Spring is finally in evidence as plants begin to bloom. Expect the inevitable April showers this month, but with sunny days too when you can turn your attention to the lawn. It’s an exciting month, with indoor-sown seeds well into growth and it’s also time to start sowing outdoors. Just watch out for late frosts…
Sowing and planting:
Continue sowing hardy annuals at the beginning of the month. If the ground has warmed sufficiently, you can do this directly into the ground. If the ground is still wet and cold, sow early in the month in the greenhouse. Where time is short, or space is limited, choose from our extensive selections of pot and pack bedding. Remember though that these plants will need protection from any late frosts.
Now is also the perfect time to plant perennials. These delightful plants give excellent value for money flowering year after year and can also be divided to make more plants as they grow.
Spring is also the ideal time to plant shrubs as the soil is moist and warm enough for new root growth to help the plants become established quickly.
Time to start feeding:
Signs of renewed growth in the garden means that plants will be hungry after their long winter’s sleep. Fertilizing now means that you will reap the benefits later in the year. Choose a general balanced fertilizer for routine use. Alternatively, you could you a rose fertilizer which is high in potassium for most flowering plants in the spring. Use an ericaceous fertilizer for acid loving plants such as Camellias and Azaleas.
Plant seed potatoes (protect from frosts with fleece), Globe & Jerusalem Artichokes, Onion & Shallot Sets and Asparagus.
Sow seed outdoors in mild areas with light soil, eg: broad beans, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, onions, lettuces, radish, peas, spinach, summer cabbage, salad leaves, leeks, Swiss chard, kohl rabi, turnip and summer cauliflower. Alternatively, purchase vegetable plants from our ready to grow range. Be guided by the weather, and sow only if conditions are suitable.
Plant containerised fruit trees, now just bursting with spring blossom including dwarf varieties for smaller areas.
Strawberries can be grown in a wide range of soils, from light sand to heavy clay. However, water logging will cause the fruits to become diseased and the plant to rot. The ideal soil is well-drained and rich in humus. They prefer to be planted in full sun, out of the wind.
Continue to deadhead winter-flowering pansies and other winter bedding. Pansies will carry on into the spring and even to early summer, if attended to frequently.
Deadhead the flowers of Narcissus (daffodils) as they fade, but allow the foliage to die down naturally.
Check whether containers need watering. Even at this time of year, they can dry out. Pots that are sheltered by eaves or balconies can miss out on any rainfall. If in doubt, check the compost at a hand’s depth to see if it feels dry. Aim to keep pots moist, but not wet.
Pots and tubs benefit from topping up with fresh John Innes compost. Old compost can be removed and replaced with new if there is not much room for topping up.
In the greenhouse:
Prick out seedlings before they get too crowded and then to pot them on as individual plants as soon as they are large enough.
Make sure you give greenhouse plants more space as they put on new growth. This will help to prevent disease, and to contain early pest infestations.
Check if plants need watering at least every few days and seedlings will need daily attention.
A minimum of 5°C (41°F) needs to be maintained to ensure that fuchsias, pelargoniums and other tender plants being killed by the cold. Tropical plants require a higher temperature of at least 12°C (54°F) which will require a greenhouse heater.
If weather turns warm apply a light covering of shade paint of the greenhouse panes to prevent plants becoming scorched by bright sunshine. Alternatively, a sheet of newspaper, or some shade netting will work fine as temporary shading for seedlings and young plants.
Temperatures can still drop at night. Seedlings in particular object to wide temperature fluctuations and a heated propagator, or fleece cover could be a cost effective answer if your greenhouse is mostly full of hardy mature plants.
If the weather is warm and sunny, you may need to start damping down the floor of the greenhouse in the morning by splashing water over it to increase humidity levels.
Open vents and doors during warm days.
Brush up fallen compost and debris, and pick off dead leaves from plants. This will help prevent pests and disease spreading.