Maine Planting Basics

Planting ABCs

New to gardening? Not sure where to start? Looking for advice on planting, landscaping or garden design? We’ve got your back. Being a gardener in the state of Maine means enjoying a diverse landscape, wide-ranging native plants, and an abundance of vegetation that thrives in our four-season setting.

Start with the Basics

Bailey Nurseries’ Gardening Basics will guide you on making a plan for your yard, choosing the plants that are right for your space, or starting a container garden, no matter what the color of your thumb.

Use Native Plants

Plants that are native to Maine are desirable because they conserve Maine’s natural landscape and they do the best job of supporting the ecosystem naturally by preserving wildlife and insect populations (like birds, bees and butterflies).

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Maine’s landscape is naturally diverse, so there are many plant species that are native to the area. Find out what plants work best for the Maine landscape from the UMaine Extension and learn about native shrubs at the Wild Seed Project.

Don’t remove plants from the wild. Taking native plants from the wild decreases native populations, and most will not survive transplanting. Make sure your plants are grown at a nursery and avoid collecting from the wild or purchasing from those who do.

 

Avoid Invasive Plants

Never introduce invasive plants that will aggressively spread off your property. See what plants are considered invasive in Maine at Maine.gov, and learn how to combat them if they show up in your backyard at MOFGA.

 

Make it Bee-friendly.

In Maine, both native Maine bees and introduced honey bees are the most important pollinators of fruits and nuts. Trees, shrubs, fruits, vegetables and flower gardens in our landscapes can be important sources of nectar and pollen. Creating a pollinator garden is an excellent way to preserve natural habitat, support the bee population and create a pleasing environment. Get advice on bee-friendly landscapes from UMaine Extension.

Ready to Plant? Start with a Shrub

Most shrubs are adaptable, low-maintenance, and can be a great way to provide beauty, summer shade, and curb appeal. Planting a shrub is an easy planting project. Learn this (and other planting projects) at Monrovia.

Ask the Experts

Visiting your local garden center, nursery or greenhouse is one of the best ways to get your gardening questions answered. Maine garden centers have friendly, knowledgeable staff that welcome questions on choosing plants, tips for growing, and other gardening topics. Find Your Local Garden Center.


There are plenty of resources around the internet as well. Start with First Edition’s Let’s Ask Amy for tips on plant care, pairing plants, yard designs, questions about specific plants, or anything about design and gardening projects. There are no dumb questions when it comes to planting!

Tips for Maine Growing & Planting

Looking for tips about plant varieties, advice on growing, or getting rid of pests or weeds? Visit trusted local authorities in Maine planting:

Plants for the Maine Landscape
Wild Seed Project Native Plants
Gardenmaine.com
Maine Arborist
Composting At Home

Resources

Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Frost Dates

Top

Lemon Queen Sunflowers - Helianthus annuus

Annual

 

Short Description

Beautiful butter yellow flowers blossom mid-summer to frost! Typically grow to more than 5 ft. tall. Expect 70 days to flower.

Growing Guidelines

  1. Around the last frost date, sow seeds directly into the soil.
  2. Plant seeds 1" deep and 6" apart.
  3. Water well after planting.
  4. Apply a 3"-4" layer of mulch to conserve water and keep down weeds.
  5. Thin seedlings to 1 ft. apart to allow 2 to 3 ft. between plants.

Care and Feeding
Plant in full sun. Sunflowers are drought-resistant, but they'll grow better if you water regularly from the time the flowers begin to develop until they're mature. Thriving in most soils, these flowers will become massive if given ample fertility, space and water. Harvest blossoms for continued flowering.

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Calendula Mix-Calendula officinalis

 

Short Description

Fruition has hand-selected this variety to have a brilliant diversity of colors with dozens of gorgeous, petals on each blossom.

Growing Guidelines

Direct sow (recommended)

  1. After the last frost, sow directly outside in the garden.
  2. Plant seed 24 to 36 inches apart in all directions.

Transplant method

  1. A cool-season plant, calendula can be started indoors in flats, under grow lights 6-8 weeks before the last frost for early season flowering.
  2. Seeds germinate in 5-15 days.

Care and Feeding
Plant in full sun to partial shade. Easy to grow and remarkably drought tolerant, calendula also thrives in containers and will readily naturalize when let go to seed.

Transplanting Tips

  1. Purchase a good seed starting soil like Espoma Organic seed starting mix or Coast of Maine.
  2. Use a small greenhouse tray(tray with a clear plastic dome) to germinate your seeds.
  3. When it's time to transplant into the garden, use a fertilizer like Espoma Flower-tone or Espoma Plant-tone.

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Purple Queen Anne's Lace

"Dara" Daucus carota

 

Short Description

Gorgeously laced 3-5" umbels in shades of burgundy, lilac, mauve & white on long, strong stems perfect for cutting, adored by pollinators. Related to our native carrot, Queen Anne's Lace.

Growing Guidelines

Direct sow (recommended)

  1. In early spring, after late frost, sow seeds directly in soil.
  2. Plant 1 seed 1/8" deep and 2" apart.
  3. Expect 2 weeks for germination.
  4. When seedlings are 2-3" tall, thin to 1 plant every 9-12".
  5. Support may be needed if fertility is high or if your garden is windy.

Transplant method

  1. Chill seed at 40 F 1-2 weeks prior to sowing 1/8" deep, 2 seeds per cell 4-5 weeks before planting out.
  2. Expect germination in 1-2 weeks.
  3. When first leaves appear, transplant into larger containers.
  4. Harden off & transplant with 9-12" between plants after last frost.

Care and Feeding
Plant in full sun. Expect 65-75 days to maturity. Dara has an exceptionally long vase life; harvest when 80% of an umbel's flowers are open & no pollen has shed. Enjoy 7-15 heads per plant on swaying 35-50" stalks.

Transplanting Tips

  1. Purchase a good seed starting soil like Espoma Organic seed starting mix or Coast of Maine.
  2. Use a small greenhouse tray(tray with a clear plastic dome) to germinate your seeds.
  3. When it's time to transplant into the garden, use a fertilizer like Espoma Flower-tone or Espoma Plant-tone.
Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Marigolds

Annual

Care and Feeding

Transplant Only: Sow 4 weeks before last frost shallowly, 2 seeds per cell and thin to 1, keeping soil surface moist until emergence. Transplant to larger containers when true leaves appear. Harden off and transplant outside when the danger of frost has passed with 12" between plants. Deadhead for blossoms all season.

  • Sowing Date: Indoors before last frost
  • Seed Depth: 1/4 inch
  • Days to Germination: 4-7 days at 75-80°F
  • Days to Maturity: 60
  • Plant spacing after thinning: 12 inches
  • Height: 12 inches

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Organic Mexican Sunflower (Torch Tithonia)

Annual

Care and Feeding
Direct Seed (recommended): After final frost, sow every 8" and thin to one every ~2'. Light required to germ, so barely cover seed. Full sun is best. Any (even poor) soil is suitable. Harvest flowers when 90% open for bouquets.

Transplant: Sow indoors 2-3 weeks before last frost, transplanting after frost with spacing below.
 
  • Sowing Date: After frost; Late May- early June
  • Seed Depth: 1/2 inch
  • Days to Germination: 7-14 days
  • Days to Maturity: 85
  • Plant spacing after thinning: 2 feet
  • Height: 5-7 feet

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Cosmos

Annual

Care and Feeding

Direct Seed (recommended): After last frost, shallowly sow 4 seeds/foot & thin to 1/foot when first true leaves appear. Wider spacing = thicker stronger stems.

Bouquets: harvest when petals first open. Deadhead for blooms all season.

Transplant: Shallowly sow 4 weeks before transplanting after last frost at below spacing. Transplant your cosmos for earlier blooms and more full-size plants per pack; direct sow for blooms throughout the season and simplicity of sowing.

  • Sowing Date: After frost, late May to early June 
  • Seed Depth: 1/4 inch
  • Days to Germination: 7-10
  • Days to Maturity: 65-70
  • Plant spacing after thinning: 18-24 inches
  • Height: 3-4 feet

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.