University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
AND OTHER APRIL GARDENING TIPS
Leonard Perry, UVM Extension
summer bulbs, deterring pets in the garden, and sowing peas are some
gardening activities for this month.
cannas, and gladiolus are available now and you can get a head start
them up indoors. Plant them in large containers and keep them in a
if possible, in a sunny window until planting time outside. Dahlias
may need to
be pinched back while still indoors to keep the plants from getting
You'll get earlier blooms with this technique.
you have pets or neighbor cats and dogs that like to visit your
steps now to deter them. There are products you can sprinkle around
that safely repel animals, low fences that you can set up around
gadgets such as pointed plastic spikes you can lay in popular
digging spots. Even
some wire mesh laid on bare ground may be all that’s needed to keep
digging. It's easier to deter bad habits
than to break them.
Once the soil reaches 45 degrees (F) and is dried
out enough to dig in, it's time to plant peas. Choose a location in
and orient the rows north-south to take full advantage of the
over the soil with a garden fork, or rototill if it's a new bed.
Soak the seeds
for a few hours or overnight (no longer or they may rot), and dust
with an inoculant of nitrogen-fixing bacteria to help the roots take
nitrogen. Set up your trellis first, then plant the seeds 1 to 2
inches deep. Sow beets, carrots, radishes, and spinach
outside now too.
butterfly bushes bloom on new growth, the best time to prune is
before new growth
begins. Cut off the old stalks to within a few inches of the ground
pruners, loppers, or a pruning saw -- whatever is needed. If you
want a more
compact plant, also pinch off the tips of the branches in early May.
wait too long, you'll remove flower buds.
Now that you can see which rose canes have blackened and
died, you can cut them back to green wood. Make slanted cuts about
above an outward-facing bud. Also remove any crossing and spindly
canes. If any
of last-year's leaves are still clinging to the branches, pull them
discard them in the trash in case they contain disease spores.
Now is a good time to dig and divide perennials if they’re
too large, didn’t bloom well last year, or are hollow in the center
clump. Dig up the clump, and use a sharp spade to create pie-shaped
these divisions in a full-sun location in well-drained soil, and
water often to
keep soil moderately moist. An even easier method is to divide the
half, removing one half to divide and replant, and leaving the other
It's a good idea to test your soil every few years to
determine its nutrient status and pH (acidity/alkalinity). Your
Service can provide a reasonably priced test, and along with the
get recommendations for improving the soil. At the very least test
which you can do yourself with an easy-to-use home kit. You can find
garden centers. The proper soil pH is important for plant health,
the availability of nutrients.
gardening activities for this month include sowing many flowers and
indoors, moving woody plants if needed, and cutting back perennials
didn’t last fall.
(Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally known horticulturist,
author, gardening consultant, and garden coach; CharlieNardozzi.com).