April is a wonderful time to be in the garden!
- This is the ideal time for bulb planting (except for tulips and hyacinths which should be left until May). Give bulbs a well-drained spot with plenty of sun (although snowflakes and bluebells can cope with shade). Prepare the soil with some compost and bulb fertiliser before planting and keep the soil moist once the bulbs are actively growing. They will appreciate some liquid food during the growing season, and after flowering too. Bulbs also do well in pots. Some recommended bulbs for our climate include snowflakes (Leucojum), bluebells, Freesia, Babiana, Watsonia, jonquils, Cyrtanthus, Lachenalia, species Gladioli and starflowers (Ipheion).
- April is a good time to move shrubs that are in the wrong place. Ensure the ground is moist before you start, then insert a spade to its full depth in a reasonably-sized circle around the shrub, then lever it out of the ground. Water with a seaweed solution and mulch the plant in its new position, and prune back by about a third.
- Seedlings of winter and spring annual flowers can be planted out now, as there will be a good range in the nurseries. Cymbidium orchids will benefit from fortnightly feeding, and violets, azaleas, Camellia, Hibiscus and Rhododendron can be lightly fed with a soluble fertiliser.
- Spring-flowering perennials can be divided and replanted now, and it is an good time to plant out new perennials and shrubs as there will be plenty of time for them to establish before winter sets in. Summer-flowering herbaceous perennials, such as Echinacea and Phlox, can be cut back now, and can be divided and replanted now or this task can be left until late winter/early spring. Cut back climbers which have become rampageous. Lanky zonal and regal Pelargonium also benefit from a hard prune now. The subsequent new growth can be tip-pruned to form a compact shape. Use the prunings to strike news cuttings: this is an excellent time to propagate cuttings from many plants. This is also a good time to divide overcrowded clumps of bromeliads. Weeds should be kept under control to stop them competing with your plants for moisture and nutrients.
- With the cooler weather, we will regain our enthusiasm for vegetables, so check out the seedlings in your local nursery or buy some seeds. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beetroot, broad beans, snow peas, sugar snap peas and regular peas can all go in now. This is a good time to plant some coriander seeds as this herb does best in the cooler months. Don't forget that many vegetables can be grown in large tubs placed in a sunny position and given regular feeding and watering. Spray your citrus trees with Eco Oil to deter the bronze orange beetle, which can ruin your citrus crops in spring.
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