Green thumbs filled up on flowers on a sunny Memorial Day

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - While many stores in Anchorage were closed for Memorial Day, others stayed open to attract residents with a floral assortment.

After such a rainy weekend here in the Anchorage area, Bell’s Nursery was packed with green thumbs on Monday, ready to do their first planting of the year.

"It's my baggage -- my checked baggage," said Shirley Zimin who lives in the Bristol Bay region, as she loaded crates full of flowers onto a shopping cart.

Zimin makes sure to stock up on flowers every Memorial Day, and she ships them home to Naknek, where she works as a librarian.

"It's funny, because the PenAir people call me the Plant Lady," Zimin said with a laugh as she filled up the trunk of her car.

Zimin, like many veteran Alaskan planters, knows those plants of hers need to acclimate to the outdoors. Stefan Schirda, manager at Bell’s Nursery, walked Channel 2 through that process, called “hardening up,” on Monday.

"The process takes about a week, sometimes two weeks,” Schirda said. “And you want to introduce the plant slowly to the sun and the wind."

Schirda says to put the plants in a shaded place outside, for two hours on the first day, then bring them back inside – be sure to put them in a place with a little natural light.

"Then, increasing the time every time you take them outside; from two hours, increase the time every day with another two hours."

Schirda says to repeat this for seven to ten days until the plant is ready to spread its petals on its own.

"It's like going to the beach,” Schirda said. “Being from Alaska, you go to Hawaii in Dec. and Jan., and you don't want to go the first day and take in all of the sun."

Schirda says to watch out for any frost warnings. You'll want to take your plants back inside so they don't freeze their petals off! June first is the safe planting date for most plants here in Alaska.

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