Gardening Tips for April

April Gardening Tips

Monthly task lists help to grow and maintain your gardens, indoors and out.

Scan these tips from gardening expert, Melinda Myers, and follow those that apply to your particular landscape to help increase your success while making gardening easier, less stressful and fun.

 • Get an early start on your vegetable crops by using some of the new and old season-extending techniques. Gardeners have long used cloches, hotcaps and cold frames to lengthen the growing season. Floating row cover fabrics also make the job easier and less time consuming.

• Keep lawn mowers and weed whips away from tree trunks. Mower blight (tree decline due to equipment damage) is the biggest killer of trees. Mulch or groundcovers protect trees from mowing equipment.

• Clip off brown tips of spider plants, dracaenas and prayer plants. Keep the soil slightly moist. This dilutes the fluoride and chlorine in the water, preventing tip burn. Or use rainwater, dehumidifier water or distilled water for these plants.

• Begin soil preparation when the soil is slightly moist. Take a soil test in poor preforming gardens or when establishing new planting beds.

• Plant hardened off pansies, dusty miller, snapdragons, stocks, and other cool season annuals and vegetables outdoors.

• Start zinnias, marigolds, calendula, cockscomb, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants indoors in early April.

• Plant seeds of cool, season crops like beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, leaf lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, onion sets, peas and potatoes outdoors in properly prepared soil.

• Crack carefully and save egg shells halves to use for starting seeds. They make a fun, fat-free Easter gift and the shells decompose in the soil.

• Extend the life of your Easter lily. Display in a cool bright location out of drafts of hot and cold air. Keep the soil slightly moist and don’t allow the pot to sit in water. Lift pollen from clothing and tablecloths with sticky tape.

• Don’t compost your Easter lily, continue to grow as a houseplant and then move to the garden after danger of frost has past. Plant in full sun and well-drained location and watch for lily blooms mid summer in subsequent years

• Plant asparagus roots 12 inches apart in trenches 6 inches and rows 36 inches apart. Cover the crown and as plants sprout and grow continue to cover until the trench is filled.

• Begin harvesting three year and older asparagus when spears are 6 to 8 inches tall. Harvest established rhubarb plants when stems are 12 to 15 inches long.

• Dig and divide overgrown rhubarb or plant roots of newly purchased plants with the crown buds 2 inches below the soil surface.

• Start mowing as soon as the grass greens up and starts growing. Mow high (2 ½ to 3 ½ inches) and often so your remove one inch or less. Leave short grass clippings on the lawn to break down and add nutrients, organic matter and moisture to the soil.

• Apply pre-emergent crabgrass killer if needed when the lilac flower buds begin to swell and bridal wreath spirea start to bloom. Use corn gluten meal for an eco-friendly alternative. Use the weather and spring blooms not the calendar as your guide.

• Finish garden cleanup, remove any remaining winter protection and prepare gardens for planting. Compost the debris.

• Finish pruning vines, as needed before growth begins. Wait to prune the spring flowering five leaf akebia and any other spring flowering vines, until after they have finished flowering.

• Remove dead, damaged, crossing, and weak branches on roses. Remove a few of the older stems on shrub rose at ground level to encourage new growth. Prune hybrid teas back to 16 – 18 inches tall. Remove only dead and old canes of climbing roses. Wait until after these plants flower to do any additional pruning.

• The sudden drop in temperature last November and extremely cold February may have increased winter damage and death of roses. Be patient. It may take time for new growth to appear.

• Remove and destroy the caterpillar filled webby nests of eastern tent caterpillar on wild cherry, apple, crabapples, birches and a few other ornamental trees. Prune out or smash colonies of European pine sawflies on mugo and other pines. Remove both green and black knobby black knot cankers on ornamental and edible plums, cherries and their relatives.

• Move above ground planters out of winter storage. Wait for the temperatures to hover around freezing if the leaves have begun to grow.

• Plant trees, shrubs and perennials as soon as plants are available.

• Dig and divide overgrown perennials as they emerge in spring. In general divide fall bloomers in spring, spring bloomers in fall and summer bloomers in spring or fall. But most perennials will tolerate the move when you have time as long as you provide proper care.

• Celebrate Arbor Day the last Friday of the month. Plant new trees, care for existing trees or have a family picnic under your favorite tree.

 Written by gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s monthly gardening tips with you!