What to do in your garden this April

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Now that Easter weekend excitement is over it is time for our much anticipated annual plant sale from 14 April to 3 May. 

"Every year, at the end of autumn, we drastically reduce our stock holding of plant material in preparation for the cold, wet months ahead," says Nick Stodel, MD of Stodels Nurseries.

"It's actually an excellent time to plant" he says, "as during the cold winter months the plants have time to settle in and develop root systems before the heat of summer arrives."

On your to-do list for April

Plant and sow:

- Plant spring-flowering bulbs as soon as the weather has cooled. Try indigenous varieties like tritonia, lachenalia, ixias, sparaxis, babianas, watsonias and chincherinchee and exotics like ranunculus, anemone, hyacinths, daffodils and narcissus.

- Sow or plant winter- and spring-flowering seedlings like African daisies, sweet peas, Virginian stocks, cinerarias, snapdragons, lobelias, delphiniums, dianthus, nemesia, pansies, salvia, violas, scabiosa and Flanders poppies.

- Plant out strawberry runners and cover the soil beneath the plants with a layer of straw to prevent the plants from rotting.

- How about some winter veggies like broccoli, broad beans, peas, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, onions and turnips?

Feed:

- Mow your lawn a little shorter and feed it with a potassium-rich fertiliser to strengthen it before the winter months.

- Feed azaleas, camellias and tea bushes with a handful of shake and grow. Mulch with compost and keep well watered.

- Container plants should be fed with Nitrosol to give them a boost before winter.

- Feed sweet peas with 2:3:2 to encourage healthy growth and abundant flowers in the months ahead. Pinch out side-shoots to encourage upward growth.

- For citrus trees, feed a handful of Magnesium Sulphate. Inspect the leaves carefully for signs of citrus psylla or scale.

Prune:

- Prune evergreen hedges, summer-flowering shrubs and overgrown climbers.

- Deadhead roses to encourage a last autumn flush.

- Cut back dahlias to 20cm above soil level. Wait two weeks before lifting the bulbs and storing them in a cool, dry place. The bulbs can be replanted in August.

Indigenous winter winners

- April is the ideal time to sow seeds of indigenous winter-flowering plants. This is a fun exercise to share with your children and is one of the most cost-effective ways to add masses of colour to your garden in the cooler months ahead.

Why not try planting some Namaqualand daisiestocreate a spectacular show in winter. Simply buy a packet of mixed daisy seeds and sprinkle them directly into the soil.

Remember to even out the soil area where you will be sowing and rake it lightly prior to sprinkling the seeds on top. Keep the soil moist until germination and don’t weed the area until your daisies are well established.

Indoor Plant Focus

Gerbera daisy plants are one of the most popular and frequently delivered flowers across the world. They are available in a range of bright and bold colours, including red, orange, yellow, white, cream, purple and pink.

Here’s what you need to know about caring for Gerberas:

Watering - Don’t give them too much water as the roots will start to rot. Try misting them with a water sprayer to keep them looking fresh at the end of the season they will wilt, but they will not die, as they are perennial. Remember: Gerberas are vulnerable to soil diseases and too much water results in root and crown root.

Temperature - The best growing conditions occur in mild temperature areas, where minimum night temperatures are consistently higher than 6 °C. Gerberas are not adversely affected by maximum temperatures and can tolerate harsh sunlight. The relative humidity should be an average of 65%.

Herb of the Month - Rocket

Rocket originated in southern and central Europe (where it is known as Arugula or Rucola). It is a hardy annual herb, but it self-sows and is likely to come up every year in your garden once you have planted it.

Sow rocket seeds1cm deep in rows 30cm apart. Water well and keep the soil moist to prevent the plant from going to seed too quickly.

All Images: Supplied

Pest Patrol

It’s time to start preparing for the inevitable onslaught of garden invaders. They may be tiny, but they can cause serious havoc to your plants and soil. Here’s what you need to know to gain the upper hand when they strike.

Snails and slugs love the youngest, tender leaves on your new plantings, so remember to scatter a few snail bait pellets around when sowing seeds or planting new seedlings.

Alternatively, place cardboard collars (made from a 'slice' of a toilet roll inner) around all your new seedlings to prevent any snails or slugs from getting up close to those new leaves.

To read more visit our website or visit one of our Garden Centres to speak to any of our many horticulturists.

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