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April in the Garden

Floral Designer's Plant of the Month

Iris sibirica  commonly known as Siberian Iris

A wonderful cut flower that is so lovely it almost makes an arrangement by itself in a bud vase. Siberian iris are a very hardy iris that does well in the humid South. Itforms a clump of grass- like foliage that lasts through the growing season. The flowers come in April, massing elegantly on slender stems that rise above the foliage. They prefer average, medium to wet soil and part shade to flourish and will tolerate boggy conditions. They also tolerate our clay soils and summer droughts because the roots go so deep. Be sure to plant so the rhizomes are just on the surface.

Popular pass-along cultivars are the deep purple ‘Ceasar’s Brother’ which is still popular though it is an old, award-winning variety because few others can rival its deep, pansy-violet coloring and exceptional vigor.

Checklist for the Garden

Last frost is usually around April 9th in Raleigh.

Let spring bulb foliage die down naturally, but remove flower heads. Plant daylilies, hostas, and other plants with my bulbs, so that the fading leaves are hidden a bit when the succeeding plant begins growing.

Prune and fertilize azaleas, camellias and rhododendron after they bloom and refresh mulch.

 Deadhead pansy blooms and lightly fertilize for spring display.

While you're in the woods (or in your natural garden area), step lightly and keep an eye out for bloodroot, bleeding heart, Jack-in-the-pulpit and, if you are lucky, Trillium.

 Herbs. Plant most herbs after the frost period has passed. (Save the basil until the soil has warmed up)

Annuals. Transplant annual flowers after mid-month and direct sow seeds.

Seed Starting. During the first week or two of April, you can still start warm weather flowers and vegetables indoors, like zinnias, asters, marigolds, sage, tomatoes and peppers. If I don't get them started by then, I just wait and direct seed the flowers in late April.

Perennials. If you have tall perennials, like hollyhocks dahlias, and peonies, it's time to think of giving them a helping hand with a stake or support. Small tomato cages work for peonies.

 Divide summer perennials such as daisies, asters, hostals & phlox.

Fertilize Your Fruit and Nut Trees. Also vines and bushes, such as blackberries, grapes, raspberries and blueberries (careful! Blueberries are very shallow rooted). Figs, maybe the easiest fruit crop to grow organically, do not need fertilizing.

·Roses. Cut canes back to just above a strong new shoot when bud growth starts, on strong growing plants. For weaker growers, go easier, just remove diseased wood and pinch back on top.

Earlier Event: March 1
March in the Garden
Later Event: May 1
May in the Garden