Plant Story's Top 10 Outdoor Plants for Spring

April 13, 2021

Thomas Tran

Don’t pass up the opportunity to have one of the following list of 10 plants recommended by Plant Story. Plants are chosen based on decorative aspects, ease of care, productivity, bud even edibility. Enjoy some of these cherished plants grown by home gardeners like yourself!!

Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum)

A species of flowering plant they is grown for their edible berries (technically a fruit). Now a widely grown plant, the tomato originates from the Western parts of South and Central America. Grown in clusters from small often yellow flowers at the end of large stems of vining plants, the tomato has grown to be a valuable food source for people around the world. Though the determinate varieties usually does not require support, the indeterminate varieties can grow massive and thus require some structure to help with its growth. Size, shape, color, texture and flavor varies between varieties but can range from small green and sweet to extra large black and tangy. With variety names such as beefsteak, green zebra and rainbow, there is no doubt a vast assortment just waiting to be grown and tasted.

Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) Aka: summer squash, Italian squash

Zucchini is an annual squash vegetable that is used in many cuisines around the world. Belonging to the cucurbita family, it is a herbaceous vine that sends out both male and female flowers in a floral array in late spring and then all through summer. Pollen from the male flowers must get to the females in order for pollination to occur and fruit to develop. Once fruit develops it may reach great size if not picked in time. There are many varieties of zucchini to choose from for the home gardener, zephyr, eight ball, patty pan, and black beauty are just some of the great zucchinis available. Large vines can stretch 5-7 ft long and spread 3 to 4 feet wide.

Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) Aka: garden cucumber, gherkin

Belonging to the curcurbutaceae family, cucumber is a vining plant that once grew wild in Southern Asia where it originates. It is now one of the most widely used vegetables in the world. Many cucumber varieties, like zucchini, have both male and female flowers developing on the plant. Pollen from the male flowers need to get to the stigma of the females in order for fruit to develop. Unlike Zucchini, cucumber plants generally are thin lanky vines that climb along structures and can extend over 10 feet under pristine conditions. There are different varieties from pickling, slicing, burpless, hot house, and cooking that lends to their different uses.

Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Beans are a great addition to any outdoor garden. Bean plants have many benefits including fixing their own nitrogen which helps improve soil quality for subsequent crops used in the same area. They are broken into different groups based on how they are used, Fresh or Dried. Dried beans require the bean pods to be fully dried before harvesting the seeds inside for cooking dishes such as chili and soups. Fresh beans can be eaten as pods right off the vine or cooked whole. Within each group, they are farther identified as either pole beans or bush beans with bush beans having a more compact habit and one large harvest. Pole beans offer a longer harvest season with vining plants that can grow up to 10 ft tall. Pole beans normally require support for the plant to climb as it goes. There are over 130 varieties of edible pod beans and even more being developed each year. With that many kinds, there is likely a few that will stand out as favorite for everyone.

Melons

The term melon refers to one of many plants that are within the Cucurbitaceae family. This includes watermelon, cantaloupes, and musk melons to name a few. Technically a berry, melons are easy to grow outdoors for home gardeners. These annual plants grow rapidly and can spread out and take over a back yard if not upkept. With care, each vining plant will give forth to flowers and eventually fruits that resemble the miniature versions of the fruit. Those mini fruits eventually grow to full size versions and when picked at it’s peak, is unparalleled in taste, texture and flavor.

Corn (Zea Mays) AKA: Maize

Corn has been domesticated and cultivated for over 10,000 years. What once was a mainly leafy plant that looked like grass with very few small hard kernels has been selectively bred throughout the years to the full kernel ears you see at the market today. Best to direct sow from seed, the plants start off with a few leaf blades, eventually giving way to pollen containing tassels at the top and 1-3 ears below. Once the ears mature, corn silk emerges from each ear. When the pollen reaches the silk, it pollinates the ear of corn with each kernel developing from each strand of silk. Corn is best planted in blocks for optimum pollination and it is recommended each variety block be planted at least 30 feet apart to avoid cross pollination and varying results in the final product. A staple food in many parts of the world, corn has been used to also produce products such as syrup, oil, flour, and even cosmetics. It is no wonder this is such a popular crop.

Eggplant (Solanum melongena) AKA: aubergine or brinjal

The eggplant is part of the nightshade family solanaceae that peppers and tomatoes also belong to. This annual, and sometimes perennial (in warmer regions), gets its name from the oblong fruits that resembles the shape of eggs originally. Ranging in size and color from large white to small green to long and purple with mixes in between, the seeds can be started indoors 8 to 10 weeks prior to the last frost date in spring. After which the plants can then be transplanted outdoors to start growing in their season. Great in dishes such as eggplant Parmesan, Baba ghanoush, maghmour and rollatini, this versatile vegetable has spongy flesh that cooks down juicy and tender. However you like to prepare them, eggplants are always a great addition to the home garden.

Chili Peppers

A member of the nightshade family and under the genus capsicum, chili peppers add spice to the garden and in your cuisine. Large vibrantly colored lobes of hollow fleshy fruits hang off trussed branches upon long stemmed plants make for a striking inclusion to any landscape. Since there are hundreds if not thousands of varieties of peppers there is bound to be one that will please any gardener. Pepper plants do well under full sunlight, regular watering and a good amount of fertilizer to keep the blooms going. They can be picked when green or left on the vine to ripen to different shades of yellow, orange and red.

Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) AKA: spud

Potatoes are a world wide staple food. It is related to tomatoes within the nightshade family, it is grown mainly for its edible tubers. Also like tomatoes, potato plants will grow roots on the stems if it is in contact with soil or water for a prolonged period. Due to this nature, it is highly recommended that the stem are “hilled”, a term used to describe covering the stems with soil to induce more root growth and creating higher yields due to the fact that potatoes grow from the root system. When cooked, potatoes have a starchy taste and texture. It can be served mashed, fried, in soups, as chips, or in a salad. The possibilities are endless.

Ground Cherries (Physalis peruviana) AKA: cape gooseberry, uchuva, poha

Ground Cherries are flowering annual plants though can be a perennial in warm climates. They are in the nightshade family and produces fruit similar in form to tomatoes. The plant sprawls outward extending multiple branches, producing a flower on each leaf node that eventually forms a fruit encased by a paper-like cover. Once ripe the cover turns brown and dries up but the fruit inside is a golden yellow or orange in color. The taste is extremely tropics with flavors reminiscent of pineapple, some mango and perhaps even a slight hint of peach. It is eaten fresh as snacks or can be cooked into chutneys and sauces or jellies. They are becoming more and more popular as their reputation spreads.

Growing and caring for these plants outdoors can easy and reward you with many edible crops. You will not only enjoy growing it but also have fun with sharing them through family meals.

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