Spring is well under way and gardens should have a lot of colour. As the weather starts getting warmer it is important to make sure newly planted trees and shrubs are getting well watered. April can be a cold month and there is still chance of frost or snow. Keep and eye on the weather and if necessary give your tender plants some protection.
As your plants grow so will the weeds. Keep hoeing any germinating weed seedlings and dig out perennial weeds.
Hardy annuals such as Fox Gloves tend to self seed. You can either leave them where they are or move them into other planting spaces. Make sure if you move them they are watered in well.
Train climbing and rambling roses by tying the shoots horizontal. This restricts the sap thereby causing more side shoots to develop along the whole length of the stem which in turn will produce more flowers. If the stem is left to grow up-wards you will only get flowers at the tip of the stem.
The soil will be warming up so herbaceous perennials will show their first shoots of growth. It is therefore the right time to start lifting and dividing over crowded clumps. What a great way to increase your plant stock.
Just because the nurseries have got their stock of bedding plants don’t be seduced into buying these and putting them in the ground. There is still a chance of frost.
PESTS & DISEASES:
Keep an eye out for signs of any other pests and diseases and deal with them straight away to keep control over them. Having a healthy and varied biodiversity in the garden is always a good option. This includes encouraging a variety of wildlife into your garden. These will help keep control of pests and diseases. A good example of this is frogs and hedgehogs that eat slugs, ladybird larvae and hoverflies that will feed on aphids. Keep up with the nematode regime.
Keep black spot on roses under control by spraying with a recommended fungicide. In order to keep black spot at bay this will need to be done at regular intervals.
Also keep an out for aphids. These can be rubbed or hosed off or treated with a spray. Lady birds are predators to aphids. Keeping control on aphids now will help prevent colonies from building up.
Give established lawns spring weed and feed fertilizer.
Mowing will now become a regular task but do not be to eager to cut the lawn very short. Keep the mower setting slightly higher, as the weather gets warmer little by little lower the height.
Dead head daffodils by pinching the flower head just behind the swollen part. If you leave the dead flowers on, the energy will go into trying to produce seed. By pinching the dead flower heads the energy is going back into the bulbs for next year’s flowers. For this to happen successfully the leaves must be left intact for at least six weeks.
Evergreen shrubs can be susceptible to frost damage. If there are any frost-damaged shoots, remove these. Any wayward stems can also be pruned back to healthy buds.
Plants such as Sambucus and Cotinus which are grown for their beautiful colour foliage should be pruned hard now. However, if you would like a larger size plant then leave 2 or 3 string stems.
Early flowering shrubs should be pruned back to strong buds. Chaenomeles should be pruned back to 2 or 3 buds after this year’s flowers have faded. This will encourage flowering for next spring. If left unpruned the plant will just get leafy growth. On over crowded shrubs it is worth pruning out a third of the old growth. This will encourage new shoots from the base.
Lavenders can be given their second prune.
As herbaceous perennials are starting to come into growth, tidy them up by cutting off last year’s dead stems. Do the same with grasses.
All summer flowering bulbs must be planted by the end of this month. If your soil is clay it would be a good idea to add some coarse grit in the planting hole and sit your bulbs on top.
April is a good month to start planting evergreen shrubs and hedges. There is less chance of them being scorched by cold winter winds.
Start planting out hardy annuals such as Sweet Peas
Bare root and root ball plants will no longer be available. Container grown plants are available all year round but the best times to plant these are in spring and autumn. Soak the root ball in the container by immersing in a bucket of water or watering well an hour before planting. Prepare the planting hole and fill with water. Gently push the plant out of the container and loosen some of the roots. Set the root ball into the planting hole making sure that the top of the compost is level with the ground. Work the soil in well around the root ball firming gently. Water in well and mulch to conserve water around the plant.
If you are planning on putting in new plants, try and get them in this month so that they have a chance to settle in with the wet weather and the warming temperatures. It’s the last month for lifting and dividing summer perennials if they are to flower this summer.
In the warmer regions of the country, dahlias can be planted out. These plants are greedy so prepare the planting holes well with lots of organic matter. The tubers should be at least 7.5cm below ground. Put a stake into the ground before placing the tubers in the planting hole. This way you avoid the tuber getting damaged.
RUNWAY PLANTS FOR AUGUST
Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’
Viburnum x juddii
Clematis alpina ‘Frances Rivis’
Clematis ‘Broughton Star’
Dicentra Formosa ‘Bacchanal’
Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’
Fritillaria imperalis ‘Kaiser’