Amazing April – Mother nature returns from her winter vacation. Time to get out and help her show the wonders she can provide.
1. Feed Azaleas once they have completed bloom. Use a special azalea-camellia fertilizer or a complete and balanced fertilizer such as 8-8-8. The shallow rooted azaleas are easily injured by over-fertilization. Make light and frequent applications. Safe formula One tablespoon of fertilizer per foot of height of established plant or apply approximately 1/4 – 1/2 cup per sq. yard of soil area. Repeat applications monthly – May, June, September and October. Prune winter damaged plants just prior to new growth. Future winter damage may occur with summer heat stress with the splitting of major stems near soil line.
2. April – Plant Lawn Grasses. As nights begin to warm and spring rains become more available, lawn grasses begin to grow. New lawns may be planted and old lawns improved. There are several grasses from which to choose; yet, each has its advantages and disadvantages. Thus, selection should be based on personal desired in a grass and homegrounds growing condition.
Plant sprigs and sod of improved Bermudas, St..Augustine, Centipede and Zoysias, and seed of common Bermuda. Centipede grass may also be sown from seed, but germination is slow and erratic.
3. Caladiums for Summer Shade – April is caladium planting time. Caladiums, whether in pots or shaded garden beds, add a vivid richness to any summer garden. The caladium is a warm weather plant and does best planted now after the soil warms up or when temperatures average 70 degrees or more. Even though caladiums like warm temperatures, they prefer cool moist, well-drained soils in the landscape. The tubers should be planted approximately one and one-half to two inches deep and from 12 to 18 inches apart in loose, organic soil.
4. Other Seasonal Plants for Shaded Garden may include:
Ferns – native or cultivated ferns always add a touch of garden coolness and freshness. Ferns love shaded garden pockets with generous summer watering and humidity. Plant in loose, Organic rich soil and use as a backdrop for the above colorful annuals.
Coleus – fast growing annuals with colorful foliage, easily propagated from cuttings and very available at nurseries. Impatiens (Sultana) – clear, bright colored blooms for the summer shade.
Bedding Begonias – for mass plantings, borders or containers.
5. Geraniums – April is geranium planting time, and these popular plants are excellent for color masses in the garden. Obtain sound, healthy plants. Locate the plants in a rich, loamy, well-drained soil. Several inches of coarse peatmoss spaded into the top six inches of soil will help the plants tolerate summer conditions. Allow ample growing room for each part. Even though small at the time of planting, healthy plants will fill, a 12 to 15 inch spacing between plants. Geraniums, which are available in many new and exciting varieties, tend to prefer a partially shaded location, often-times being damaged by severe summer sun and heat. This is not to say that they do well in full shade. Locate the plantings where they are protected from the heat of afternoon sun, yet where they have a morning sun or sun for good flower production.
6. Annuals to Plant in April include: Ageratium, Dusty Miller, Amaranth, Verbena, Cleome, Morning Glory, Cockscomb (Celosia), Moss Rose, Coleus, Petunia, Sunflower, Zinnia, Cosmos, Gourds, Gloriosa Daisy, Salvia, Periwinkle (Vinca) and Marigold.
7. Groom Landscape Plants- Prune overgrown, spring flowering trees and shrubs once have have completed, bloom. Think in terms of “thinning” rather than “hacking” the plant back.
Cut spring flowering annuals such as sweet pea, larkspur, pansies and calendula blooms often to encourage new growth and more bloom.
Falling and yellowing leaves of magnolia, photinia, hollies, gardenia, and cleyera is normal at this season a sinew growth and foliage comes forth.
Winter injured plants should be watered during dry periods. Be patient in cutting the plant back, cutting only dead wood and damaged foliage prior to spring growth. Green stems may leaf out again. Prune back groundcover plantings such as Monkeygrass and Asiatic Jasmine which has been damaged by cold to encourage a new and vigorous surge of new growth,
8. Cannas – Easy Summer Blooms – The summer canna is easily grown in rich soil in part shade or full sun. New varieties with compact growth and large vivid blooms have made this old plant all the more popular and more beautiful.
Canna Leaf-Roller Prevent this insect from feeding on the rolled leaves of cannas.
9. Continue to plant ornamental plants. Late spring planting is certainly successful if quality plants are obtained and care is taken in planting and caring for the plant during its first summer season.
10. Watch for and Control Spring Insects. Scale, whiteflies on gardenia, holly, camellia and ligustrum; aphids on new growth and cutworms on tender new plants; eastern tent caterpillars in trees and large shrubs such as plum, pecan, etc.
11. Complete spring fertilization of lawn grasses and plants if you haven’t done so.
As the new gardening season gets underway, don’t forget to use grass clippings, vegetable tops, leaves and other organic matter available for the compost pile. This will provide excellent material later for potting soil, flower beds and other garden needs.
TIMELY GARDENING QUESTIONS ANSWERED:
1. May I plant wildflowers now?
No. Spring and summer wildflower seed are planted in early fall – September into October. select the ones you like now while they are in bloom and order seed for a fall planting. Many perennial wildflowers are being offered as transplants in nurseries and may be planted now from transplants.
2. Why have all my German or Bearded Iris turned white?
Bearded iris do not change colors. This iris likes cold winter and mild summers, therefore, some varieties do not repeat bloom well in the East Texas area. The white tends to be well and continues to repeat. This is not to say beautiful colored varieties don’t bloom here — they do; yet some do not.
3. What is the best way to grow Hosta in East Texas?
Hosta, a more northern plant suffers from our intense summer heat, therefore, must be grown in a shaded garden bed in loose organic soil with a mulch to keep its root system cool. Water in summer. Hosta can be grown successfully in East Texas.
4. Why isn’t my crepe myrtle leafing out?
Winter freeze damage will kill many crepe myrtle. Unusual cold, plus drought at the time of a freeze will cause this unusual kill. Many plants will return with sucker growth from the roots. Remove all dead wood and encourage the new root growth.
5. How can I encourage my Bougainvillea and Chinese hibiscus to recover and bloom from over wintering indoors?
Place the plants out-of-doors now in full sun. Prune halfway back to encourage new growth which in turn will produce flowers and feed with a high-phosphorus fertilizer.
6. How can I encourage my dogwood to flower better next year?
Feed now with an application of super phosphate. Plan to water if possible in August when the plant begins to form flower buds.