Parts of the province are already getting some warm days, but that doesn't mean it's time to go out and plant seeds in your garden, says master gardener Brian Minter.

"Probably 50 per cent or more of seeds that are planted never quite make it back to the garden," Minter told host Gloria Macarenko on B.C. Almanac.

"They germinate but it's too early. They get too tall, too leggy and they fall back."

That's why timing is so important, Minter says, and here are his tips for growers who would like to have gardens that flourish this year.

1. Follow the guidelines in a seed catalogue

Good seed catalogues will have information on the number of days, "from the time that seed is germinated, until it's actually mature," Minter said.

The catalogue or package also indicates when to sow the seeds for best results.

"That is when you have the window of opportunity to be able to grow these things," he said.

"Most of all what I hate to see is people buying expensive seeds and plants and not having them germinate."

2. Look for natural indicators

Minter called forsythia bushes, which have vibrant yellow flowers, "Mother Nature's starting gun."

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Blooming forsythia is a good indicator as to when it is warm enough for some seeds to be planted, Minter says. (Getty Images/Moment Open)

"When you see Forsythia coming abloom in your garden, that generally would mean we're getting close to 10 C daytime temperatures."

However, Minter said one should wait until there are also 10 C temperatures at night before heat loving plants can go into the ground.

3. Better a little late than early

"Once we shift over [to spring], suddenly we get the long days — we have more sun, the intensity of the sun is hotter so things grow quickly," Minter said.

4. Choose the right spot

"When you're choosing to go early, choose the warmest spot in your garden. Southwest facing, [give it] a little bit of protection from the cooling winds," Minter said.

He also suggested raised garden beds to help plants survive.

5. Don't transfer from greenhouse to garden too early

"If anything comes out of a warm greenhouse … if it's not properly hardened off and toughened up to go into the garden, you're in doo-doo," Minter said, adding that frost during a cold snap will kill those plants that aren't yet prepared for it.


To hear the full interview with Brian Minter, listen to the audio labelled: Tips from master gardener Brian Minter on when to start planting seeds