April Tips: Southern California
From planting to deadheading, there's plenty to do in the garden this month. So grab your garden gloves and have a little fun!
Planting Trees and Shrubs -- Continue to plant container-grown trees, shrubs, perennial herbs, groundcovers, and perennial flowers. However, in the desert, finish planting this month.
Planting Nursery Plants -- Continue to plant warm-season annual flowers and vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, petunias, and the like) as long as all danger of frost has passed and as long as you have enough time for them to beat the summer heat. (However, in hot desert areas, for example, that means no later than late February.) If in doubt, give a quick call to the garden center nearest you.
- If you haven't already and as long as you're a couple of weeks past your region's last average frost date, you can plant seeds for corn, green beans, melons, squash, cucumbers, okra, sweet potatoes and other heat-lovers.
- Keep mowing regularly -- about once every week or two -- and at the right height. It's the best thing you can do to control weeds and keep grass thick and healthy. In areas where it's hitting the 90s F, mow cool-season lawns such as bluegrass, ryegrasses, or fescues at 3 inches or so (2 inches in cooler weather). Mow warm-season grasses such as Bermuda, St. Augustine, and zoysia at about 2 inches all growing season long.
- Dethatch warm-season lawns, if necessary, once the lawn starts to grow.
- Fertilize your lawn.
- Fertilize roses, citrus trees, fuchsia, avocado trees, and irises.
- If conditions are dry, spider mites may well be starting to take hold. Control them by giving affected plants a strong daily blast with the hose, being sure to get underneath the leaves. This has the nice side effect of also reducing aphid populations.
- Keep up with watering, paying special attention to newly-planted plants, containers, roses, lawns, tomatoes, and globe artichokes. For best use of water, water around established plantings once the soil is dry about 6 inches below the surface. If you don't already have a drip irrigation system set up for your containers, check out the many types available at your garden center.
Deadheading 101 -- Deadhead fading flower blossoms. You'll keep your garden neater and flowering better longer.
Stakes and Supports -- Stake tall plants that will need it now while they're just a foot or so high.
- Continue to control snails and ants as needed.
- When the blossoms on your potatoes start to bloom, it's time to harvest.
- Harvest vegetables when they're young and tender.
- In low desert areas, provide shade for tomatoes when daytime temperatures reach 100 degrees F.