Marigolds and portulaca show their splendor for the entire summer.












What to do in April

Seeds of amaranthus, celosia, marigold (photo at left), portulaca, zinnia, and other warm-season annuals can be sown directly in the beds where they are to grow. Keep seeded area moist until seeds germinate. Mulching will help retain the moisture in the soil longer and will also discourage weed growth. Thin out the seedlings as soon as they have three to five sets of leaves. Surplus plants can cause too much shading which weakens plants.

Transplants of warm-season vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers can be set out now. Any transplant must be acclimated before being planted into the garden. The way to acclimate your transplants is by moving the plants outdoors, out of the direct sun and wind for a few days. Next, move them into partial shade. Complete these steps gradually over the course of a week, then move them into full sun.

For instant color, purchase annual and perennial plants. Select short, compact plants.

Pruning of spring-flowering shrubs should be done soon after flowering. Keep the natural shape of the plant in mind as you prune and avoid excessive cutting except where it is necessary to control size.

Prune back hybrid tea roses as soon as they complete flowering.

In your annual flowerbeds, remove spent flowers and trim back excessive growth. Pinch the spent flowers back to give the plants an opportunity to become established.

Roses have high fertilizer requirements. Use a complete fertilizer for the first application just as a new growth cycle starts following a flowering period.

Applying fertilizer does wonders for rejuvenating annual beds.

Apply a 2-1-1 or 3-1-2 fertilizer to your warm season grasses. Use the same high nitrogen fertilizer for shade trees, evergreens, and groundcovers. Add iron later this month for plants that show chlorosis (yellowing leaves with dark green veins). Sweep iron products off any surface.

Be on the lookout
Continue to spray roses susceptible to black spot using a spray containing a general fungicide such as Funginex or Rose Defense. Use as directed on the label.

Check new tender growth for aphids on annuals and perennials.

Miscellaneous chores
Flower and vegetable seed left over after planting the garden can be saved for the next season by closing the packets with tape or paper clips and storing them in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator until needed.

Check garden hoses and replace them if they are leaking. Sharpen garden tool, oil pruners, and loppers. Scrub pots that you are planning on reusing this year with a solution of one part chlorine bleach to nine parts water.
Continue regular spray programs for fruit and pecan crops. Contact your County Extension Office for a copy of the “Homeowner’s Fruit and Pecan Spray Schedule.”

  (c) 2007 - 2008 Howard County Master Gardeners