Average Temperatures and Rainfall:
Although all of the spring months will
ordinarily continue to have good rains, they will begin to lessen. The average
rainfall for April is 5.1 inches while the month's temperatures will reach an
average maximum of 65 degrees F. and a minimum of 43 degrees F.
This is an excellent time to dig up samples of your soil and submit them to the
Agricultural Extension Agency for testing. Before beginning this project, stop
by and pick up their special instructions. Soils in the Plateau area may be
highly acidic in some areas necessitating adding some lime or other additives to
your lawns and gardens.
Apply a combination of
slow-release fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicide for crabgrass control to your
cool-season (fescue) lawn before the last frost. For best results, apply before
dandelions reach the puffball stage. Repair bare spots in cool season lawns by
raking the dirt and spreading new seeds. Use of a straw cover is always helpful.
Spring mowing will begin with an opportunity to put grass clippings in your
compost. If you have determined that your soil is more acid than the cool season
grasses will tolerate, this is the time to put moderate amounts of lime on your
lawn. Apply fertilizer to warm season grasses such as Zoysia or Bermuda grass by
April 15th. Use 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
Start seeds indoors for
annuals and some perennials. Lettuces can be directly sown into containers and
grow quickly. Just cover seeds with
a dusting of soil, or you can pat the seeds down without covering them at all.
Once the lettuce is 4 to 5 inches high, hold the leaves in one hand and
use scissors to cut the stems about an inch from its base.
Clean flowerbeds and put down weed preventer, being very
careful to note the instructions on the package. Although frost still may occur
during the month of April, perennials may be set out. A good general fertilizer
such as 10-10-10 is good at this time for flowerbeds. Perennials will begin to
grow quickly now. Both azaleas and rhododendrons will show up for sale at this
time. Buy azaleas in bloom to make sure the color is what you desire. Also make
sure the soil you plant them in is of sufficient acidity. Both plants grow best
in part shade.
Continue to put our winter
hardy seedlings. Be sure to loosen the roots of new seedlings and press into
carefully loosened natural soil so that the new plants will develop a strong
root system. Water transplants regularly. Plant warm season veggies like
tomatoes, peppers and corn after April 15th. Planting “high
sugar” or sugar sweet corn varieties should be delayed until May 1st,
because the seeds do not germinate in cold garden soils.
Begin planning the herbs
you would like to plant. Many local stores will have sold out by May, so you may
want to buy early if you have an appropriate place to keep them warm and moist
with room to spread. Begin choosing permanent locations for perennial herbs such
as chives, oregano, mint (all flavors, and some are very invasive), fennel,
horseradish, lemon balm, parsley, sage, thyme and tarragon. Rosemary and bay
leaf will winter over in this area, but may be kept in sheltered areas to guard
against winter ice storms.
This is an excellent time
to begin the process of dividing hostas, hardy mums and day lilies. Iris can be
dug and spread, but may not bloom the first year after division.
Turn compost and ready it
for new green material. It’s a good time to get a second bin started. As you
prepare your flowerbeds for planting, use well-rotted manure, processed manure,
peat moss or compost, as they are good additives for building compost humus in
the soil. It is not recommended to plant annuals until after May 15, the average
last frost-free date. And
speaking of compost, have you ever considered creating a worm farm?
Any kind of box that’s 1 foot tall and 1 by 2 feet will do.
Drill holes in the top, sides and bottom to provide air circulation and
drainage. Look for red worms in a
manure pile or under leaves in the woods, or you can buy red wigglers. The worms need good bedding of dampened, torn or shredded
paper, newspaper, cardboard, brown leaves, straw, peat moss, sawdust and hay.
They will eventually eat their bedding, since they eat half their weight
in food every day, so start with a cup of food every other day.
This food can be scraps of vegetation but not any dairy, fats or meat. These worms will process about 3 pounds of garbage a week,
providing you with worm fertilizer you can harvest every 2 or 3 months.
The hummingbirds are ready
to arrive, so prepare their solution (1 part sugar to 4 parts boiling
water….stir until sugar is completely dissolved, and cool before pouring into
feeder). DO NOT add food coloring. The red on the feeder is all they need.
shrubs like crepe myrtle after the last extremely cold weather, but before they
leaf out significantly. Prune spring-flowering shrubs like forsythia, weigela,
Japanese quince and lilac within two to three weeks after the last petals have
dropped. Prune these shrubs at the base (no more than a third of the oldest
growth) near the ground to help rejuvenate their growth and keep their flowering
Plant tender bulbs and
tubers (gladiola, lilies and dahlias). Plant additional gladiola bulbs every two
weeks until mid-June to ensure a continuous source of blooms. Dahlias can be
planted in a sunny location and in good rich, soft soil, as soon as the soil
warms up. Lilies can be planted in early spring and as soon as possible after
purchasing from a garden center. They can tolerate any early spring frosts
safely underground. They like soft soil, full sun, and don’t let them dry out
and shrivel up.
bulbs just after blooming. Use a complete fertilizer, such as 5-10-10 at a rate
of 2 pounds per 100 square feet. If you noticed smaller blooms on your bulbs
this spring, divide crowded planting as blooming finishes (especially
If you notice borers on
your iris, control it by using Dimethoate (Cygon 2E) when new growth is 6-9
inches in height, then as often as needed.
Stake clematis and any
other vines that could use the added support as new growth emerges and they
begin to flower.
Clean your pond or water
feature and remove winter debris. Cut back and remove all dead plant debris from
your potted aquatic plants. Begin feeding fish around mid-April.
Conifers, broadleaf and
narrow-leaf evergreens may be pruned anytime the wood is not frozen, but do not
prune back to old wood on the conifers. The best time to prune evergreens is
late winter or early spring before too much new growth starts.
If you want groundcovers,
good ones for this area are: Allegheny spurge, Alumroot, Foamflower, Partridge
berry, Pussytoes, Teaberry, Wild ginger and Sundrops, the latter for shade, and
the others for filtered shade. Other
ground covers for shade are Creeping phlox, Verbena, Dwarf crested iris and Wild
Hummingbirds begin returning around
the 10th and will come back to specific places where they found food the year
before. Male goldfinches begin to shed their winter drab, and dress up in fine
gold. Chickadees and tufted titmice will begin to nest, and woodpeckers will
begin their raucous calling and hammering.
You may also see Cardinals,
Brown Thrashers, a few Robins, Rufus-sided Towhees, Pileated Woodpeckers,
Red-bellied Woodpecker, Nuthatches, Pine siskins, Mourning Doves, Crows,
migrating Canada Geese, Ruby-throat Hummingbirds, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks,
American Coot, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Indigo Buntings, Eastern Bluebirds,
Chipping Sparrows, Starlings, Hairy Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Muscovy
Ducks, Mallard Ducks, Carolina Wrens, Wild Turkeys, Blue Jays, Red tailed Hawks,
Sharp-shinned Hawks, Purple Finch, American Coot, Mockingbirds, Yellow-rumped
(Myrtle) Warbler, Great Horned Owl, Grackle, Great Blue Heron, Scarlet Tanager,
Gray Catbird, Tree Swallow, Killdeer, Brown Headed Cowbird, Red-winged
Blackbird, Wood Ducks, Kingfishers, Dark-eyed Juncos, Song Sparrows,
Yellow-shafted Flickers, Great Crested Flycatchers, Cedar Waxwings, and House
Plants April blooms will include Violets, Bluets, Bleeding Hearts, Narcissus, Anemone, Periwinkle, Creeping Phlox, Candy Tuft, Azaleas, Wisteria, Pansies, Archangel ground cover, Ajuga ground cover, Lilies of the Valley, Lilacs, Pansies, Edelweiss, Wild Iris, late Tulips, Plum trees, Red Bud trees, Dogwood trees, Service Berry trees, Lady Slipper, and Violas. Cool weather vegetables are maturing nicely and green onions can be eaten.
information has been created by the Cumberland County Master Gardeners
Association, Crossville TN
This information has been created by the Cumberland County Master Gardeners Association, Crossville TN