Many of us are confined at home and working in our gardens is a wonderful way to pass the time. Here are some tasks for your to-do list.
- If you are not already doing so, you might start keeping a gardening journal. In particular, track what blooms at what time. Do you have blooms galore in April and then nothing for the rest of the year? If so, you might want to add some late bloomers to your garden. Use the Earth-Kind Plant Selector to help you identify some good choices.
- Plant some warm season annuals to brighten the less boisterous parts of your garden. Begonias, petunias, pentas (butterflies love these!), cosmos, and many others can be found at a nursery near you. This guide will help you with that.
- If you haven’t planted tomatoes yet, your time is running out. Get them in quick!
- Fruit trees might be sending up water sprouts that need to be pruned. Water sprouts typically come from the trunk or older branches. Learn proper pruning techniques.
- Now is a good time to prune winter blooming shrubs like camellias, bridal wreath (Spirea), and others whose bloom season is over. Learn more at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/newsletters/hortupdate/hortupdate_archives/2005/mar05/PruneShrubs.html .
- If you have an arbor or other structure you would like to see covered with vines, this month is a great time to plant those vines. Vines can provide shade, noise abatement and privacy. Learn more at https://easttexasgardening.tamu.edu/2014/05/06/vines-for-shade-and-color/ .
- Roses, shrubs and trees will have a greater chance to thrive if they are planted before the heat of summer. Planting now may save some heartache later.
- Trim ornamental grasses to encourage denser growth. However, do not trim more than one-third lest you damage the plant. Learn more about landscaping with ornamental grasses.
- If you have summer- and fall-blooming perennial flowers that do not bloom the way they once did, perhaps they need to be divided. Do so now before their blooming season starts.
- Check your automated irrigation system. If there has been recent rain, you may not need to have it on. If it has been more than 2 weeks since it rained, you may need to provide about ½ to 1 inch of water to your yard and your young shrubs, roses, or trees. However, before you do, make sure the plants need it. If they appear to be thriving, you can wait. Too much water or fertilizer is known to cause certain turf diseases. Learn more about brown patch, take-all root rot and other lawn problems.
- With the return of warmer weather, you may also see the return of ants to your yard. Not all ants are bad and not all need to be treated. However, the reddish fire ants may need to be treated, especially if you or your children walk in the yard. Learn the recommended practice to controlling these pests, called the Texas Two-Step Method.
- If you have butterfly plants, you might spot caterpillars eating those plants. Before you reach for the bug spray, remember those caterpillars might be your baby butterflies. If you need information about how to control insect pests in your garden, including insecticidal oils and how to identify beneficial insects, here are fact sheets about garden pests from Texas A&M.
- Finally, celebrate Earth Day on April 22, 2020. Learn ways to celebrate from https://www.earthday.org/ .
April Color in Fort Bend County
Let’s start with our Texas Superstar® of the Month: Duranta (Duranta erecta), also known as Golden Dewdrop or Brazilian Sky Flower. There are about 30 varieties of Duranta but all have these characteristics:
- Grows best in sun or shade but blooms best in full sun
- Mostly evergreen foliage in shades from dark green to green/yellow variegated
- Blooms begin in spring and go through first frost
- Blue, white or purple flowers attract both butterflies and hummingbirds
- In fall when the flowers become yellowish berries, it provides food for birds.
Duranta erecta is one of the most popular varieties of Duranta. Different cultivars grow to different heights with the largest growing to 8 – 10 feet tall and wide.
For more information about Duranta, visit http://texassuperstar.com/plants/duranta/index.html .
For more information about Texas Superstar plants, visit http://texassuperstar.com/ .
Here are some other blooms to brighten your April. We can’t wait to see some of these beauties in our gardens.
- Hinckley’s Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana): This perennial small shrub has yellow blooms in winter and spring and grows well in part sun or shade.
- Sand sagebrush or Wormwood (Artemisia filifolia): This Texas native shrub is blooming this month but its real attraction is its aromatic, silver foliage that is lovely as a contrast year-around. It is highly heat tolerant and evergreen (or eversilver, if you wish).
- Knock Out Rose® (Rose ‘Radrazz’): This rose is both a Texas Superstar® and a Texas Earth-Kind® Rose! It is disease-resistant, nematode-resistant, evergreen, perennial, and has an exceptionally long bloom season. What’s not to like?
- Mystic Spires Blue Salvia (Salvia longispicata x farinacea ‘Mystic Spires Blue’): This Texas Superstar is a perennial with true blue flowers on spikes up to 30 inches tall. It grows in full sun and is tolerant of heat and humidity. Bees love it!
When the Stay Home and Stay Safe order is lifted in Fort Bend County, feel free to visit our demonstration gardens. For more information, look on our website at https://fbmg.org/demonstration-gardens/.