Gardening Advice | April
Our resident plant expert, Phil McCann, shares his top tips as you head out into the garden this April.
Top April Gardening Tips:
- Feed roses
- Keep weeding
- Love your shrubs
- Sow hardy annuals
- Plant onion sets
- Check ties
- Watch for frost
- Increase watering
- Feed houseplants
- Patch the lawn
Overview of April:
It's full steam ahead now it’s April. The bank holidays early in the month allow many to get stuck into dusting off the cobwebs and bringing their gardens to life. For many others, it is a chance to sow more, prick out, pot up and plant. It’s also worth keeping a close eye on the weather forecasts as frost is usual and a flake or two of snow cannot be ruled out.
Roses are really putting on lots of new growth and need a helping hand. Nip out any dead branches (no shoots and are generally blackened or straw coloured), cutting back to a strong shoot. Add mycorrhizal fungi formulated specifically for your roses (GLG1246). It’s easy to apply - a simple dusting on the soil surface and a quick flick with a hand fork does the trick. Remove weeds, mulch with well-rotted manure or homemade compost and away they go. Oh, keep any mulch away from the main stem. A couple of centimetres clearance is fine.
Sure as Easter eggs are Easter eggs, weeds are growing fast. Leave annual weeds to flower and set seed and you are in trouble for years to come. Hoe or pull them out. They can then be put into your compost bins. Perennial weeds need digging out as simply tugging at the top growth leaves roots in the soil to regrow. Don’t put any perennial weeds in the compost heap as they will regrow. Keep on top of weeding and the gardening year will be smoother.
Love your shrubs:
Winter has nipped at a few branches so cut them out. Cut to where new growth is strong. Feed with mycorrhizal fungi formulated for shrubs. Same as your rose - sprinkle and flick into the surface of the soil. Whilst down there, have a good weed around and ensure the soil isn’t compacted after all the winter rain and snow. Your shrubs will then be ready to take on the new growing season with verve.
Sow hardy annuals:
These are flowering plants that grow, flower and set seed in one growing year. Sown now, straight into the soil where you want them to flower, most flower in summer. Hardy annuals are the easiest and cheapest way to grow your own flower displays. Rake over the soil, pick out any large stones and debris, scatter the seed, lightly rake over and stand back. Little green dots of seedlings usually appear within a fortnight and they survive whatever the weather throws at them.
Plant onion sets:
It's getting near to your last chance to pop onion sets into prepared soil in your veg patch. Sets are immature onions with all the potential to grow into fully fledged onions. Easy. Use the tip of a trowel to make a depression in the soil, nuzzle the set in and cover round with soil leaving the wispy tip of the set above ground. And that’s it. Harvest around August.
Trees are coming into growth now and trunks will be swelling. If you staked and secured trees a year or so ago it’s a good idea to check them again now. Ties that rub trunks will create entry wounds for diseases. Loose ties, having moved in the gales of autumn and winter, will be doing no job at all. Tighten or loosen wherever necessary.
Watch for frost:
Keep an eye on the weather forecasts and protect plants if required. Even seedlings in greenhouses can freeze on particularly cold nights. A simple layer of newspaper will keep a degree or two of frost off the leaves but remember to whip it off in the morning. A few cloches placed over new plantings will sort out the veg plot.
Plants need warmth, light and water to grow. Spring brings two of those to your houseplants, and you need to supply the water. Start to increase the amount and frequency of watering to your houseplants now. Always allow pots to drain before putting them back into any pot holders. Otherwise drained water will be taken back into the compost, making it soggy and suffocating roots.
Feed your houseplants:
Established houseplants can also look hungry at this time of year. The compost is running low on nutrients and all the new, strong growth puts a demand on any feed. A simple drop or two of GLG30159 will boost the growth and health of all your plants. If you have large houseplants that have been growing in containers for years, carefully scrape off the top centimetre of tired compost and add a fresh layer. It will look better, add a few nutrients for the roots and increase drainage. All good for your plants.
Patch the lawn:
There will be the inevitable patches on your lawn requiring some maintenance. You can buy turf, cut to size and slap that in (scrape the soil first to ensure the levels are all correct) or you can sow seeds. Again, scrape the soil as patches are usually compacted. Sow the seed, I like to sprinkle a handful of compost over the top, firm down to ensure the seed is in contact with the soil and, if dry, use a watering can to wet the lot. The lawn seed will quickly germinate and knit with the surrounding area.