April Gardening Tips
April is a good month to re-pot plants that are outgrowing their containers – house plants really benefit form repotting. When doing so - prune out any dead or diseased roots or leaves. Inspect you plants for insect pests and treat with Neem oil or Espoma Earth-Tone Insect Control. If you are repotting orchids into bark mixtures soak the bark over night in warm water you can add a water soluble fertilizer to the soaking water. Be careful not to over pot - choose a container only slightly larger and tamp the potting mix down snugly so it absorbs water better and supports the plant. Increase fertilizer for plants that are actively growing.
Vegetable seeds and seedlings:
You may direct seed beets, radishes, parsnips, Swiss chard and lettuce now. You may set out your cool season vegetable transplants started indoors towards the end of the month. Thin overcrowded seedlings for a better yield this season. Protect your seedlings and transplants with a floating row cover.
Small fruits and perennial vegetables:
Rhubarb and asparagus should be planted now. Do not harvest asparagus the first year it's planted - this allows the plant more energy for root growth and abundant crops in the years to come. Plant strawberries now - keep the crowns just at soil level and spread the roots out. Strawberries like a well drained soil and plenty of sun. You may fertilize small fruits now. If you did not remove the last years fruiting canes from raspberries in fall you may do so now.
Fertilize fruit trees with a nitrogen rich organic fertilizer like Espoma Tree-tone now. Do not fertilize the trees if they were hard pruned last year or if they appeared overly vigorous last season. Continue your fruit tree spay program to prevent blemished fruit and diseases. Thin fruit after complete fruit set. Thinning is an important technique for growing quality fruit and maintaining tree health. Check your pH and apply lime if necessary to your stone fruits.
If you did not seed this spring you can apply corn gluten when the redbuds bloom. Complete spring seeding this month – September is the best time of year to seed a new lawn. Warm season grasses like zoysiagrass benefit from dethatching in April. Get your mower blades sharpened and remember to set your mower height to 3 inches. Mowing at this height will keep your lawn healthy and suppress weeds. Choose a mulching mower - returning the clippings to the lawn is beneficial, only remove clippings if cutting over grown grass.
Cut back groundcover plantings like ivy, vinca and pachysandra needing rejuvenation. Remove leaves and debris with a hard rake and fertilize lightly. Fertilize spring bulbs this month - contrary to popular belief it is ok to remove bulb foliage before it is completely brown and dead cut it back 6 weeks after flowering. You can remove the flower stalks as soon as the blossoms fade. Place plant support rings out now and allow the plants to grow into them. This is prime planting season just be careful of overly soft growth and protect your new plants from frost. Use Espoma Bio-tone for best results.
Cool season spring annuals are available to plant now. Continue to deadhead pansies and apply repellants to deter rabbits and deer and remember to fertilize. Remove ornamental cabbage and kale before they begin to bolt. Summer annuals will arrive late this month - temperatures below 40 degrees can damage some greenhouse grown annuals be prepared to protect them if it gets cold. The average date of last frost is April 15 but that is an average - monitor the weather and protect annuals if needed until the end of the month.
Trees and shrubs:
Re-tie climbing plants using biodegradable twine so it will not girdle the stems. Fertilize azaleas, rhododendrons and Japanese pieris with Espoma Holly-tone after the flowers fade. You may also apply a systemic insecticide containing Dinotefuran (Safari) after flowering to control lacebugs if they were present last year - do not apply to plants that are flowering or have yet to flower. Prune early spring flowering shrubs immediately after flowering. Prune conifers now if needed - never remove all of the needles on the branch being pruned if you want it to regrow. Side dress lilacs, clematis and boxwood now with lime if you have not done so in the last 2 years. It is normal for American hollies to shed some leaves this month do not be alarmed. Begin to monitor for pests - aphids are active early in the month.
Begin feeding roses with Espoma Rose-tone and continue through August following label directions. Roses grow best when they receive 1 inch of rain per week adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Begin monitoring for rose slug towards the end of the month this is a common pest in our now use Espoma Earth-tone insect control be sure to spray the undersides of the leaves and repeat at 2 week intervals through June.
Clean out water features and ponds you may begin planting hardy aquatic plants now. Tropical aquatics will languish in cold water - delay planting until the water temperature is 70 degrees.