Contributing Gardening Editor Marianne Alexander reveals what to plant this month and highlights essential chores you’ll need to do to keep your garden looking gorgeous
What to plant in April?
Ensure you’ll have colour in your garden in the months ahead by planting these varieties now:
- Plant the last of your spring-flowering bulbs like anemones, daffodils, ranunculus and bluebells (except for tulips). Plant Dutch iris bulbs in pots amongst spring-flowering annuals. Plant chasmanthe (above) for winter colour.
- Plant new trees and shrubs as well as winter and spring seedlings.
- Add petunias to the garden in summer-rainfall areas.
- Sow seeds of spring-flowering annuals like calendulas, Californian poppies and cornflowers in situ.
Garden chores to do this month
- Add the last of the spent summer bedding plants to the compost heap.
- Oversow lawns which get frosted. Aerate compacted lawns every few years using a garden fork driven in at about 15cm intervals to a depth of 10cm. Water in superphosphate.
- Split large clumps of rhizomatous and bulbous clump-forming plants like watsonias, wild garlic, dietes (wild iris) and agapanthus (Here’s how to divide agapanthus step-by-step). Divide overcrowded or tired-looking groundcovers and perennials like gaura, perennial lobelia and phlox; replant the younger outer growth in well prepared soil. In South Africa’s winter rainfall areas and areas with heavy frost, wait until early spring to do so.
- Clean out water features. (If you’d love to add a water feature to your garden, check out our gardening image gallery for inspiration.)
- Feed citrus trees, aloes and succulents; water in the dry interior and winter rainfall areas.
- Feed roses in warmer regions. Deadhead spent blooms and use a preventative spray for downy mildew during cool, damp periods. Here are some more expert tips on caring for your roses in April.
April’s also the ideal time to take and root cuttings
Take hardwood cuttings of shrubs like hibiscus, abelia and hydrangeas, as well as cuttings with a heel (those with a piece of the parent stem attached) from lavender, heliotrope and pentas.
Tip: Take a healthy cutting and trim just below a node.
Root your cuttings in a free-draining soil mix with a good amount of sand.
Tip: Instead of buying commercial rooting hormones you can use a weak solution of water and honey instead. Alternatively make a tea of the bark of willow; it contains auxins (a class of plant hormones) which stimulate growth.
In cold areas, you could also take cuttings of frost-prone plants like begonias, impatiens, iresine, coleus and plectranthus and herbs like mint and root them in glass jars of water (left).