In the Garden - WHAT TO DO


• April is usually dry and windy so monitor the landscape for water distress. Water only when the soil begins to dry or plants show signs of stress. 


• Fruiting trees require an inch of water weekly. Replace disease-prone impatiens and heat-sensitive annuals with pentas, gailardias, salvia, or other hardier, less thirsty plants.


• Add richness and depth to beds with beautiful new sun- tolerant coleus cultivars,


• This is the season for “pass-along plants” so divide bulbs, ornamental grasses and herbaceous perennials to share with friends.


• April is a buggy month: watch for spider mites, aphids, leafhoppers, and thrips.

•  Inspect mature trees and trim as needed before hurricane season begins.


• Be vigilant. Examine your garden and landscaping on a regular basis to avoid major problems caused by drought, insects, or disease.


• Apply a good layer of mulch to keep moisture in and weeds down but don’t let mulch touch the trunk of trees. Ideal depth: 2 to 3-inches around trees and shrubs and 1-inch in flowerbeds.


• Think about creating low maintenance perennial beds, a butterfly area, or clustering herbs and flowering plants in pots, which can be moved to a location where there is shelter from the relentless summer sun.


• Use seed, plugs or sod to start new lawns or fill in the bare areas. Chinch bugs are causing yellow spots in St. Augustine lawns; treat if needed. 


• Trim old flowers stalks from amaryllis, Amazon lilies and other spring flowering plants.


• Feed palms with a slow release fertilizer as instructed on the label. 


• Add holiday poinsettias to the landscape and give them a spring trimming. 


• Complete herb plantings before hot weather; many grow best in containers. 


• Feed vegetable plantings lightly every 3 to 4 weeks. 


• Finish spring feedings of fruit trees. 


• Give foliage plants a spring feeding if you haven’t already. 


 •Apply Maxicrop on both sides of leaves of fruit trees and on stressed and ailing plants. With all sprays the best time is late afternoon; second best is early morning. 


• Delay planting balled and burlap palms until the summer rains begin. Keep the bud tied   until it forces new growth. This keeps the young leaves from drying out until new roots get established.


• Bats and other wildlife may be raising their young in palms or trees this month so hold off on pruning them.


• Mark Peters, local croton breeder says feed crotons in April, June, and August. 


• Fertilize trees and shrubs, which have not been fertilized yet this spring. Fertilize again late June and late September. Fertilize roses each time the plants produce a flush of bloom (about every 6-8 weeks). 


• Cut back spring-blooming shrubs, such as azalea and (this is for Pam) camellia soon after they bloom.


• Several light prunings with hand pruners over the summer will keep fast-growing shrubs such as Ligustrum, viburnum and Photinia looking neat. “Pinch” tips for compact growth. Prune poinsettias several times from May through August.


• Root 4” to 6” long softwood cuttings for potting after about 6-8 weeks.


• Check weekly for powdery mildew (crape myrtles, roses), black spot on roses, scale, aphids, and lace bugs on azaleas, thrips on roses, spider mites on daylilies, chewing caterpillars on cannas and oleander and grasshoppers on lilies.


• Psocids (tree cattle) cause harmless webs on tree trunks. Wash off with a squirt of


water hose or whisk off with a broom. • Apply Bacillus thuriengensis (Dipel, Thuricide) to kill caterpillars. It won’t affect most beneficial insects.


• Spider mites, aphids, soft scales and other soft-bodied insects can be killed using a spray of 21⁄2 tablespoons each of baby shampoo and vegetable oil per gallon of water. Repeat in 5 days for mite control, as needed for others.


• Roses need weekly spraying once the afternoon rains begin in order to prevent many diseases. Alternate approved fungicides weekly or as the chemicals are used up. 


• Apply magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) to poinsettias, gardenias, fruits and palms showing yellowing deficiency symptoms on oldest leaves.


• Replenish mulch around all plantings (except annuals & citrus) to a depth of 3 inches. 


• Turn an empty milk jug into a watering can by poking holes in the lip with an ice pick.


Make sure to fertilize before the summer fertilizer ban goes into effect from June 1st to September 30th. An application of a liquid iron solution will help keep your lawn green through the summer months. Always use slow release turf fertilizer with potassium and magnesium to keep the lawn healthy. But do get your soil tested before spending money on fertilizer your landscape may not need.


 Mow turf weekly with lawn mower at the highest setting. Mowing the turf at a height of 4 inches is best because the length of the roots will match the length of the leaf blades. So, mowing the turf to a height of 3.5 to 4 inches will result in longer leaf blades for increased photosynthesis and a deeper root system that is better at handling dry spells. Leaving the grass clippings on the lawn (and not on impervious surfaces) will add organic matter and nutrients back to the soil, where they are needed.

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