April 2015 Gardening Calendar
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The winter annuals should continue to bloom well this month, but we usually plant the summer annuals sometime in April. There is a long list of choices, including zinnias, begonias, penta, moss roses, purslane, cosmos, coleus and caladiums.
Zinnias lead the list. The large versions, such as Dreamland, Cactus and California Giants, make good cut flowers and attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Plant medium and smaller selections in containers, or use them as borders in the flower garden. Zinnias require full sun.
In the shade, plant begonias, penta, coleus and caladiums. Pentas are especially desirable as a summer-long bloom producer in a container on the shady patio. They are available in red, pink, white and lavender. Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to pentas as a nectar source.
Milkweed -- Asclepias species -- are not in the same league as zinnias or pentas for summer color, but the Monarch butterflies find them attractive as a nectar source. Milkweeds are also the only plant on which Monarchs will lay their eggs. Monarch caterpillars need to eat milkweed foliage to gain the internal chemicals that make them unattractive to predators. Plant milkweed in April to help increase the threatened Monarch populations.
In the vegetable garden, April is tomato planting time. The recommended varieties include Bobcat, Valley Cat, Tycoon, Tigress, Phoenix, Solar Fire, 444, Celebrity and BHN 968 -- also known as Cherry Surprise. Allow 3 feet between plants and fertilize generously. Use one quarter cup per plant of slow-release lawn fertilizer at planting and every three weeks following. Tomatoes also require watering every other day. Plant tomatoes in full sun.
It is also time to plant green beans, cucumbers, summer squash and peppers in the garden. Plant okra later in the month.
It will be time to fertilize the lawn by the end of the month. Use a slow-release lawn fertilizer, such as 19-5-9, according to labelled instructions. In the meantime, keep the winter weeds pulled or mowed to keep them from setting seed. If you have a lot of winter weeds put a note on your calendar on or around Sept 1 of next year to apply a pre-emergent herbicide, which prevents the next year‘s winter weeds.
Last month was time to apply Amaze, XL or Crabgrass Preventer to prevent sandburs. If you apply it in early April, it will prevent some but not all of the sandburs. Any reduction may be worth it if sandburs are a major problem in your landscape.
It is not too late to prune the freeze-killed foliage in your landscape. If you still have leaves on the lawn, run over them with the mower several times, so they will decompose quicker. The decomposing leaves add nutrients and organic material to the lawn.
Bluebonnets should be in full bloom this month. Remember, they and other naturalized wildflowers, must be allowed to mature their seed if they are going to be back next year. Don’t be too quick to cut down wildflowers’ remnants after the bloom period is over.
If you have American goldfinches at your thistle feeder or sunflower seed feeder, they should start showing some of their golden plumage this month. Lesser goldfinches are colorful and present all year, but American goldfinches migrate back north in May. The hummingbirds are back in the area. Supplement their blooming nectar sources with a sugar water feeder.
Calvin Finch Ph.D. is a Horticulturist and Urban Water Program Director with the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources.