Tips for April Gardening
April is National Garden Month! Let’s celebrate it by getting that garden going!
At this time of the year at the garden center we are always asked, ‘ Is it too early to plant summer annuals?” The sunny warm days of late April and early May have us excited about our gardens but cool nighttime temperatures have us questioning what and when we can plant. Seeing the beginnings of summer annuals at our local garden centers doesn’t help either! It’s like a when you were a kid and desert sat out on the table but couldn’t be eaten until after dinner! It can be tortuous!!
So what can you do?
First thing to do is check out the condition of your beds and pots that you want to plant for the new season. Take out any roots or dead plants left over from last season and loosen up the soil. If in pots, you don’t have to remove all the old soil. Remove about half of the old soil and add in new and mix together. If your soil does not contain any fertilizer, you can sprinkle in some granular organic fertilizer at this time as well. Note the sun conditions in all the areas you wish to plant. It is best to check at varying times of the day as the afternoon sun is much stronger than in the morning.
Next, think about where you want to plant. The frost date in southern New Jersey is around mid May. If you absolutely can’t wait till then, keep a few things in mind. Generally things on the ground freeze first. Planting your pots before your garden beds may be a good trade off if you have that panting urge. Potted planters usually sit up off the ground so they can be somewhat buffered from the effects of a late season freeze if we have one. If you are on the beach, remember the wind! Those cool spring winds off the ocean can really damage or kill plants very quickly.
Lastly, what to plant? Some summer annuals are better equipped to handle chillier nights. Flowering annuals such as geraniums, osteospermum, bidens, scaevola and verbena can take the spring chill. Plants such as angelonia, vinca, lantana, impatiens, coleus and sweet potato vine are plants that you really need to wait on, as cold temps can damage leaves and new growth or kill them outright. Tropicals such as the popular mandevilla and hibiscus are plants that don’t want to see nighttime temperatures below about 55 degrees. Perennial flowers actually prefer the chillier nights so it’s a good time to think about adding or refreshing your perennials while you wait on warmer temps for those popular annuals.
We know how tempting it can be at this time of year to get out there and plant. Use these early weeks to your advantage! The right preparation, planning and thought can make all the difference in the garden.
Still want more information about your spring garden, give us a call at Country Greenery, 609-465-2694, or drop in to see us.