April 2021 Gardening Calendar
Searcy, Ark. – Most plants are beginning to leaf out, but not all fully. Folks are worried about their plants and the damage they have been dealing with from the February winter storm. While it’s no secret we have experienced significant damage to fruit and ornamental plants, we need to be patient. It'll will take a few more weeks for us to determine the final extent of the damage.
Our plants are just like the plumbing in our house. If the pipes are busted that will reveal more damage after budbreak. Don’t rush to address this problem now but re-evaluate your plants in about 2 weeks (except for palms). At that time we will have a clearer picture on extent of the damage and then we can decide where to prune or whether some plants may need to be replaced.
Also, the damage may still be in progress. Once plants start flushing out leaves/blooms we will see more of the damage although even that may not be the final story. Buds may open but then the 'plumbing' is damaged so the plant can't support that growth.
There is still time to prune summer-blooming plants such as crape myrtles, rose of Sharon, summer-blooming spirea (NOT spring-blooming bridal wreath spirea), butterfly bush and more. Don’t prune any spring-blooming plants until after they finish flowering. For evergreen shrubs such as boxwoods and holly, you can prune as needed, now through early summer. Ornamental grasses are beginning to grow, and if you have not pruned, pull back the old, dead growth to see how tall the new growth has gotten, and prune above that line. You don’t want cut edges on your new leaves.
Vegetable gardening is in full swing, but again, cooler weather may have delayed planting in some gardens. There is still time to plant cool season vegetables including lettuce, broccoli, greens and onions, but get it done by mid-month. Wait for the soil and air to warm up before planting tomatoes, peppers and eggplants—even though garden centers have likely been selling them for over a month now! You won’t be gaining anything if you have to replant or the plants get stunted by cold nights.
Lawns are beginning to green up, but there is much competition from the winter weeds—or, as some call them, their “wildflowers.” Whichever you call them, flowering plants in the lawn mean seeds are forming and these wildflowers/ weeds will increase next year. If you aren’t enamored with the flowering weeds, try to keep them mowed now to prevent additional seed set. Many of the weeds are going to be dying out in a few weeks when warmer conditions occur. Herbicide usage now is not very effective and may actually hinder your lawn's green-up, as it is a transition from winter dormancy to summer green. Keep the lawn area mowed and wait until it has totally greened up to apply your first round of fertilizer. Then you can worry about summer weeds.
Many gardeners are chomping at the bit to move their houseplants back outside to reclaim some of their indoor living space. But please, be patient. Even though we may be having some really warm days, we are usually still having some really cool nights, which could cause houseplants to suffer cold damage. Waiting until early May is not going to hurt, especially if you live in the northern tier of the state. If you have plants that are too pot-bound, dividing them or repotting them is a great chore to do when you do move them outside.
Winter annuals are doing well in some gardens, and in others they have barely recovered from winter damage. If yours still look good, fertilize them and enjoy them one more month. If they are non-existent or barely there, start replanting with warm season annuals. Some will tolerate cooler temperatures better than others. You can start planting callibrachoa, verbena, petunias and begonias, but hold off on lantana, periwinkle and summer impatiens. In addition to more annuals, visit your local nurseries and garden centers to see the new selections of perennials, shrubs and trees. If you had some plant casualties, now is a great time to replace them. Consider the time of year you need color help in the garden and choose plants that can extend your color palette.
The University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.
By Sherri Sanders
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Sherri Sanders
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
2400 Old Searcy Landing Road Searcy AR 72143
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