Your April Gardening Guide
April is a very colourful time in the garden with autumn foliage covering trees in rich hues of gold, red, maroon, plum and amber. The weather can be unpredictable and the last of the rains in Gauteng might interfere with time to spend in the garden, however there is still a lot to do in preparation for winter and, ultimately, spring.
General April Garden Tasks
- Plant winter and spring- flowering annuals like Poppies, Pansies, Petunias, Primulas, Ornamental kale and Violas in prepared beds. Look out for cutworm and snails around seedlings and place bait. Feed with an organic Seedling Food.
- Plant the last of the winter and spring-flowering bulbs this month. Water deeply every 4 days.
- Keep Gardenias well-watered now to prevent bud drop. Gardenias form their buds until late autumn and they open when temperatures start rising in late spring. Lack of water will cause the buds to drop before they open.
- Give acid-loving plants like Hydrangeas, Azaleas and Camellias a dressing of acid-compost.
- Lift and divide summer- flowering perennials such as Agapanthus, Hemerocallis, Iris, Arums and Cannas. Cut their foliage back by one third and replenish planting holes with compost. Keep the divided clumps to a fair size, so that the plant can recover in time for next season. Water well.
- Deadhead rose bushes and give a final feed of 3:1:5. Water fortnightly if rainfall is low. Spray preventatively against fungal disease.
- Prune evergreen and summer-flowering hedges and shrubs. This is an ideal time to plant new hedges and shrubs as their roots will be well established and they will burst forth with new foliage in spring.
- This is the perfect time to start a compost heap or invest in a compost bin and use all disease-free prunings, old spent plants and leaves to make your own wholesome compost. Speed up the process by adding compost activator.
- Start collecting all the fallen autumn leaves and use as a mulch or add to the compost heap. Alternatively collect leaves in black plastic bags and leave to decompose into wonderful leave mould. Mind that you don’t use diseased leaves though.
What to Plant in April
Think ahead and plant the following now for colour during the drab winter months:
- Hypoestes aristata (Ribbon Bush)
- Aloe spp (Aloes) – some of the new hybrid Aloes have a longer or different flowering time and can, if planned and grouped properly, ensure colour from autumn right through winter.
- Leptospermum scoparium ‘Cherry Brandy’ (Australian Tea bush)
- Euryops virgineus (Honey Daisy)
- Camellia japonica (Common Camellia)
- Erica spp (Heather)
- Azalea spp (Azalea)
- Leucospermum spp (Pincushion)
- Protea spp (Sugarbush)
- Kniphofia praecox (Red-hot poker)
April Sowing Guide
Ensure a continuous harvest and beautiful winter colour by sowing your favourites of the following now:
- Vegetables: Asian greens, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Red Cabbage, Kale, Celery, Chinese Cabbage, Carrots, Leeks, Lettuce, Onions, Parsnip, Peas, Radish, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Turnips. Click |HERE| for more tips on growing your Winter veggies.
- Herbs: Parsley, Chives, Garlic chives, Coriander, Rocket
- Flowers: Namaqualand Daisy, Alyssum, Antirrhinum, Bellis, Calendula,Escholtzia, Carnation, Chrysanthemum multicaule, Dianthus, Diascia, Felicia, Gazania, Linaria, Mesembryanthemum, Nemesia, Pansy, Phlox, Primula malacoides, Stocks, Sweetpea, Verbena, Viola, Virginian Stocks
In the Food Garden
- Plant winter vegetable and herbs seedlings out into prepared beds when they are strong enough – as a rule of thumb when they have four true leaves. Plant with bone meal and feed with seedling food. Mulch well and keep moist.
- Do a final harvesting of annual herbs. Dig up what’s left and add to the compost heap. Some herb plants, like comfrey, borage and yarrow will speed up the decomposing process and add precious nutrients to the compost.
- This is a good month to plant deciduous fruit trees like peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots. If space is a problem, why not try your hand at the art of espalier?
- Feed citrus trees with 3:1:5 and a handful of Epsom salts. Water well. Repeat in July.
- Garlic bulbs can still be planted in April. Plant in full sun in beds or containers with well-draining soil.
- Now is a good time to have some fun and grow your own mushrooms. Lifestyle Home Garden stocks a variety of mushroom kits to experiment with.
- Divide and re-plant or plant new strawberry and rhubarb plants.
Indoor Plants for April
- Bring colour indoors with the Phalaenopsis Orchid (Moth Orchid), available in striking colours. The new mini and midi Phalaenopsis are perfect gifts. Also called the ‘Beginner’s Orchid’, it’s hardy and easy to grow indoors.
- As temperatures start to drop, decrease the watering of indoor plants.