The so-called ice saints have a special meaning for gardening. Read here what the farmer’s rule is all about and what you should do in the garden now.

“Just wait for the Ice Saints,” gardeners often say. What sounds like a church prophecy is actually an ancient farming rule for plants. And it is still always right.

Actually five canonized bishops and martyrs. But their memorial days are better known as “the Ice Saints”.

In northern Germany these are the days for Mamertus, Pankratius and Servatius from May 11th to 13th. In the south and southeast, in addition to Pankratius and Servatius, Bonifatius (May 14th) and “Cold Sophie” (May 15th) are also included.

Around this period in May, numerous farming rules have developed that take the weather and the plants into account. For example: “Pankraz, Servaz, Bonifaz only give way to summer”. And in southern Germany they rhyme: “Pankrazi, Servazi and Bonifazi are three frosty Bazi. And at the end, Cold Sophie is never missing.”

The proverbs contain a wealth of experience about recurring meteorological phenomena that has been passed down through many generations. In the past, farmers often couldn’t write. Therefore, the rules have been put into rhyme form to make them easier to remember.

Experience has shown that late frosts often occur in Germany during the ice saints, as, according to the German Weather Service, arctic cold air reaches Central Europe from the north.

Even in spring-like April and early May, isolated frosts, especially at night, were still common. In the worst case, sensitive and very young plants that have already been planted in the bed or left out in the pot will freeze to death.

Farming rules are a rough guide. So these frosts can happen, but they don’t necessarily occur.

And in fact – in recent years the polar air influence, which was present in mid-May for a long time, has often occurred earlier. According to the German Weather Service, this could possibly be an indication of global warming.

But in some years there is a May frost. In 2020, just in time for Mamertus on May 11th, arctic cold air flooded large parts of Germany, according to the DWD. And in 2021, slightly frosty temperatures were recorded in many places in northern Germany on May 8th and 9th.

Therefore, it can be said: Even if the probability of late frosts seems to decrease in mid-May and good weather forecasts certainly warn us of frost – it doesn’t hurt to know and heed such farmer’s rules. For example, by only planting frost-sensitive vegetables and flowering plants in the bed after the danger of frost has passed. Or have a fleece ready to protect them on frosty cold nights.

Basically, the garden and balcony season is now really starting. You can also see this: Nature produces lush greenery, the plants become taller and more magnificent. And for many, the main flowering period begins.

Hobby gardeners now have an important task again: water regularly. Because the increasing heat can bring with it dryness. “Freshly planted perennials and shrubs in particular need our support with targeted watering,” says the Rhineland-Palatinate Garden Academy in its May tips.

By the way, it is better to water less often and more thoroughly instead of giving a little every day. This is the only way the plants can form extensive roots and thus provide for themselves better.

The original for this article “Ice Saints! What you need to pay attention to in the garden now” comes from