Gardening Help Search

Temporary Closure

The Center for Home Gardening is currently closed to ensure staff and visitor well-being. Our Plant Doctor service is still available through e-mail. If you have any gardening questions, you can e-mail us at

Spring Plant Selection

The warmer sunny days of April are here, which means it’s time to start gearing up for spring gardening! However, before you start adding plants to your online shopping cart, it’s important to consider selecting the “right plant for the right place”. Tailoring your plant selection to your yard’s unique environmental conditions will help your plants thrive and reduce extra maintenance or care. Use the steps below to help guide you in selecting the perfect plants for your yard:  
Come up with a plan

Use the early weeks of April to assess your yard. Create a rough sketch of your landscape and note where current plantings are, and areas you’d like to plant. Determine how much space you have available for planting, and what the conditions are in those areas, as they will greatly influence the types (and sizes) of plants you can grow in those spaces.              

  • How much light does the area receive (Full sun, partial shade, deep shade), and for how long?  
  • Is the soil well-draining, or is there standing water after rain?  
  • Is there exposure to extreme temperatures, such as concrete, or high winds?  
  • Is the bed close to a water source? Or will you have to hand water the area?       

Research & Selection

Once you’ve gotten the lay of the landscape, you can begin researching plants that will work with your garden spaces. In conjunction with browsing the online catalogs of local nurseries and garden centers, utilize the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Plant Finder page to help you select the right plant. You can use the advance features to narrow down plants based on their type, hardiness zone, showiness and more. Each profile will provide you with detailed information on the plant’s growth requirements, unique characteristics, common pest and disease problems and uses in the garden. 

Also, be sure to check out the Visual Guides on Plant Selection, which gives a quick list of plants that perform well in Midwest landscapes, and Fact Sheets that give detailed gardening information on a wide range of topics.   

  Visual Guides

Fact Sheets (PDF)

Ordering Plants

Many nurseries and gardening centers in the St. Louis Metro region are now offering services such as curbside pick-up, delivery and consultations through phone or e-mail. Click the link below to see a map of open garden centers and links to their website for more information on ordering plants. We will continue to keep this page updated as information becomes available. Did we miss a locally owned garden center that is open for pick-up? Let us know HERE.  


The Garden receives many calls from the public each year asking when they can begin planting in their yards. For the St. Louis region, spring planting is determined by the average last killing frost, which is about April 15th. The actual date can vary from year to year, but the average date is a good estimation of when one can begin planting outdoors. 

Seasonal Gardening Tips

  • Frost is still possible this month. Do not uncover plants or plant tender plants too early.
  • Fertilize established roses once new growth is 2 inches long. Used a balanced formulation. Begin spraying to control black spot disease.
  • Examine shrubs for winter injury. Prune all dead and weakened wood.
  • Shrub and trees best planted or transplanted in spring, rather than fall, include butterfly bush, dogwood, rose of Sharon, black gum (Nyssa), vitex, red bud, magnolia, tulip poplar, birch, ginkgo, hawthorn and most oaks.
  • Plant bare-root or potted fruit trees as soon as the soil can be worked.
  • Evergreen and deciduous hedges may be sheared. Prune the top narrower than the base so sunlight will reach the lower limbs.
  • Don't plant tomatoes or other warm-season annuals such as petunias and vinca until the weather warms, usually mid-to late May.
  • Begin planting out summer bulbs such as caladiums, gladioli and acidanthera at 2 week intervals.
  • Plants started indoors should be hardened off outdoors in cold frames before being transplanted into the garden.
  • Start cucumber, cantaloupe, summer squash and watermelon seeds indoors in peat pots.
  • Protect bees and other pollinating insects. Do not spray insecticides on fruit trees that are blooming.

Learn More

Enjoy the fragrant blooms of the Ozark Witch Hazel flowering in shrub borders or wooded areas on warm sunny days.
Repot any root-bound house plants now before vigorous growth occurs. Choose a new container that is only 1 or 2 inches larger in diameter than the old pot.
Repot any root-bound house plants now before vigorous growth occurs. Choose a new container that is only 1 or 2 inches larger in diameter than the old pot.
Bloom Time Calendar

See when plants bloom at the Garden:

Gardening Help

The Center for Home Gardening is currently closed. If you have any gardening questions, you can e-mail us at