The people's voice of reason

April Potpourri

I wonder if there is any month of the year I do not like. April is the time we enjoy many flowering trees and shrubs. Gorgeous Japanese magnolias are about to finish blooming, but forsythia, lorepedulum, dogwood, cherry trees, red bud, azaleas, Indian hawthorn are just spectacular. Montgomery and surrounding areas are simply a fairy land of vibrant colors and fragrances this time of year.

Fertilizing these trees and shrubs should be at least an annual routine, but some just do not get around to getting it done before the heat of the summer, or they are confused about fertilizing at all. There are some terms which should be understood to make this job easier. The drip line is mentioned on some fertilizers. This is the imaginary line on the soil under the outermost tips of the branches. Rainwater tends to drip from that point and thus, drip line. This term is used often with the feeding, watering, and grading around existing trees and shrubs. Always remember that too must fertilizer can kill. These are three of the most common ways to fertilize trees:

1. Surface feeding where one broadcasts a granular fertilizer on the surface around the drip line, and watering it in with a hose or sprinkler.

2. Root plug feeding where one takes soil sampling tool or pipe, makes a 6 to 12 inch deep holes about 2 to 3 feet apart. Just fill in the fertilizer, cover with soil, and water well.

3. Root feeder method is so helpful with newly planted and young trees. The difference in growth in 3 years time is dramatic. There are several on the market, but I am familiar with Ross Root Feeder. It is attached to a hose, and has the fertilizer pellet in place Insert the root feeder about half way between the trunk and the drip line about 6 to 12 inches.

Turn on the hose and let it run for about 5 minutes per hole.

Another way of fertilizing is the use of foliar fertilizers. These are quick fixes for certain type of nutrients and micro nutrients as they are sprayed on the leaves and quickly absorbed. Read the labels for the rates to use. Although foliar feeding gets the job done quickly, it is no substitute for soil feeding. Remember to discontinue foliar feeding if the temperatures reach 85 degrees.

PLANT OF THE MONTH -- Pentas (Ianceolata)...

Pentas (Ianceolate) is also called star clusters, are a perennial is our Zone 8 and are really a workhorse in the garden. They need full sun to partial shade, and need plenty of water.

These are excellent in attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. Multi-stemmed, and spreading habit, are an easy source for a huge range of colors. They need to be fertilized monthly throughout the summer. Height is 2-3 feet, with long leaves somewhat oval.

The bloom heads are about 4 inches wide with individuals star shaped flowers. When the blooms die, it is best to dead head them, so a new flush of blooms are forthcoming.

They can be grown indoors, and are good cut flowers since they have a long vase life.

Planting Schedules

April is the month to plant begonias, petunias, geraniums, pentas, verbena, and sow the seed of zinnias, and cosmos for early summer bloom. Also for shady areas, add impatiens, dusty miller, and lamb's ears to your garden area. Day lilies, cannas, and other summer blooming bulbs go in this month. However, I never plant caladiums until mid-May when I can be sure that the ground temperatures are warm enough for the bulb to grow. If you want Asian Lilies, they would have been planted last fall. So if you bought them, go ahead and plant, but do not expect a lot this season.

Good Gardening!


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