Pots & Borders
- Cut off old flowering shoots and flowers from Miscanthus grasses. Rake dead leaves out of other evergreen grasses to thin them out and to allow new shoots to come through unhindered.
- It’s time to sow Ageratum, Alyssum, Antirrhinum, Asters, Begonias, Marigolds, Pansies, Petunias, Stocks and many other flowers in a cold frame or greenhouse.
- Cell or plug packs are becoming increasingly popular for raising young plants. You can sow or transplant seedlings directly into them. When it comes to transplanting or planting out there is little or no root disturbance.
- Apply a general fertiliser to all beds and borders, Vitax Q4 or Blood, Fish and Bonemeal are good choices.
- Divide overcrowded clumps of herbaceous perennials, discarding the older central part and replanting the younger more vigorous outer sections.
- Make a concerted effort to get on top of weeds now, they are about to make a serious spurt of growth! Remove by hand or spray with the weed killer Resolva 24H.
- Time to get planting new herbaceous perennial plants. Astrantia, Anemone, Campanula, Echinacea, hardy Geranium, Rudbeckia and Verbenas are the most popular varieties at the moment.
- Plant ornamental grasses and hardy ferns [or lift, divide and replant existing ones] and mix them in with your shrubs and perennials.
- Buy net pot plants of tender perennials and pot them on with a bit of frost protection. Varieties such as Argyranthemum, Diascia, Nemesia, Verbena, Bacopa and masses of others will flower all summer and represent fantastic value.
- Remove dead flower heads from Pansies and Violas. This will encourage more blooms and prevent seeding. Look out for aphid and if seen spray with Bug Clear insecticide.
- Gather sticks or buy plant supports and get them in place around perennials that tend to need support. Well sell traditional pea sticks.
- Top dress alpine plants with horticultural grit to ensure that there is fast drainage around the base of the plant.
Trees, Shrubs, Roses, Conifers, etc.
- Cut dogwoods [Cornus alba types] and willows [Salix] that are grown for brightly coloured winter stems down to almost ground level now. This encourages young new shoots that always have the best colour.
- Protect newly emerging Clematis shoots from attack from snails, especially those growing low down. Gypsophylla and Hosta will also benefit from a slug killer now. Slugs that live in the soil chew shoots off as they try to emerge. Mice also strip the bark from Clematis to line their nests now.
- Prune most roses now, [climbing, rambling and shrub roses are best pruned in summer after the main flush of flower]. Cut back to 6-8″ from the ground and cut just above a bud, prune out any branches that are crossing to leave an open centre. Remove any root suckers as close to the roots as possible (neatly tearing them off discourages more). Cut out any weak, dead or diseased shoots.
- Start spraying roses for blackspot, rust and aphids with Roseclear 3 as soon as the leaves appear. Early spraying is essential!
- There is still time to transplant evergreen shrubs before it is too late but remember to disturb the roots as little as possible and keep as much soil attached to them as you can. Don’t be afraid to trim the tops back a little as this will definitely help establishment. Be sure to water thoroughly and regularly throughout this year.
- If you haven’t done it already, prune Buddlejas back to about waist height and trim Lavatera [Tree Mallows] back to healthy new shoots.
- Prune hardy Fuchsias back to strong new shoots. Tidy up straggly Penstemons. Give them all a feed with Vitax Q4 general fertiliser.
- Prune late flowering shrubs back hard now. Caryopteris, Ceratostigma, Perovskia, hardy Fuchsia, deciduous Ceanothus, Hydrangea paniculata types and Lavatera.
- If you grow Eucalyptus for its blue foliage, you should cut it back hard now. The golden Catalpa and purple Cotinus can be cut hard too.
- Prune all side shoots on winter flowering Jasmine back hard. ‘Japonicas’ [Chaenomeles] can be cut back when they finish flowering too.
- Lift crowded snowdrops, carefully divide and replant. Avoid breaking their delicate roots if possible.
- Start large flowered and cascading Begonia corms into growth by planting them on the surface of multipurpose compost in warmth now. Plant the indented concave side upwards as this is where the shoots will appear.
- Remove flower heads from daffodils as they finish flowering. A liquid feed with a liquid tomato fertiliser helps next years flowers to form now.
- Remove faded flowers from Hippeastrum [Amarylis]. Keep feeding and watering until leaves go yellow and die down then stop so that the bulb can rest. These are best kept inside.
- Hang Agralan Yellow Sticky Whitefly pads up in your greenhouse and conservatories now. These will act like fly papers and are completely non toxic to humans. If you introduce natural predators to control your pests, you must take these pads down, because they will trap the good guys as well as the pests!
- Re-pot Fuchsias, Pelargoniums and other over-wintered tender plants. Cut away any dead shoots and prune back to strong shoots near the base where ever possible.
- Top dress Citrus fruits with new compost. Repot those that need it. Use special Citrus compost for this.
- Transplant seedlings into larger containers as soon as they are big enough to handle.
- Buy grow bags and put them inside to warm up before planting.
- Buy and pot up Canna Lilies. These are very easy and becoming very popular again.
- Prune Bougainvillea quite hard now. Jasmine and Plumbago can be thinned out by removing the oldest shoots.
- Open the ventilators on warm days.
- Remove the bubble polythene and make sure that the glass is as clean as possible.
The Inside Garden
- Pot indoor plants into bigger pots but check that they need it first! Gently knock the plant out of the pot and, if the roots are covering most of the compost, the plant will benefit from moving into a pot one or two sizes bigger. If they aren’t yet then wait a while. Increase frequency of feeding using a high nitrogen feed for plants grown for their attractive leaves and high potash feed for those grown for their flowers.
- Indoor Azaleas should be kept cool and watered with rain water regularly. Start to feed them when new shots appear. In May they can be put outside for summer.
- Remove spent flowers from Hippeastrum [Amaryllis]. Keep feeding and watering until the leaves start to go yellow and die down.
Grow Your Own Food
- Show Parsnip seeds into a firm fine seedbed. I find F1 Gladiator does well and has good resistance to canker.
- Sow tomato, pepper and cucumber seed for delicious fresh home grown vegetables from a greenhouse. Sow for growing outside in about 6 week’s time.
- You should also sow Carrots, Peas, Broad Beans, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Radish, Lettuce, Sprouts, and many other vegetables.
- Early varieties of seed potatoes can be planted out in sheltered spots now but delay planting maincrop varieties until the end of the month.
- Protect early flowers on peaches, nectarines and apricots from frost. A curtain of polythene may be all that is needed. Hand pollinate blooms with a very soft brush.
- Apply a feed of Sulphate of Potash and Growmore fertiliser around the roots of fruit [unless you did this last month].
- Apply mulch around newly planted trees but keep a gap around the trunk. Fruit bushes and canes will benefit too.
- Plant grape vines now. Our local soil suits them if well drained. Plant in the sunniest place.
- Prune Blueberry bushes by removing weak, old and dead shoots. Cut out up to 25% of all wood.
- Plant strawberry runners if you missed autumn planting.
- Cover established strawberry runners with low polytunnels or fleece covered tunnels. Lift the sides slightly on warm days to let the bees in to pollinate the flowers.
- Spray pears that have been attacked by pear midge in the past. Use Scotts Bug Clear.
- The first spray of fungicide should be applied to protect apples from scab.
- Check that your asparagus beds are well earthed-up. The first shoots should be appearing very soon.
- Early sown peas will need support. We still sell traditional hedgerow pea sticks.
- Remove yellowing leaves from brassicas regularly. These may be suffering from downy mildew and can carry this disease over to re-infect new crops. There is no chemical control for this disease but our fresh brewed Compost Tea will keep it in check.
- Divide and replant overcrowded clumps of herbs.
- Sow parsley, chervil, chives, fennel and marjoram. Coriander can be sown under cover.
Lawns, Hedges, Paths and Drives
- Apply the first combined feed, weed and moss killer dressing to your lawn at the end of this month. Use Westland Feed, Weed and Mosskiller*. Now available the Westland Spreader, to apply the easy and accurate way.
- Where moss is a problem on lawns, apply Vitax Green-Up Mossfree* or the newer biological Mo Bacter control that we stock.
- Mow the grass on dry days.
- Top-dress hollows with turf dressing compost.
- Roll lawns [slowly!] to even out bumps. This is especially effective when the soil is moist.
- Reshape lawn edges using a sharp half moon turf knife. Consider installing lawn edging to support the edges.
Soils, Mulching, Weed Control, etc.
- Mulch the ground around plants with chipped bark or mushroom compost to suppress weeds and conserve water
Ponds, Wildlife, Pets and Bog Plants
- Remove or switch off the water heater, turn on the pump and start feeding the fish