Things to do in April: Flowers
□ Clean up garden beds . . . by cutting back old growth, pruning, dividing plants, edging, etc. Top-dress with an all-natural organic fertilizer, according to label directions. Add a layer of finished compost. Wait to apply mulch until the soil warms thoroughly.
□ Fertilize spring flowering bulbs . . . as green shoots get up and growing. When the flowers fade, remove the spent flower stalks, but leave the foliage to produce food for next year's flowers. Divide bulbs after the leaves turn brown. Work in a bit of extra compost and a handful of complete fertilizer before replanting.
□ Continue to plant cool-season flowers . . . such as pansies, violas, Johnny-jump-ups, primroses and snapdragons outdoors. Cover new transplants of annuals with floating row covers for frost protection on cold nights. Don't put tender annuals out until after Mother's day.
□ Gradually harden-off transplants . . . by setting them outdoors temporarily during the daytime for about a week before planting out.
□ Plant hardy perennials . . . such as daylilies and delphiniums. Set out small potted blooming chrysanthemums now so they will grow into large plants and re-bloom in fall.
□ Plant groundcovers . . . to help unify your garden beds.
□ Loosen the bottom of the root-ball . . . when transplanting flowers and vegetables, to encourage roots to grow into the native soil.
□ Start tender bulbs . . . like cannas, callas, tuberous begonias, dahlias indoors now, then transplant after all frost danger passes (late-May).
□ Divide overgrown perennials . . . when one inch of growth appears.
□ Place supports around peonies . . . now, so that staking is not needed and the foliage covers the supports as it emerges. Be cautious if dividing peonies - they do not respond well to being moved.
□ Prune roses . . . just as buds begin to push, removing dead, damaged and diseased canes and opening up the plants to allow light and air. Feed roses once a month from April through August. Plant new roses, especially those that come bare-root.
□ Heavily prune back . . . sage, Russian sage and caryopteris to stimulate new growth. Wait until lavender shows new growth, then prune it hard and remove winter-killed branches.
□ Prune spring flowering shrubs . . . such as weigela, flowering quince and forsythia as soon after flowering as possible. Cut a few of the older stems to the ground every year or two to rejuvenate the plant.
□ Prepare soil in pots . . . for container planting. Soil-less mixes are best for container gardening.
□ Add to your garden journal, calendar or notebook . . . record bloom times, timing of tasks, successes and failures, and valuable information from catalogs or seed packets.