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April Gardening Tips:

Planning

When buying bedding annuals this spring choose properly grown plants with good color. Buy plants that are not too large for their pots with many unopened buds. Plants that bloom in the packs are often root bound. Plants not yet in bloom will actually bloom sooner, become better established and grow faster.

Plan to attract hummingbirds to your garden by planting red or orange flowers. Monarda (beebalm) and Zauschneria (California fuchsia) are good perennials to provide nectar to these small birds.

Planting

Begin to plant seedlings of warm-season vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. You can also start your pumpkin and winter squash seeds now.

Sow beets, beans, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, sweet corn and radishes.

Plant herbs such as thyme, sage, parsley, chives, and basil.

Sod or sow new lawns, and overseed damaged older lawns.

 

Start planting warm season annuals such as impatiens, marigolds, petunias, sunflowers, zinnia, lobelia, allysum.

 

Finish planting summer-flowering bulbs such as tuberose, gladiolus, dahlia, and callas.

 

Plant chervil, coriander, dill, rosemary, and summer savory outside after the last spring frost date for your area. 50% probability of frost free after March 10 2012.

Plant dahlia tubers as soon as the danger of frost is passed. Stake at the time of planting to avoid injury of the tubers.

Plant clematis in locations that receive at lease six hours of sunshine a day. Use organic mulch or ground-covers to shade roots and keep them cool. Plant in rich, well-drained loam.

Hhydrangeas will transplant well into the garden after their flowers fade. When the weather warms, plant in well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Don’t be surprised if the next year’s flowers are a different color than the first year. Blue or pink hydrangea color is dependent on the pH of the soil. Alkaline soil produces pink flowers; acidic soil produces blue flowers. White hydrangeas are not affected by soil pH.

Many gardeners plant annual and perennial flowers to attract hummingbirds. Woody plants can also be added to the garden to provide nectar for these tiny birds. Some common trees visited by hummingbirds are buckeye, horse chestnut, catalpa, apple, crabapple, hawthorn, silk tree, redbud and tulip poplar. Shrubs include azalea, beauty bush, coralberry, honeysuckle, lilac, and red weigela.

Maintenance

Frost tender plants such as citrus, fuchsia, geranium, hibiscus, mandevilla, and bougainvillea can go outdoors when all chance of frost is gone

Start feeding potted plants every two to three weeks with half-strength fertilizer

If plants like citrus, camellias, gardenias, and grapes are chlorotic (yellowing leaves), spray leaves with a foliar fertilizer containing chelated iron.

Mulch soil to save water, smother weeds, keep soil cooler. Spread 1-3 inches of compost, wood shavings or other organic material under shrubs, trees, annuals and vegetables.

Thin vegetables that were sown too thickly, like basil, carrots, green onions or lettuce.

Prune spring-flowering shrubs and trees after bloom is over.

Fertilize everything right now, but do not fees spring-flowering shrubs like azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons until after then have finished flowering; then use an acid based fertilizer. They should also be pruned after blooming.

Now is the time to divide mint, chive, tarragon and creeping thyme

Control lawn weeds now through late May before they get large.

The lawn mower blade should always be sharp so as not to tear the grass. If you sharpen the blade at home, be sure to balance it too.

To determine if soil is ready to work, squeeze a handful into a tight ball, then break the ball apart with your fingers. If the ball of soil readily crumbles in your fingers, the soil is ready to be worked. However, if the soil stays balled it is still too wet to work. Try again in another week.

April is a good time to clean up plants and flower beds. Pick out dead leaves and twogs and prune dean limbs.

Cut flower stalks back to the ground on daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and other spring flowering bulbs as the flowers fade. Do not cut the foliage until it dies naturally. The leaves are necessary to produce strong bulbs capable of reflowering.

Once new leaf growth begins on trees and shrubs, cut back to green wood any twigs affected by winter kill.

Weed and Pest Control

Keep an eye out for aphids and get them before they take over your plants. Use a strong stream of water or safe soap products.

Keep after slugs and snails!

Posted by Michael, Lifestyle Landscapes design team.