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. Days are cooling down and the weather can be unpredictable. Moreover, have you noticed how many glorious public holidays are coming up in April? That means loads of time to fool around in the garden!
Get ready for Winter and plant for Spring
- Remove all spent summer annuals and plant winter and spring- flowering annuals like Poppies, Pansies, Petunias, Primulas, Cineraria and Violas. Choose from the wonderful colour and variety available on the seedling tables at Lifestyle now – ready to be planted in your well prepared beds, pots and hanging baskets. Look out for cutworm and snails around seedlings and place bait. Feed with an organic Seedling Food. Deadhead regularly to encourage flowering.
- Plant winter and spring-flowering bulbs this month as soon as they become available. Prepare soil by mixing in compost and bone meal or vermicast before planting. Feed with a flower bulb food immediately after planting and at monthly intervals throughout the growing season. 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 add generous amounts of compost to planting holes. Keep the divided clumps to a fair size to enable the plant to recover in time for next season. Water well.
- Give roses a final feed of 3:1:5 and water twice a week if rainfall is low. Spray preventatively every fortnight against fungal disease and insect infestation. Check for red spidermite. Catch up on your rose care skills by reading our Rose care guide.
- This is an ideal time to plant new rose bushes, shrubs and trees as their roots will be well established and they will burst forth with new foliage in spring.
- New hedges should also ideally be planned and planted now. Good options for a hedge include Buxus, Abelia, Duranta, Camelia, Cuphea, Freylinia, Westringia, Viburnum, Nandina and Pittosporum. ‘Edible’ hedges like Bay Laurel, Rosemary, Num-num, Quinces and Pomegranates are very popular and trendy. The very knowledgeable advisors at our Outside Info desk will be more than happy to assist you in your choice of hedge.
- Prune evergreen and hardy summer-and autumn-flowering hedges and shrubs once they have finished flowering.
- Over sow deciduous lawn, like Kikuyu and LM Lawn with cool season lawn seed and water well.
- Autumn 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 leaf mold. Mind that you don’t use diseased leaves though.
Your 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, Cabbage, Red Cabbage, Kale, Kohlrabi, Celery, Chinese Cabbage, Carrots, Leeks, Lettuce, Onions, Parsnips, Peas, Radish, Spinach, Swiss Chard and Turnips.
Herbs: Parsley, Chervil, Chives, Garlic chives, Coriander, Caraway and Rocket
Flowers: African Daisy, Alyssum, Aquilegia, Antirrhinum, Bellis, Calendula, Cineraria, Dianthus, Diascia, Gazania, Godetia, Linaria, Nemesia, Pansy, Phlox, Fairy Primulas, Petunias, Poppies, Stocks, Viola and Virginian Stocks.
Plant your Sweet Peas seeds now in a sunny spot in the garden for spring fragrance and joy!
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 to give them a good start. 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?
- Keep citrus trees moist and replenish the mulch layer around the trees if needed.
- Garlic bulbs can still be planted in April. Plant in full sun in beds or containers with well-draining soil. Click |HERE| to read all about planting and growing your own garlic.
- Divide and re-plant or plant new strawberry and rhubarb plants.
- Harvest the last of your potato crop and summer veg now and pull up spent plants.
- 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.
- Bring colour indoors and onto the patio with the Phalaenopsis Orchid (Moth Orchid), Cyclamens or Chrysanthemums available in striking colours.
- As temperatures start to drop, decrease the watering of indoor plants. Click |HERE| to read the Benefits of Indoor plants.
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)