April is the heart of autumn. This is an important time in the annual gardening calendar. Many crops need to be harvested, seeds collected and new plantings and sowings made for the new winter and spring season. One growth cycle comes to an end, whilst the new one commences almost simultaneously. Ignore this important planting season at your peril. Autumns’ hard work pays handsome dividends in spring.
- Autumn planting starts in earnest this month. Many flower seedlings will be available for planting during April including Iceland poppies, pansies, violas, primulas, petunias, dianthus, cinerarias and nemesias.
- Continue planting flower seeds in situ. Still time to sow sweetpeas, African daisies, Livingstone daisies and so forth.
- Plant out ornamental kale seedlings for a spectacular winter show.
- Dead head plants that are still looking good.
- Pinch out early flower buds on young flower seedlings to encourage plant growth.
- Continue planting winter and spring crops, both seeds and seedlings.
- Young peas need to be staked from a small size.
- Check young cabbages and their relatives for aphids and caterpillars (diamond back moth larvae).
- Cut back asparagus and mound the soil around the crowns in rows.
- Plant out rhubarb plants.
- Harvest peppers and chillies.
- Good time to plant out young strawberry plants.
- Avocado crops are ready for harvesting, along with many citrus fruits.
- The best time to plant out young fruit trees, especially deciduous types like peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots.
- Prune back old canes of raspberries and blackberries that have finished fruiting.
- Plant out bulbs of freesias, sparaxis, tritonias, Dutch irises, hyacinths, lachenalias, ranunculus, anemones amongst many others.
- Plant out perennials like aquilegias, delphiniums, echinaceas, verbascums and lupins.
- This is the best time to plant out new trees and shrubs, roses and climbers.
- Mulch trees and shrubs before the soil moisture level decreases as the rainfall diminishes.
- Prune back autumn flowering shrubs as they finish blooming.
- Lift dahlia tubers that have finished blooming for winter storage.
- Cover perennial borders that have been cut back with a mulch of compost or well rotted kraal manure.
- Autumn leaves need regular clearing. Keep them for composting. Make wire holders in discreet shaded parts of the garden and allow them to form leaf mould. This is invaluable for using as mulch or compost throughout the garden.
- Protect pools and water features from falling leaves.
- Prune back aggressive climbers and trim tickey creeper.