April In The Garden

April is perhaps the busiest season of the entire year in the garden.  There’s so much to do!  Here are a few tips and tricks to get your garden restarted after the long winter!

Camellias

Pruning Camellias is best done after they bloom but since all Camellias bloom at different times, you can safely do it before the plant starts putting on new growth.  Camellias do not have to be pruned if they are planted in the right spot.  If you do have the need to prune your Camellias, you can do it safely in April.

Spraying Your Camellias

Tea Scale and Mites are the two insects that can be troublesome for Camellias.  But both are easy to keep under control if you do your preventative homework.  We recommend using a horticultural oil spray or Neem Oil spray in early spring and again in the fall.  This will take care of adult insects as well as ‘crawler’ Scale and Mites as they emerge.  If you already have existing scale or mites, you may have to treat them once and then again in 2-3 weeks.

When you are spraying for Scale or Mites, it’s very important to thoroughly saturate the underside of the leaves as well as the upper as they make their home under the leaves.   We recommend using an Ortho Hose-end Sprayer as they will push that oil into the insects better than a pump-up sprayer.

Pictured Below are two images of 1. Mites and 2. Tea Scale.  If you do preventative sprays you won’t have damage to the plant.  Mite and Scale damage is not reversible.

Mite damage to Camellia leaves.

 

Severe Tea Scale

Fertilizing Your Plants

It’s been a long winter and your plants are hungry!  Now is the time to evaluate your fertilizer options.  Know what your plant requires before you grab the bag.   Grass fertilizer is not good for anything but grass.  If you have questions about what fertilizers you can use on your plants, give us a shout or drop by and we’ll help you choose the right blend.

Do You Know what your Fertilizer Numbers Mean?

The common first three numbers in fertilizer represent the main elements are important to know as they do different things.

N stands for Nitrogen and is the 1st number on your label.  Nitrogen will give you strong green growth. 

P stands for Phosphorus and is the 2nd number on your label.  Phosphorus will make strong roots, flowers, and fruit.  

K stands for Potassium and is the 3rd number on your label.  This element provides for the overall health and vigor of your plant.  This element is sometimes referred to as potash.  

For most plants, we recommend using an even number or close to it if possible.  14-14-14 or 20-20-20 would cover the gamut of plant needs.

Many plants have different needs – like grass needs a higher nitrogen than other plants.  Know your plants and what they need before you apply any fertilizer.

Types Of Fertilizer

There are 4 types of fertilizers.  Granular, Timed or Slow Release, and Liquid. 

Granular Fertilizers are usually fast acting and will start to work as soon as it’s applied.  Care should be taken when using traditional synthetic granular fertilizers so you won’t have salt damage by applying too much.  Always read the label.

There are many organic granular fertilizers like Espoma’s Holly Tone, Plant Tone, Etc.  These are perfect additions to your fertilizer regime as they are nonburning and not heat activated.  Milorganite is also a great granular fertilizer to use.

Timed Release Fertilizers or Slow Release Fertilizers are just that – they are activated to start releasing nutrients within a certain temperature range.  Care should be used with timed-release fertilizers like Osmocote because if you have a very hot day the fertilizer can release more than the plant can handle and salts can build up and damage your plants.  It’s important to make sure your plants are adequately hydrated if you are using a Timed Release Fertilizer and you have unusual temperature spikes.

Liquid Fertilizers are available in an array of formulations for your specific needs.  Keep in mind that feeding with a liquid is a one-shot deal and there is usually no residual left after you have used it.  Feeding once a season with a liquid fertilizer is usually not adequate nutrients for your plants.  Many liquid fertilizers will allow you to water with the solution each time you water and others may have you feeding every 7-10 days to once per month.  Always read the label of the liquid fertilizers you are using so you will make you are doing it correctly.

Planting In April

April is an excellent time to plant almost anything.   Evaluate your planting needs and have all the necessary tools you will need before you begin planting.  You may need to amend your soil if it is too dry or too wet.  We can help you figure out what you may need to use an amendment!  Stop by or drop us a text or email and we’ll be glad to help.

Mulch Mulch Mulch

April is an excellent time to replenish mulch in your beds.  Applying a 2-3″ layer of mulch around shrubs, trees, annuals, and perennials can help with weeds, moisture loss, and high temperatures.  Organic mulch like leaves, bark, and straw is recommended.

Did you know you can mulch your containers?  Yes, you can!  Adding bark chips to your container plants is an excellent way of keeping them cool, moist, and weed-free!

Pruning

April is an excellent time for pruning most shrubs.  Word of caution to hydrangeas.  Pannicle hydrangeas bloom on new wood, so it’s ok to prune those.  But the old traditional hydrangeas will bloom this summer on growth from last year, so keep pruning on those until after they bloom.  It’s the same with Blueberries and Blackberries.  They usually fruit on last year’s wood so keep pruning to a minimum.

Chemicals in the Garden

March is the time to consider garden insects and disease issues that you will have now and for the next few months.  The need to use chemicals in our gardens is something that we just can’t get away from.  But there are many alternatives to harsh chemicals that can hurt pollinators.  If you must use chemicals, always read the label and use the product as specified.

Know What Your Issue Is

Before you grab the chemical bottle, you need to know what your issue is.  The most important part of any chemical application is to know exactly what you’re treating for.  Don’t guess and apply a chemical needlessly.  We are always available by text, email or just dropping by and we are more than happy to help you figure out what your garden problems are.

Safe Insecticides 

Neem Oil works very well for controlling most insects including Mites, scales, Aphids, and many other insects without harming beneficial insects.   Did you know that Neem Oil is also a great fungicide and can help protect plants from many types of fungi?

Dawn Dish Detergent makes an excellent organic spray and can work wonders on things like White Flies, Aphids, and even some mites.  Mix 1-2 tablespoons in a quart of water and put in a spray bottle or tank.

Espoma Earth Tone Insectide Soap is organic and is formulated for many insects.  It is available online or at local garden stores.

Weed Control

Our go-to for organic weed control is a product called Avenger.  It’s made with orange oil and has excellent weed-killing abilities without hurting our pollinators.  There are many organic weed products available and can be cost-effective if you’re using them in a small area.  Keeping a 2-3″ layer of mulch will help greatly with weed control.  Keep in mind that some non-organic weed killers can harm beneficial insects & pollinators.

Irrigation Evaluation

April is the time to evaluate your watering needs before hot weather sets in.  Give your irrigation system a flush and make sure all heads are working properly.  It’s also the perfect time to reduce your water usage by installing drip irrigation for your plants.  It will not only save water but will save your back from pulling hoses all over the place!