I don’t put out basil yet either – they like warmth like tomatoes or peppers do.

Last night, I used a bed sheet to cover up some Yucca plants which have been in pots in my greenhouse all winter. They are hardy but they were inside all winter, so with every plant I take out of the greenhouse, I introduce them to shade for a couple days first or dappled sun, then move them into full sun if they are sun lovers.

All the deck furniture is out – the patio umbrellas are out; the cushions are out! Just waiting to glam up all with my plants!

Hope you are enjoying this fantastic weather this week. (P.S. I saw a couple hummingbirds this week, so I put out the feeders too.)

Cathy Testa
Broad Brook, CT
Zone 6b
Container Gardener
Date of this post: 5/10/23; Wednesday
Potential Frost Pockets: 5/9/23, Tuesday evening

Light Bed Sheets are perfect for a little protection when the weatherman announced a potential light frost in springtime overnight.

Is it okay to buy annuals now and plant them now?


This was a question posed by a person on a Facebook group page of CT gardeners today (5/5/2023). Great question, and it also included the statement of, “There are annuals being sold everywhere right now.”

Yes, the garden centers and nurseries are packed right now. Not unusual, I think, especially with Mother’s Day around the corner (next weekend). However, as tempted as we are to plant now, some plants (such as annuals) should probably wait until we are beyond chances of a spring frost and when the soil temperatures are warmer.

What is confusing is that our climate is constantly changing. We have global warming experiences and fluxes of crazy warm temperatures sometimes during the spring season. All of this leads us to wanting to plant now.

What is a person to do? Wait? Plant and risk it? Get plants and wait. All of these choices are applicable.

Comments and Responses to the Question:

I loved the commenters’ responses to the question posed above. I had to share them and my thoughts on each! Here they are:

“I look at the ten-day forecast in the middle of May. If it looks good, I plant. I get too anxious.”

  • That is good advice actually. I’ve always told folks watch the weatherman/women talk about the weather in mid-May. They usually give a heads-up if a frost is about to occur but usually that is only a one-to-two-day warning or less. However, you may use your weather apps or watch weather forecasters on television to get an idea of the next 10 days. As noted in my prior posts, I always use May 12th as my estimated last spring frost date in Connecticut (Zone 6b) area. So, start watching the weather next Friday.

“May’s full flower moon, and fully leafed out maple trees are always a good indicator for when it’s safe to plant annuals, tropicals and most herbs. I’ll start Sunday.”

  • Interesting on this commenter’s comment of the fully leafed maple trees! We use the maple trees to determine when to take the pool cover off our pool – after our maple tree is fully leafed out and because they drop samaras (winged seeds) first, and those make a mess. I never use the “moon” to gauge my planting time, but people do – and that was interesting advice.

“I always wait until after Mother’s Day and full moon. Last year was so cold but I planted my tomatoes around May 20th and I had a bumper crop.”

  • May 20th is probably somewhat safe; only about 9 days before Memorial Day timing (which I use as safe planting for tropicals, tomatoes, succulents, cacti, and annuals). But be sure to also tack on the ‘ten-day forecast in middle of May advice’ along with that timing by watching the forecasts, and you may use this as your gauge if you are okay with risking it and your internal mind is sure all is okay. (Again, I use Memorial Day as the safest planting date.) It is possible your yard or garden has a unique micro-climate situation based on how it is situated too. I know this is confusing, but some people get anxious and go for it.

“I buy now to get the best selection and then store on an enclosed porch until planting time in mid to late May.”

  • Also, excellent advice. If you have a place like an enclosed heated porch, heated greenhouse, and an attached garage that doesn’t get too cold at night, picking up plants to get the best selection now and waiting to put them outdoors is a choice. Just bear in mind, environmental stress is not good for plants and can impact their growth somewhat. I would use caution for plants that really need warm temps, but many people probably do what this commenter noted, pick up and store until safe. Or you may put some plants out on warm above 65-degree F sunny days and put them back inside the home (like hanging baskets for example) during the evenings until it is ultra safe outdoors around Memorial Day in May.

“Experience tells me to wait…some years I planted annuals before Memorial Day and spent the entire summer trying to backfill those that rotted.”

  • Note she said she planted annuals (in the ground). Remember, the ground is still very cold. Dig a little hole and feel the soil right now. Warm loving plants like warm soils (think tomatoes). So, while the air temperature and sunshine may feel right, the ground is cold and sometimes very damp from April showers. This led to rot on some of her annuals as she noted.

“From someone that has lost many plants due to frost in May, I’d be patient a little longer.”

  • I always note the frost incidents on my calendar, and I swear, I just don’t recall a frost in May of last year (2022), but IT DOES HAPPEN usually – thus, why I personally use Memorial Day as the safe planting time for annuals, tropicals, tomatoes, succulents, cacti. You may be safe putting out containers and patio pot during the day right now, because those are easily movable, or putting out hanging baskets, then if a frost comes thru one night in mid-May bring them inside that night so they don’t get killed by frost, but planting in the cold ground is riskier for warm season and non-hardy plants. They will suffer and not perform well and may die or rot.

“This is the magic questions. Usually, I wait till Memorial Day for annuals, tropical plants, succulents, warm loving tomatoes, and peppers. Frost usually occurs in mid-May but global warming seems to be changing that. It’s a tough call. Depends how safe you want to be.”

  • This comment above was my response to the question. I know, I know, it is super frustrating to wait. I have to wait for some of my client site plantings because I certainly don’t want to do all that work and have it fail. I so wish I could start right now! But at home, I tend to mix up the rules a bit. I have a Yucca in a pot – I moved it outside and it is fine. I actually moved it out because I found tiny ants in it – I also moved out one of my Alocasias in a pot because it was struggling anyhow (so, willing to risk it struggling and see how it does). But anything really healthy that needs warm temps, I’m waiting on. Next week, we have a mid-40’s at night range to anywhere from 62-70-75-degree days! Today’s temperature range (per my weather app) is from 42 degrees F to 62 degrees F and supposed to be mostly cloudy. Combine all the factors and make the decision which is best for you. Everyone is different. I know my Dad always said he waits till Memorial Day to plant his garden and today is his birthday, so it is a reminder, he is a wise old (sorry Dad, LOL) gardener. He has decades of experience!

The second part of this person’s question was: “Should I wait a week or two to be sure the threat of frost is gone?”

If you want to be super safe, and not risk the plant’s health and growth, then I say, yes. But this is the crux of it all, I believe, in my opinion, global warming is changing things. Years ago, Canna Lily plants would not survive in the ground, now they are – as an example. We have been having crazy weather experiences all over the country. What I mean is the golden “Dad” rule of waiting is best and has been for years, but things are changing with our climate and weather.

And don’t forget that Mother Nature creates unusual freakish weather scenarios sometimes. One year, after I planted on Memorial Day, we had the worst windstorm, torrential constant cold rain and the temperatures dropped super low over that weekend from a freak storm. I was devastated. I did lots of work and was worried about the damage and how the plants would or could recover! That is just an example. No matter what we do, we can’t fool Mother Nature.

Have a good weekend!

Cathy Testa
Plant Enthusiast and Plant Blogger
Container Gardening Obsessed
Broad Brook, CT 06016

Date of this post: May 5, 2023 (Friday)

Is it okay to buy annuals now and plant them now? Great question, See people's responses and my comments on that subject! Enjoy!
Variegated Yuccas – Were in the Greenhouse all winter, the one on the right had tiny ants in the soil I discovered – I put it outside and left it there since last week. It is doing okay. Need to repot it. Those tiny ants found their way to the pot’s soil – what a PIA they can be. Easily remedied though, repotting it will fix that. Note Yuccas are technically hardy, but these have been in my greenhouse all winter. So, they are okay moved outside early if need be (due to the ants!).
White Mandevilla I got recently, as noted by the person who said they pick up now and keep indoors – that is what I’m doing with a few of these healthy Mandevillas I acquired recently. I won’t put this outdoors till Memorial Day. Environmental stress is not good for these, they tend to suffer when left out in the cold! They are tropical. They have been in hot environments and shipped here, so think about that – you have been sunning in warm cozy temps and then someone puts you outdoors without a jacket – That’s shocking to the system! These are sensitive to cold snaps – keep them inside until Memorial Day.
Pansies I put out in early April – they are doing great! They are my color filler around my house until it is safe to plant the warm loving plants in my life outdoors later in May. In the meantime, stick with pansies or perennials which bloom in the springtime (and of course the daffs and tulips give us spring color) – those are options to serve as eye candy as well until we can enjoy the other heat loving flowering plants which we want to put outdoors.

Headliner Sky Petunias Caught My Attention Last Summer

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Last summer, I noticed some beautiful Headliner (TM) Sky petunias at a client’s home when watering her plants. I had seen them in grower trade magazines and didn’t think much of them at that time, but her use of them in her pots and window boxes got me a bit more interested and excited about these galaxies of spotted white patterns on the sky petunia’s blooms. I remember thinking to myself as I watered her plants, “Wow, she has some of those sky petunias I read about…I wonder where she got them from?”

Headliner (TM) Sky Petunia – Purple Color

If you haven’t seen them before, they have speckled white patterns, spots or splashes of white areas reminiscent of a galaxy of stars or perhaps, a Star Wars themed look! A purple one caught my attention yesterday when browsing a nursery because my sister-in-law’s favorite color is purple. I know it is too early to put petunias outdoors right now in early May because they prefer warmer temperatures and are not frost tolerant, but since this nursery had some small sized pots of these, I grabbed 8 of them. Two of the purple, and then grabbed 2 reds, 2 pinks, and 2 off pinks.

Headliner (TM) Strawberry Sky Petunia

I kind of felt I was taking a chance because I know I will have to maintain them indoors for a few weeks, but these plants looked very healthy with no signs of problems. I know petunias can be prone to issues from aphids or rot at stem bases, so I considered those plant care aspects, but I want to try some out this summer. I will watch them carefully for the next two to three weeks, water appropriately, and all that jazz until I plant them into a combination, hanger, or perhaps a dish garden.

So, this morning, I decided to read up on them via some google searches. Imagine my surprise, when I discovered the plant breeder/inventor is an Italian Plant Breeder, and a woman! I mean, I just got back from Rome, Italy. Life is funny like that sometimes! Seriously, a flower captures my attention enough to start researching it – and she is Italian! Bravo!

Plant Inventor – Antonello Capo

I believe this is she above in this Italian magazine I found on google this morning. Must be as she is holding those petunias. Ah, if only I was a scientist!! LOL! The article is written in Italian, and I didn’t learn enough Italian to read this but pretty cool to find this now as I was just in Italy two weeks ago. I’m also impressed by the list of patents she has at this website:

I located a list of her plant patents on the website listed in the above URL. Yes, plants have patents which means plant propagation is prohibited, and enforced by plant growers. When you look at plant labels, check out the patent number on the bottom of the plant tag. I’m sure propagating these on a large scale without obtaining the approriate approval is a no no in the bz, so that just FYI stuff.

Headliner (TM) Pink Sky

I typically avoid petunias in my container gardens because they need cleaning a bit meaning removing dead blooms, they tire out late summer into fall (and I like long bloomers into the Autumn season), and I guess they are somewhat traditional, but these sky series are a bit more intriguing to me. And the tag indicates they bloom into autumn, so that will be remained to be seen as I use these new ones. I’ll be sure to take photos all season. Also, petunias are prone to insects in certain environments, so I tend to stay away from them. I prefer the smaller ones as noted below.

In researching them further, day and night temperatures will either increase or decrease the splashes of white patterns on the blooms. This website called ZME Science, noted below, explains this scenario pretty well:,careful%20selection%20by%20Italian%20plant%20breeder%20Antonella%20Capo.

The white pattern of these flowers isn’t constant — it only emerges when there’s a big temperature difference between day and night during the summer. Basically, you need hot days above 24°C (75°F) and colder nights of around 17°C (63°F). When it’s hot during both the day and the night, the coloring becomes almost solid purple, and when the opposite happens, it moves towards white.

By ZME Science
Photo of them in a hanging basket at the nursery (photo taken on 5/3/2023 by C Testa)

I noticed the blooms have a delicate scent and I’m sure hummingbirds will notice these. My idea is to monitor how they grow, note how the color changes, and be mindful of the fact these need to be watched for insects before I plant them out into larger containers.

They are sun lovers blooming from spring to autumn per the plant tag. They like medium moisture and reach a height of 10-16 inches. Full sun means 6 or more hours a day. I will not put them outside till around Memorial Day or put them out on warm days until I feel it is safe from cold night temperatures. It is best to wait for consistent mid 50-60’s at night for warm loving annuals and/or tropical plants. Petunias are annuals here in our CT gardening plant zones.

In the past, I primarily prefer Calibrachoa and smaller petunias in my dish gardens or patio pots. I’ve paired them up with succulents many times. Here are a few photos of those. The add bloom power to the arrangements, but take note, often times the flowering petunia plants overtook the planters by the end of summer and covered the succulents.

Dish Garden by Cathy Testa
Dish Garden by Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT
Agave with regular pink petunias (few years back) by C. Testa
Headliner (TM) Pink Sky – Petunia – Mix with Other Sun Lovers

As for a combination, hmmm, I really will be using my eye power to figure out the best combo’s with these. I think because of their unusual patterns, it may be somewhat tricky to decide. I find when I put plants next to each other and let my eyes do the talking is the best method. You could leave them solo in a hanger as well. If I find some combinations I really find striking with theses, I’ll be sure to post photos here later this year.

Have you tried these already? What are your thoughts and experiences?!

Thank you for visiting.

Cathy Testa
Plant Enthusiast
Container Gardeners
Located in Broad Brook, CT
See also: (you are here, my blog)

See a couple Italy photos below!

Cathy Testa with Hubby, Top of Spanish Steps in Rome 2023!
Cathy Testa – In Rome!

What if I lost my vision?


As we age, things with our bodies change and some things are out of our control. I recently found out I have an eye condition which could potentially lead to loss of vision in the center of one eye. Today I go see a specialist. I really dread this appointment because I envision a needle coming my way. But then I tell myself, stop obsessing and all will be fine.

But this had led me to think about what if I did lose my vision. What if I couldn’t see my plants, all the amazing flower colors, and the beauty of what plants bring to my eyes, and my heart?

Being a “what-iffer” is not a good thing and maybe my eye issue won’t be severe and allow me to be free of vision problems for several more years. I won’t know till after today’s assessment, or perhaps for a few years, who knows.

My Mom lost partial vision in one of her eyes many years ago too. I remember going to the doctor’s appointment with her and the process they explained for a surgery at that time involved lying face down for several weeks at home after the surgery for the recovery process. It was an insane scenario to me. I remember thinking how anyone can lay face down for that long? She didn’t do the surgery back then.

She managed a very long time with partial vision in her eye, but today, as she is more in her elder years, she cannot drive due to her vision issues. She used to crochet a lot but said she cannot do that anymore, and that she can’t even read the newspaper now.

I often browse my plant photos and it really brings me a feeling of good vibes. I love colors, I love looking at the colors of flowers. Even simple Pansies are amazing when you really look at the flowers, and think, how on earth could God, Nature, whomever is responsible for these colorful wonders do such an amazing job. It is such a gift to us. Truly. Just look at these purple Pansies in the photo below. The outer edges are a lighter purple than the centers. The color is two toned! Nature does that!

If you think about the colors of the world, so many come from plants, flowers, fruits, and of course, the sea, ocean, sky, etc. Colors paint our world. Can you imagine a world without flower colors? I cannot. I am always amazed at the beauty of gardens and plants. And color patterns of birds and more.

Recently, I started playing around with needle felting and I really enjoy it. I started to think, what if I couldn’t do this if I was vision impaired. What would I do to replace this creative therapy.

Could I envision plants and their amazing colors in my mind. I guess if someone said, oh this photo of your planter with x-y-z has this and that, I think I could envision it. I could see it in my mind, hopefully.

Again, I’m not in the gloom and doom phase – don’t get me wrong, just it got me thinking about it. Certain scents can bring you back to a moment in time. I remember the scent of sugar canes in Hawaii. I will never forget that – and if I smelled it right now, it would zoom me back to that moment.

Our senses are all part of the equation.

In a jewelry class I took this winter, a woman moaned a bit and the instructor asked if she was, okay? She replied that her darn arthritis was bothering her hands. I guessed she was probably the same age as me. I thought to myself, we all have our struggles as we age. For me it is my eyes, for her it is her hands. I have heard how painful arthritis can be.

I suppose you just have to adjust and deal. Heck, my hearing is already having issues. I joke with my husband that there should be a special form of sign language for people who start to lose hearing in their later years. He said, there is, it is called sign language. I always told him; we will learn and use sign language if we ever lose our hearing.

Anyhow, until any of those days come, I will try to “focus” (no pun intended) on enjoying colors even more than I already have. I will enjoy listening to the tree frogs, birds, crickets even more than I already have, and try not to think about those what-ifs!

To see photos of some beautiful flower colors, visit my SmugMug Gallery of Flowers.

What if I lost my vision? Could I recall all the flower colors in my mind?

Photos above:

Blue and White pinwheel morning glories. Grown from seed one year. Absolutely stunning and fun.

Yellow blooms with red speck of Canna Lily. Love growing Canna Lilies and using them as big tropical thrillers in my container gardens every year.

Deep red Canna Lily blooms with purple flowering annual behind it. I think the purple is annual salvias. I love how this spontaneous photo I took came out. Truly – does it not bring joy to your eyes, and then your heart? It does for me!

Almost all photos on my blog are photos I took with my iPhone. Yes, it’s an obsession!

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT
Broad Brook, CT
Zone 6b

First Time Growing Pumpkins from Seed

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When I was a kid, my dad lined up 5 jumbo sized pumpkins he grew himself on our driveway in front of our garage. Me and my siblings gathered around to pick our choice and stand behind them while my dad (or maybe it was my mom) took a photo. It is one of my favorite photos from my childhood when it comes to pumpkins and a vivid memory.

Last year, I tried growing some pumpkins of my own on a very small scale compared to my dad. He grew his pumpkins in a one-acre garden also filled with tomato plants and other vegetables. As children, we never lacked fresh vegetables. They were always abundant in the summertime. I can imagine for my dad it was not only a hobby but a necessity with five kids to feed plus one other sibling who came a little later than the rest of us!

Anyhow, I decided to try growing some pumpkins in a large pot at home and put some of the seedlings in a friend’s plot at a community garden. It was neat to compare how each growing scenario did. The one in the large patio pot grew just fine, but it did not produce as many pumpkins as the one grown in the ground at the community garden.

The type of pumpkin seed I chose is called Long Island Cheese Pumpkin (Curcurbita moschata) because of its shape. It looks like a small Cinderella pumpkin or a cheese wheel. It is edible as well, but I wanted to grow them to use for my succulent topped pumpkin centerpieces I make in the autumn season.

You may direct sow the seeds of this pumpkin into your garden or start them under protections up to 3 weeks before frost. I did neither of those. I sowed them indoors, in my greenhouse about three weeks before frost. Then transplanted them in my big patio pot near the end of May. The pumpkin fruits were ready a little too early for my needs (as noted I used to create autumn centerpieces) so I made a mental note to start them later this year in 2023.

Pumpkin seeds germinate easily (usually within five to seven days), and the seedlings will grow quickly. Also, the seeds are larger, thus pumpkin seeds are a great choice to sow with kids. Their smaller hands are able to handle the seeds easily, the sprouts will pop up quicky, which is great for kids. They will feel the reward of sowing seeds within days. Bear in mind however, the little plant will grow fast, and you will need to transplant it before it gets unruly. Also, because the seed is larger (than say tomato or pepper seeds), you may direct sow the seeds into a small starter pot (versus into a seedling cell tray). Small nursery pots or even a terracotta pot or something the size of a soup can is a good size pot for kids too. See my photos below of the seedlings I started in small black nursery pots (probably about the 3-4″ diameter size pot) and I put only one seed per pot.

Pumpkin plants may be grown in large pots (about the size of a half-barrel), but just be sure to give the vines plenty of space to sprawl. I placed my pumpkin pot by a fence which runs along my driveway, and I guided the vines onto the fence as it grew longer. It was growing along beautifully, and pumpkins started to appear after the flowers, but the leaves developed the problematic powdery mildew later in the summer on the leaves. Powdery mildew looks just like powder on the leaves but be aware there is a natural patten to the leaves along the leaf veins of this pumpkin which may confuse you. The powdery mildew usually grows on the whole leaf or in big patches, whereas the natural pattern on the leaves is along the veins. See the photos after this post to see what I mean about the patterns.

The plants in my friend’s community garden did not experience any major pest or disease problems, other than the pumpkins had blemishes on one side because one side stayed rested on the ground. Those grown in my large pot were hanging from the vines on the fence due to my trellising them, so they did not have blemishes on the rind. And the pumpkins did not need extra support as they hung from the vines on my potted pumpkin plant. They seemed to hang there just fine.

This type of pumpkin is technically a squash, and it may be cured and stored all winter, but I did not cure or store them because I was using them for my centerpieces. But I did put them outdoors on a table for a while which is part of the curing process because I was waiting to decorate them. They did not rot which is great. These cheese pumpkins have hard rinds which were of benefit to me for my uses because of how I use them to create with succulents and floral design items. And the shape is a desired shape I like to create with the plants, so they are just perfect for my needs in that regard.

The seed packet indicates they are ready in 98 days (approximately 3 months), thus this season, I will actually count backwards from this timing to make sure I have them at the right time for my centerpiece purposes. I started them a bit too early last year in 2022. I will wait to start the seeds a few weeks later than last year and will have to work out my timing on my calendar. It is also important to note that pumpkin seeds do not “require” being started indoors early as is done with tomato seeds. They may be direct sown into your garden, but I prefer to enjoy starting seeds indoors, so I do so.

When you plan to plant the started seedling plants outdoors, be sure to wait a little while after spring frost has passed. Because squash and pumpkins are warm-season plants, they are frost tender and while frost may not kill them, they will be damaged by shock if exposed to frost. And again, because these pumpkins grow very quickly, there is no rush, they will move fast and keep you moving as you witness their vines grow for miles (well, not literally miles, but they grow long for sure).

If planted in a patio pot (make sure it is a large pot with drainage holes), be sure to locate it where the vines won’t be in the way. If in the garden, be sure to keep rain or collected moisture away from the plants (i.e., should plant on a slope) and or perhaps check them to rotate the pumpkins so the rind won’t be damaged from laying on the ground as they develop and grow larger. Also, full sun sites are best for pumpkins, as is for most warm-season vegetables.

In regard to transplanting the pumpkin seedlings into a large container or patio pot, I used good quality potting soil and mixed in slow-release fertilizer. I also situated the pot where I knew it would be out of the way, easy to water with my garden hose, and along a fence so I could lift the vines up and trellis them. I used twine to guide the vines, but the plant also produces tendrils which naturally clung around the wrought iron fence areas. I probably added compost to the soil as well. With very little attention, the plant grew well and quickly. I would see bees visiting the flowers often and took many photos of them in the mornings. The large yellow flowers are pretty too.

Squash or pumpkin seeds generally last 4 years if stored appropriately (cool, dark, dry locations). I have packets from last season, so they are good still (i.e., viable) and I plan to test out the growing process of these Long Island Cheese Pumpkins again this season. Things I will change are a) timing of starting seeds; sow later this year by a week or two so the fruit is not ready too early for my needs, b) grow more of them in large pots; do 2-3 pots this year along my fence, c) grow some pumpkin seedlings for my friend’s community garden if they would like some again, and c) cure them since I plan to have more this year.

Thanks for visiting and Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Date of Post: March 17th, 2023

Author of Post: Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT

Photos Below:

Natural pattern on the leaf veins in this photo above
Note: One seed per pot shown above. See the seed leaves before the true leaves appear.
Note the pumpkin on the top right has some blemishes and a bit of what looks like rot forming (from the community garden).
Me at my Friend’s Community Garden, the pumpkin plants are in there!
Succulent Topped Pumpkin Creation by Cathy Testa (photo above).

Last Spring Frost Date 2023

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Every year, I use the date of May 12th as my estimated last spring frost date. My tomato plants and hot pepper plants cannot be planted outside before this estimated frost date. If I planted my new starter plants outside before the estimated frost date, I’d risk losing them. Frost will kill them. In addition to this timing, usually the soil is not warm enough outside either; so, there is a period of time to acclimate your plants outdoors before you actually plant them in the ground.

There are many resources on the web where you can search for what the spring frost date is in your area. Some of the sites provide the ability to just enter your zip code to see where it falls. For example, try this site provided by When I enter my zip code, a date of April 27 is produced as my last spring frost date.

April 27th is too early for me. Based on years of growing tomato and hot pepper plants from seed, I feel this date is far too risky. May 12th is a safer date, and this is the date I use to count backwards on my calendar to determine when to sow my seeds. See my prior posts on that. So I use that last spring frost date to count backyards for sowing seeds, but also my estimate as to when I might be able to put my starter plants grown from seed outdoors to acclimate them after the frost has definitely passed.

In addition to frost, tomato and hot pepper plants like warmth. While the last spring frost may have passed, the ground is still cold and not completely warmed up outside. So, planting the starter tomato plants waits a bit longer – till end of May (Memorial Day). Following this timing has worked out for me over the years.

What typically happens is we may get a early warm up. It will feel fantastic outdoors and your soul and body will feel as though it is time to plant. But I caution you to be aware, things always change quickly. I am always amazed at how fast Mother Nature changes her mind.

Not only does Mother Nature change her moods, but she also has the amazing ability to provide a new twist on the weather and climate. For example, I think this past winter has been a mostly a windy winter with no snow! We’ve had no snow until one day this week in March. Before that, there were days that felt like spring! My husband is amazed he has not plowed the driveway once this entire winter of 2023.

Last year, it was a drought year during the summer months of 2022. That was not helpful to my container gardens during the summer when my tomatoes and other plants were outdoors growing fully. Anyhow, my point is, only Mother Nature truly knows when the last spring frost date will be, and I swear, last year, I don’t recall experiencing a hard frost in the spring. I usually write it down on my wall calendar when it actually occurs to track information. Climate change, Mother Nature’s closest cousin, throws in his own blend of ideas on how to mess with our planning and tracking. You get the idea. Climate change has been changing some of our past gardening routines and timing.

The key thing is if you get anxious, to remember to watch your local weather stations during late April to early May, and they usually will give you a heads-up if a hard or light spring frost is coming. And if you decided to tempt fate and put your plants out into a garden before frost and a later frost happens, you could protect your seedlings perhaps by using an appropriate method to cover the plants. This may be okay for plants not so affected by frost and cold, but I find tomatoes really should be put out when we are sure it is warm enough outdoors and after the estimated frost date. Exposing them to frost situations will only cause your plant to start off wrong. Frost will kill the plants that need warmth the most, like tomatoes and pepper plants, as well as any tender non-hardy plants.

Between May 12th, which again is my personal estimated spring frost date, to the end of May, this is the time period where I harden off my tomato starter plants outdoors. It gives you a couple weeks to expose them to the outdoor elements gradually. The starter plants are put outdoors on a table to be exposed to the outdoor elements each day and taken back in. If you decide you want to start moving them into their permanent container gardens, patio pots, and anything other than a garden in the ground, I suppose you could move the pot into your garage if a frost arrives, but I don’t recommend planting them outdoors earlier than Memorial Day (end of May). It just gets the plants cold and stressed.

With all of this said, I’m referring to my location in Broad Brook, CT which is Zone 6b. You may live in a part of Connecticut that is warmer, or perhaps you have some unique setup or micro-climate. When you look at sites providing frost date information, they explain in detail the calculated risks of frost dates and all the factors around these estimates.

I know when I first tried to determine my last spring frost date information, it drove me crazy. There were so many variations, it is truly frustrating. If you are new to gardening, ask your nursery person or neighbor who’s a gardener what date they may use as their estimated guide for their last spring frost date. I’m sure you will get various responses on that. But always be aware, plants have different needs. Not all vegetable plants are equal. Some vegetables may be exposed to cooler temperatures, so if you ask, be sure to ask for the type of plant you want to transplant into your gardens or container gardens and patio pots.

As I have noted, hardening off is required for indoor grown seedling plants. They must be moved outdoors to get them acclimated. You must protect them from harsh sun, gusty winds, and cool temperatures. Usually, you start by putting them in a shady location and move them more each day for a few hours to sun.

This is my date list of how it goes for me:

May 12th – My Estimated Spring Frost Date; Watch the tv news around this timeframe, see if they announce it then or before.

May 15 – May 26 – Harden off the Starter Plants outdoors for a few hours every day.

May 22 week – People pick up starter plants from me and harden them off at home (or they secretly plant them early because they feel it is safe for them! LOL).

May 29 – Start planting all outdoors in pots and in the ground and enjoy watching them grow till they produce fruit in the summer! May 29th is the date for 2023 Memorial Day.

Have a good day,

Cathy Testa
Broad Brook, CT
Container Crazy CT

Red Banana Plant, Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’

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Today I am sharing a photo I had taken by a professional photographer of my large and beautiful red banana plant in 2013. I have stored this plant every winter and regrow it in a very large cement walled raised bed in my backyard. The bed faces east and is situated on the backside of my pool and lower deck. The top of the plant becomes visible from the upper levels of my deck when it reaches about twelve to fifteen feet tall.

However, last year was the last season I grew this particular one because it rotted in my over-wintering storage bin for the very first time in 10 years. I’m not sure why it didn’t survive. Maybe it just got tired of the routine of being “put away” and its thick heavy large trunk was unable to tolerate the overwintering process after so many years.

I have written about my storage process many times on this blog website. I will share the links below for your reference. It is a massive tropical beauty with long wide red leaves. While it is hardy in zones 9-10, it is not hardy here in Connecticut, thus it will not survive frosts and our winters. It must be taken down in October to store and regrow in the springtime.

Mine has never produced bananas, which would be inedible if it did. It never had the opportunity to produce flowers due to being cut down each autumn season, but I have read this plant does produce inedible fruit in the wild on older plants. Most people grow them here for the show they put on. The plant grow super tall, has leaves with red coloring, and the mid-rib area is also a deep burgundy red with a slight yellow green on the sides. The mid-ribs on the leaves are very thick and a feature I admire as well as the plants overall height, red coloring, and dramatic tropical look.

I cannot recall if the first one I purchased was from a grower by the name of Sunny Border in Kensington, Connecticut, but I believe it may have been there, and I returned there years ago to get more to sell during my container gardening workshops. They referred to their tropical plants as “temperennials” which included other beautiful tropical plants I admire because they put on a show such as Brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpets), Colocasia (Taro or Elephant Ear), Cordyline (Palm Lily), Cynara cardunculus (Cardoon), Phormium (New Zealand Flax), and and Musa (Banana). There are many flowering tropical plants as well to be had, but I tend to favor large showy leaves in my container gardens as the main thriller plant in combinations.

When I see larger plants at local nurseries here and there of this plant, they are pricy. But it is worth the investment if you know how to overwinter them. Consider mine which lasted ten years, it was purchased as a small starter plant in a 5″ square nursery pot years ago. Hopefully, I will be able to locate some more of that starter size going forward because I will miss this plant in my planter this season of 2023.

The planter where I always placed mine in the center, as seen in the photo below, is rather large. It has 6-foot-tall walls and is about 15 or more feet across. I’d have to go measure it to be exact, but at the moment, I’m too lazy and it is cold outside! But it is large. It has an open bottom floor to the natural ground below. It contains a mix of soil mix from fresh, to some used soil potting mix of other larger pots when I would toss it away and mix it in, and it has compost, but overall, the soil just evolved into a nice, rich, fertile soil. Due to its east location, it tends to stay on the moist side as well. The cement planter is more like a garden size, and I just love it because it is easy to work in. I do not have to bend down to the ground and may easily reach in to plant various plants around the Ensete red banana plant in the center. When I work in the soil of this big cement planter, I see worm castings and it is a sign they like the soil there as well. The planter is somewhat hidden from sight, and I have walked friends and family over to see it, and they are always surprised at its massive size. One would wonder why I put the cement planter there, and the reason is because my eyes and mind told me – put a planter there. I had envisioned a stone floor in front of it creating a path, but I still have not ventured into creating the path. I also envisioned putting a nice material on the front walls to make it more artistic but alas, I still have not done that process either. Maybe someday.

The huge leaves reaching five to six feet long move around in the wind and have a shiny look to them. When the sunlight hits the leaves, it creates a glowing look and I find this feature very enjoyable as well. These plants also grow very fast in one season. Every year, I’d take the trunk out which would be stored for the winter in a bin with peat. In springtime, I put the trunk base into a temporary starter type large patio pot and place it in my greenhouse to get started. Then around late May, it would be planted outdoors in my large cement planter. To water the plant and its counterpart filler plants, I take my garden hose to shower it from above the deck during the summer. I find the watering part therapeutic. If you’re looking to create a tropical exotic feel to your garden spaces, I would highly recommend the Ensete (red banana plant) on your growing list and keep an eye out for it when you are out shopping for plants for your larger container gardens and patio pots.

Botanical name for the red banana plant is:

Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’

Thank you for visiting,

Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT
Located in Broad Brook, CT

Links to more info:

Prior post about storing this red banana plant above. By Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT.
Post above shows the younger me digging it out in the autumn season to prepare it for storage.
Post about when I offered the red banana plants at my prior workshops.

Sowing Tomato Seeds Every Spring Season in Connecticut

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Except this year.

And I am missing it!

Every year, from February to April, my hands are usually very busy sowing and growing tomato plants from seed in my greenhouse. I begin in February with planning out dates, looking at the required timing for each seed type, and doing other tasks such as gathering up my seedling soil mix, seedling trays, and sowing tools.

Usually, in March, some of the seed sowing begins! I get all my seedling trays prepared by washing them appropriately, selecting locations on shelves in the greenhouse, getting my seedling heat mats lined out as well, and hanging seedling grow light fixtures above some of the seedling tray locations.

But this year, I am not going through this set-up and sow process (except for some flower seeds) because, for a period of time in April, I will be away due to some travel planned. To be away and not be here at my home to monitor the sprouted and growing seedlings in my greenhouse would be disastrous because seeds require constant moisture and other small steps for growing success.

If it is your first-time growing tomato plants from seed, remember that once the seed is planted in your seedling mix and waiting to germinate and sprout from the soil, you cannot simple walk away and forget about them. Each day, you should monitor the moisture of the seedling mix, and if the soil is dry, remoisten carefully. I usually use a watering can with a shower head type spout which gently flows out water as I carefully move the watering can over the top of the seedling trays to apply just enough moisture to keep the soil slightly moist. I often move the trays off the heating mats, water, and let it drain, then return the trays onto the heating mat under the grow lights.

Then we wait. We wait for that first little green sprout to appear above the soil mix. It is always a little boost when I see it there, and it gives me a feeling of happiness. I know it sounds a bit corny, or silly, but it truly does. Soon that baby sprout will grow into a seedling. During this growing phase, tomato seedlings are just like babies, they require care and watching.

If you ignore seedlings by leaving them for a week at a time, or even a weekend, they will surely dry up and wither. There are some exceptions to this perhaps, like using clear covers to maintain a bit of humidity and moisture, but my style of sowing and growing tomatoes from seed involves reviewing them each day and monitoring their needs. Do they need a bit of moisture, do they need a new location in the greenhouse to receive more sunlight, do they need to be removed off the heat mats? All of these questions come to mind as I watch my baby seedlings start growing.

Some seeds require anywhere from ten weeks before your last spring frost date to two weeks before your frost date to be sown indoors. Here in Connecticut, I use a timeframe of about May 12 to serve as my last spring frost date, and then I count backwards on the calendar and mark each timing. For example, 10 weeks would fall on March 3rd, and 8 weeks before the May frost date would fall on St. Patty’s Day, March 17th.

Let’s take for example an amazing tomato plant I grew from seed for a few years now called Oxheart. It grows tomatoes the shape of a heart and the fruit grows to three-pound sizes! They are incredible. The seed packet for Oxheart tomatoes indicates they may be started anywhere from 8 to 10 weeks before your last spring frost date in your state. You need to know what the estimated frost date is for your state and count backwards. Once I asked the seed company where I obtain my seeds from why some packets have such a long span, for example some packets will say sow the seeds three to eight weeks before the frost date. That is a long span, right? Eight weeks would be around mid-March while three weeks before falls around the end of April.

Their response was that it is because they provide a range. And you may go for some date in the middle of that range. Due to local climates, planting conditions, temperature, water, light, soil make up and more, all plays into how long it takes to grow your seedlings. Also, if you prefer more mature plants to transplant, you may start your seeds on the earlier side of that range. If you may be putting your seedlings into a cold frame outdoors, you may be starting later. I think for the past few years, I started them on the early side of the range and ended up with plants about the size big enough to put into one gallon nursery containers. And I’m happy with that size. One other thought is if you start on the early side of the range, you will need to pot up your seedlings into larger pots as they get bigger before they may be transplanted outdoor at the end of May. Just like babies needing new clothes as they grow. If you prefer not to pot up and have smaller plants, just start your seed sowing on the later end of the range indicated on the seed packet. But don’t go beyond the last week indicated on the packet. Say it is two to four weeks before the frost date, if you want till one week before the frost date, you may create a situation where your plants will not produce fruit on time. The reason you are starting the seeds indoors is because the growing season outdoors is not long enough to direct sow tomato plants due to our climate. So, you must start them early indoors to get started, then transplant after danger of spring frost and when it is warm enough outdoors.

To keep track of the timing on when to sow your seeds, I have created charts and I also note the dates on my wall calendar. This I have found to be very useful and helpful. Take the time, if you are starting seeds for the first time, to look at the “weeks before your spring frost date to sow” and mark the date on a wall calendar. Start with the expected spring frost date for your state, mark that and count backwards.

Memorial Day is the timing I use to plant the tomato plant outdoors. So, think about that span, anywhere from March till May, you are working on growing your seedlings and getting them prepared for the great outdoors. I like growing various tomatoes. Many are heirlooms which are some of the most delicious tomatoes you will ever eat. Some of my heirloom seeds are sown six to eight weeks before the frost date, some are sown four to six weeks before, and some are two to four weeks before. I suppose those I may sow around the end of April may make it on my sowing list because I will be back by that time from my travel, and let’s be honest here, I can’t resist sowing some – I just have to!

All of the tomato plants I start from seed usually are grown in container gardens at my home in fabric grow bags, large patio pots, and wooden large planters. I enjoy watching them grow and usually have to keep the squirrels away or pick the fruit before they fully ripen otherwise those little wild animals in my yard end up taking a bite or two. And of course, I’ve sold many tomato seedling, otherwise known as starter plants, to friends and family. They already told me they are going to miss my tomato plants this year. I don’t blame them!

And it is also important to remember that everyone has their own unique process and style to sowing and growing. I’m sure more advanced growers would have their own tricks of the trade perhaps, but for me, this calendaring process has worked out. You may find many more posts about my journey with tomato seeds on my blog site called, Please feel free anytime to ask questions. Oh, and by the way, I have seed packets available if you are local and interested.

Thank you for visiting and enjoy your weekend. Below are photos of some of my tomatoes!

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT

Broad Brook, CT

You may find me also on and

Photo of a Beautiful Goldie Heirloom Tomato on the plant
Next photo is of Cathy T’s deck with tomatoes growing in fabric grow bags. It looks like a big jungle of green and it is a great backdrop to a cozy chair where you may sit and watch the squirrels try to outsmart you!