FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – With how warm it has been in January and now into February, you may be feeling the spring fever and the urge to plant. However, it is still much too early for any seasonal planting, as cold spells have occurred well into March and April.

Jayde Grisham, Urban Agriculture and Horticulture Educator at the Allen County Extension Office, says Mother’s Day is still the recommended day for spring planting, as this is when the soil becomes more consistently warmer. You may be able to plant some varieties at the end of April, including Brassica, Collard, and other cabbages. Most vegetables should wait until Mother’s Day though, especially tomatoes and peppers. These two in particular can suffer from transplant shock and will not survive if the soil is too cold. With substantial amounts of snow still possible in March and April, it is too risky to plant right now.

However, all of the recent warmth has caused buds to form on the trees and some plants are breaking their dormancy already. Perennials are beginning to emerge, especially in locations that are a heat sink. This is where something like the side of a building or the pavement heats up more and can support the plant through the colder nights.

Most perennials are used to temperature fluctuations and well adapted to the ups and downs of late winter to early spring. Therefore, they will likely recover well from a cold spell. However, if the warm spell is greater than normal and longer than normal and a cold snap occurs, they might suffer some damage for a year or two. Most regular plants though can recover and will come back up again next year.

The current main area of concern is trees that have been planted recently. If you have a tree that is a year old or younger, you should protect the buds. If the warm spell continues and trees begin to leaf out, then there’s a greater concern for a cold spell to damage some of the leaves.

Grisham advises waiting to plant annuals until it gets warmer. You should not worry too much about perennials if they do leaf out because they will likely recover next year…they just will not be as pretty this year if we then get a cold spell. If you have planted perennials, cover up them up. You can protect any plants that are coming out of the ground by using old leaves or mulch; you can spread that around your plant and tuck them in a little bit when it does get really cold. You can also invest in some row covers.

The good news is not all plants use temperature to determine when they emerge. Some plants have adapted to using the day length to determine when they leaf out. So you do not have to be concerned with these particular plants.

However, the bad news is the warmer weather in January and February means pests could be more of a problem. We’re becoming more likely to get pests that may have used to only impact plants to the south of us. We’re consequently seeing more disease pressure on local plants. The Allen County Extension Office is currently conducting research and they anticipate those pest problems to our south could arrive here in the next five to ten years.

If you have questions in advance of the spring planting season, the extension office is holding an open house on Saturday, March 11th from 11 AM to 4 PM. Here you can ask questions and experts will be available to give answers based in science. They can diagnose pest issues for you, tell you when to plant things, and which varieties do well in our area.

For more information from the Allen County Extension Office, visit their website here.