April Gardening Tips

ranunculus_white_12April is the first full month of spring in the garden and if you have just gotten outside, you have probably discovered that many of your plants have begun to grow. Don’t let that allow you to make the mistake of planting annuals (except cool weather annuals like pansies, primrose and ranunculus) just yet. Wait until the danger of frost has ended, usually about Mother’s Day.

It is advantageous, however to plant perennials, flowering shrubs, vines, and any deciduous or evergreen trees. The weather is ideal for laying sod and patching bare areas by over-seeding and starting new lawns with seed.

You can safely transplant all hardy plants at this time without the stress that summer brings. The watering needs will be less and it is easier to work in these moderate temperatures than in the heat and humidity that inevitably comes.

We are just beginning to fill our outdoor departments with plants. The very cold dreary winter set us back a few weeks but the delightful April weather is changing everything quickly. This is an ideal time to make frequent visits to Waterloo Gardens as inventory increases every week. Don’t miss the many colorful plants that arrive almost daily and talk to one of our excited sales associates about your spring garden!

Early Spring Color

pansy_lavender_12smThe long, cold, and dreary winter seems to be hanging on as our desire for spring color grows. Fortunately there are spring interest annuals and perennials available now to satisfy our need for a glimpse of things to come. Pansies and violas are among the happiest of flowers in an amazing array of colors. Primroses in Crayola crayon shades are in their prime. English daisies in hues of red and pink brighten any garden bed or container, and spring blooming bulbs are putting on a show.

As long as you are prepared to cover your plants when the temperatures dip below freezing, you can safely plant them in your beds or containers. At Waterloo Gardens we specialize in creating beautiful container gardens for all seasons so stop by this week and brighten your outdoor entrances for the coming holiday and talk to one of our gardening experts if you have any questions at all!

Heatwave and Watering

Well, we are about to get hit with the first official heatwave in June, just in time to coincide with the beginning of summer.

Watering is essential during the whole summer but especially during the excessive 90+ degree days. The best time to water is in the morning.  Watering during the heat of the day allows the water to evaporate at the same time the roots are trying to absorb the moisture.  If your time schedule only allows for evening watering, take extra precautions to only water around the root zone.  Wet leaves during high humidity (especially at night) can lead to mildew, fungal problems, and possibly leaf and/or stem rot.

When watering trees, perennials, and annuals planted in the ground, you must soak them enough to allow the water to penetrate deeply into their root system.  Quick sprinkles or short bursts of water will only wet the top layer of the soil.  This will encourage shallow root growth rather than deeper roots.  Healthy, deep, root growth allows plants to withstand dry weather because they are able to access moisture in the lower layers of the soil.  Shallow roots will simply dry out during the hot and dry summer conditions, leading to the demise of your plants.

Keep a close watch on those hanging baskets and container gardens.  Because their root system is contained within a smaller environment, they are very sensitive to overly dry conditions.   If subjected to dry conditions for too long, they can suffer irreparable damage…or as I like to say, “crisp up.”  Soak them thoroughly until the water begins to come out of the bottom of the pot.

Hold off on fertilizing until the heatwave passes.  Plant growth can slow during the excessive temperatures and some fertilizers can cause certain plants to require even more moisture for absorbtion which is not ideal at this time.

Just hang tight.  The heatwave will pass.  Take special care of your plants and they will come through the tough conditions in good shape.

Cool April Weather – Protecting Your Plants

Here we are, close to May, and a freeze warning has been put into effect for tonight.  The next two nights are going to be cold too.

It is very important that you protect any tender plants that you may have purchased.  Frost blankets, sheets, indoor covers, towels – whatever you use, you need to create protection from the possible temperatures of the high twenties to freezing.  Cover your annuals well, especially impatiens, sweet potato vine, begonias, and coleus.  If possible, bring your containers into a garage or into the house.  Vegetables need to be covered and protected as well.

Luckily, the cold front is only going to be upon us for about the next 2 or 3 nights.  Keep an eye on www.accuweather.com for the latest updates.

Protect your Plants

It is going to be COLD tonight – below freezing cold.  We all need to protect our plants – water the roots (not the leaves) well and then cover with a protective tarp, plastic sheet, frost cover, etc.  I am not worried about my pansies.  The most that will happen is that a few flowers may fall off – but more buds will follow.  I am mostly worried about my newly planted cold crops, especially the tiny ones that sprouted from seed.  I will definitely cover them.

I think I will bring my lettuce hanging baskets inside – I will trim them at the same time and enjoy a fresh salad.  🙂