Plant Answers  >  Gardening Calendar: April

Gardening Calendar


PLANT: The spring planting guide for South Central Texas at the PLANTanswers site:

indicates that April is a month to plant the gardener's favorite vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet corn and snap beans and pepper. In April you can plant cucumbers, lima or butter beans, cantaloupe, okra, southern peas, pumpkin, squash, peanuts and watermelon. Protect tender transplants and seedlings with Grow-Web (Plant Guard, ReeMay, Plant Shield) for wind protection, insect avoidance and unexpected cold (4 degree cold protection).

Okra, corn and melon crops can be planted now if the soil has warmed sufficiently (70 degrees F. or higher). Plant hibiscus, bougainvillea, mandevilla and allamanda vines in containers for tropical landscape color. Warm-season annual color can be planted using trailing lantanas, cosmos, zinnias, firebush, copper plant, moss rose (portulaca), purslane, Dahlberg daisy, purple fountaingrass, and pentas for the sunny locations. For shade areas choose from begonias, impatiens, caladiums, and coleus. In heavily shaded parts of the landscape where grass is difficult to maintain, choose one of the well-adapted groundcover plants such as English or Algerian ivy, Asian jasmine, or mondograss. If deer are a problem in your landscape, try one of the surefire solutions offered at:

Plant caladium tubers after mid-month. Caladiums are tropical in origin and won't grow well until the soil temperature is warm. Impatiens, fibrous begonias and coleus are summertime favorites for shade.
It is a good time to re-sod or plant grass. If you have any shady or semi-shaded areas YOU MUST USE a St. Augustinegrass, zoysia grass, or a ground cover. The BEST; THE ONLY St. Augustine which should be planted in this area is FLORATAM ST. AUGUSTINEGRASS. See a complete description at:

PRUNE: Prune pillar or climbing roses, wisteria, and Carolina jessamine as soon as they have finished flowering. Vigorous landscape shrubs will need frequent pruning. These include elaeagnus, pyracantha, ligustrum and photinia. As spring-flowering shrubs (spiraea, quince and Indian Hawthorne) complete their blooming, do any necessary pruning. Prune to retain the natural shape of the plant. Begin mowing the lawn at the correct height which is bermuda and zoysia (1 - 1 1/4 inch), St. Augustine (2 inches) and buffalograss (3 inches).

FERTILIZE: Use a pre-plant application of a slow-release fertilizer analysis at the rate of 3 pounds per 100 square feet of garden planting area. April is the ideal time to fertilize lawn grasses AFTER the lawn grass has been mowed twice. Slow release fertilizers are best because they feed throughout the growing season and do not leach (wash) into the ground water. Continue fertilizing pansies and other cool-season flowering annuals to prolong their bloom. Use one pound or one-cup of the slow-release fertilizer per 100 square feet (10 ft. X 10 ft.) as a sidedress application.
Use a water-soluble complete-and-balanced (20-20-20) plant food for the first four waterings of recently planted annuals and perennials.

PRUNE: Prune pillar or climbing roses as soon as they have finished flowering. This is true for spring-flowering shrubs such as azaleas, spiraea, quince and Indian Hawthorne. Prune to retain the natural shape of the plant by removing branches down to the juncture of the next largest branch. This gives the plant a natural look rather than a hedged appearance.

ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: Weeds can literally take over a lawn this month if they are not controlled. Frequent close mowings, hand-pulling or the use of a herbicide usually provide adequate control. To control weeds in bermudagrass, use MSMA or DSMA after as temperatures have risen above 80 degrees F.. For weed control in St. Augustine, use Greenlight Wipe-Out or Ortho Weed-B-Gon for Southern Grasses. Do not mow before or for 5 days after you apply the treatment. To control nut-grass or nutsedge, use Manage. Read and follow label instructions! BEFORE the applications are made. Be on the lookout for unusual plant material at regional sales such as Viva Botanica at the San Antonio Botanical Center. This is the month and year to observe wildflower excellence in Texas. Travel to Wildseed Farms ( near Fredericksburg to see all of the bluebonnet colors on display. Aphids populations can become excessive on new growth of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals----especially oaks, roses and tomatoes. Control with any contact, general-purpose insecticide. Snails, slugs and pillbugs can devour the tender growth of young plants. Lightly dust young plants and the area directly adjacent to the plants with an insecticidal dust. Snails and slugs can be treated with baits. Fireants can eat young plants, especially tomatoes and eggplant. Use the two-step approach: treatments of visible mounds and area-wide bait applications. Foliage can be devoured by looping (bodies loop as they crawl) caterpillars of all types. The biological worm spray containing Bacillus thuringiensis (also known as B.t.) is the only reliable control. Use two teaspoons of a liquid detergent (Joy, Ivory Liquid, etc.) per gallon of spray to cause a uniform wetting of the sprayed surface.

ODD JOBS: Thinning vegetables is one of the most important follow-up activities in gardening. Most gardeners use more seed than necessary for a healthy plant stand. Having too many plants in an area is just as bad, if not worse, than having too few. To find the exact spacing, see the first URL address (about EarthKind Gardening) given in this section.

· Maintain your spray program for modern roses. Funginex and Orthene are the favorites.
· If you want to collect the bluebonnet seeds, wait until the pods are full size and some yellowing or browning shows. Collect the whole plant and put them upside down in a brown paper grocery sack. Store the plants in the hottest, driest place available so the pods will finish drying to pop open. The best seed will be loose in the bottom of the bag when planting time arrives this fall.
· Let your bougainvillea and hibiscus get root bound and stressed between waterings for best blooms. Hibiscus food works well for container plants or use a soluble fertilizer when you water. They are full-sun plants.

Fruits and Nuts
· There is still time to thin late-season peaches, apples and plums. Thin to one fruit per 4-6 inches of stem. Yes, it’s hard to do but must be done in order to produce large, blemish-free fruit.
· Fertilize pecan trees in early April with 19-5-9 slow-release lawn fertilizer (one pound per inch of trunk diameter) to encourage good nut production. Apply thinly along the drip line so you don’t burn your grass.
· Fruit trees must be sprayed with an insecticide every week to ten days to keep most of the fruit blemish free. See the Cooperative Extension Fruit and Nut Tree Spray Guide. Organic gardeners use Neem oil and sulphur.

· Remove the pansies, snapdragons, dianthus, calendulas, kale and other winter plants when they get ragged.
· If you want to repot some plants, remove the root ball from the container and cut a 1 inch strip of soil and roots from it. Put the root ball back in the container and fill the new space at the edge with high quality potting soil or compost.
· For instant color, get some annuals that are already started. Pinch off any flowers and buds to encourage new growth and compactness.

Shade Trees and Shrubs
· Do not prune oak trees now unless a tree wound dressing is applied. This is prime oak wilt season. If you make any kind of wound from a trimmer or mower on an oak tree, paint it quickly with some type of latex paint.
· You can still plant new shrubs and trees this month if they are container-grown. Use generous amounts of mulch on the surface over the roots and water as the soil dries…usually about once per week through the hot summer.

Turf Grass
· Don’t start the automatic sprinkler system unless we haven’t had rain for at least 2 weeks.
· If your St. Augustine is a little chlorotic (yellow), try six tablespoons of iron sulfate dissolved in one gallon of water used as a spray. It’s not a cure-all, just a quick picker-upper. Green Sand will also work

· Side-dress the tomatoes and peppers with half a cup of slow-release lawn fertilizer when the first fruit sets and every three weeks afterwards.
· Onions are ready to harvest when the green tops fall over. Pull them up and let them dry on the garden surface for two days before collecting them.
· Plant okra, eggplant, green beans, sweet corn, radishes, carrots, melons and southern peas later in the month.
· Mulch around all the veggies with leaves, straw, or hay to a depth of 3-4 inches to deter weeds and keep the soil from drying out.
· Harvest potatoes anytime after they start blooming. If the weather is wet, do not leave them in the ground or the tubers will rot.
· Any seeds left over from veggies or flowers can be saved for next year. Seal the packet with a staple or paper clip, put them in a jar with a lid and place them in the frig. They’ll keep for quite a while.


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