47April 4, 2012

April is typically the month when our outdoor plants begin to awaken from their winter’s sleep. The warm weather in March got the plants off to an early start, but our normal weather of late has slowed down the growth of many of our plants. Slowly but surely, the plants will continue to grow and there are things we need to do to help our plants to grow their best.

By the month of May, many of our perennials will have grown quickly and many will have reached the point where they will soon be blooming. Once many of the plants are blooming, the flower stalks may fall over from the weight of the blooms. If you add in a bit of rainy weather, many of the flower stalks will fall over. Probably the classic example of this problem is the peony plant. These plants put out a tremendous amount of growth in April. The plants get huge and they will put up many flower stalks with giant flower buds. The flowers will open and will be spectacular until rainy days causes the flowers stalks to fall to the ground. This can be prevented if you place plant supports around your plants. You can use either a double ring peony hoop or you can use a grid type plant support. If you place the plant supports over the peonies now, the plants will grow up through the supports and the foliage and the flower stalks will be held up by the supports. You should remember that the peonies would get big so you need to use a large enough plant support. Now is the time to do this project before the peonies and other perennials get too big to properly place the plant supports over the plants.

April is also the month to begin to fertilize your perennials. As the new growth emerges, the plants need fertilizer for proper growth. Your spring flowering shrubs, such as forsythia, are fertilized after they are done blooming. Your summer flowering shrubs, like butterfly bushes, should be fertilized now and throughout the season. Your rhododendrons and azaleas only need to be fertilized once they are done flowering. These two plants should only need to be fertilized one time after they are done flowering. Your deciduous and evergreen trees can be fertilized now.
Fertilizing your plants now will also help the roots of the plants to recover from the damage caused by the freezing and thawing of the soil during this past winter.

The soil is very dry. Many of your plants need to be watered now. Plants use water to nourish the leaves and the flowers. Many of your spring flowering shrubs will only flower for a short period of time if they don’t have sufficient water in the soil. Without adequate water, some of your plants may not survive the damage caused by the winter freezing and thawing cycle. It’s time to get the hoses out and to get some water to those plants.

Well, I guess I have given you enough to keep you busy for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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