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Potpourri for April

April really puts on a show for us in Montgomery. The azaleas with blooms from top to toe remind me of Southern Belle dresses; the lacy dogwoods, pink and white, remind us of Easter: and the gorgeous Japanese Magnolias with their stunning purple and white blooms, make an arresting sight. And let's not forget the Snow Ball Viburnum which are very showy.

We have Spring well underway for zone 8, the River Region Zone. While the nights are still cool, it is good to allow certain plants to get established before things heat up. The following are what are termed cool weather annuals:

1. Petunias, all the varieties do well now and should last until July. Go visit these flowers at after dark, and you will notice the fragrance.

2. Dianthus are another perennial that will do well until they die off with heat exhaustion. We treat them as annuals in the deep south due to the extreme heat.

3. Begonias should be put out now for the same reasons, except the Dragon Wing begonias, which can be planted most anytime.

4. Hostas can be planted now either bare rooted or the in pots, These thrive mostly in the shade.

5. Impatiens can be planted now and can readily survive any cool nights.

6. Geraniums also thrive this time of the year, and should do well through July. They need dead heading often, and love plenty of fertilizer.

It depends when you last laid out mulch in the areas of beds that you have not sown seed. If you put the pine straw down over these areas, the seed may not germinate. However, now is a good time to spread some mulch as this conserve water, and smothers out weeds that may later germinate. Better to smother the weeds, than to later have to use Round-up, which is a type of poison.

There is a summer oil you can purchase at the garden centers which you can apply with a hose-end sprayer much like the dormant oil. This will give you a second chance to smother pest eggs, so they will not hatch and become a scourge all summer. Also this is a great time to remove any guide wires that you may have attached to trees planted last fall, as the trees should grow quickly and we do not want imbedded wire in our trees.

Remember to not give up on any hydrangeas that may not have budded out. Some are late, especially after such a cold winter. They will bloom off of dead looking wood only. Be patient and cut back only after the other branches have come alive. Otherwise, no hydrangea blooms for you this year. It does help to cut back any spent blooms which does encourage subsequent blooms.

April is a good month to plant Canna Lilies, Hosta, Day Lilies, Ajuga or Bugleweed, the ground cover for areas of shade, and Elephants' ears. This is also a good time to plant ferns, Christmas holly, Baptisia, and Veronica. I highly recommend the dwarf Canna lilies, which come in a variety of colors.

Now is also a good time to plant herbs such as dill weed,

coriander, basil, parsley and mint.



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