April is usually a busy month in the garden as there are many tasks that need to be done. I am not going to mention all of them but will touch on some of the ones you may not know about or are confused about. Most have to do with timing. That is, when do I do what?

          1. Crabgrass control:          We have had some warm temperatures but it is still too early to apply pre-emergence Crabgrass control. Crabgrass control with slow release fertilizer should be put on around Arbor Day (4th Friday in April ). The active ingredient in Scotts Halts, Ace Hardware, Menards, and many other store brands is either Team, or pendimethalin. Orscheln Crabgrass Preventer Plus has Dimension as the active ingredient. These three chemicals (Team, pendimethalin, & Dimension) only have a residual of about 60 days so a second application is required in June to control late germinating crabgrass and to control spurge and foxtail that does not germinate until June or early July. Earl May, Ferti-lome and some other brands use Barricade which has a residual of about 90 days and only one application is needed for season long control as long as you put the right product on at the right time. If you have a lawn service, be sure and ask what product is being applied and will a second application be needed. And make sure it is not put on too early or you will start to have crabgrass in your lawn in late July. For maximum effectiveness they should not apply any crabgrass control product until after April 1st. If the product you use has fertilizer with it, make sure it contains slow release nitrogen and also contains iron. Corn Gluten is an organic preemergence herbicide with a residual of 5 to 6 weeks and natural slow release nitrogen. Remember, you can not plant grass seed and put on pre-emergence crabgrass control unless you use Tupersan (siduron).

          2. ROSES: Jane Frisch is the editor of the Lincoln Rose Society newsletter. She gave some good advice in the March issue and gave me permission to reprint it for you. “Mid April is the time to plant, uncover and prune roses.  However, if we get a really nice day and you just can’t stay inside, get out your loppers and cut off those ugly black canes above your winter protection mound, (don’t cut into green wood). Those canes are completely dead so will not start re-growth.  That will come later (in April ) when you will want to prune down to white wood inside canes.”

          “Mancozeb is a good fungicide to spray the canes and soil after you prune.  That seems to kill blackspot spores that lurk in the mulch.”

Reprinted by permission from the Lincoln Rose Society “THE ROSE LEAF”, March 2009, Jane Frisch , editor)

          3. ASPARAGUS AND ORNAMENTAL GRASS: If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to cut down your asparagus and ornamental grass canes. Both should be removed all the way to the ground before new green shoots start coming up. For ease of clean up, tie up the canes with string or cord before cutting. My asparagus canes cut very easy and were ground up in my electric grinder and put in the compost pile. The ornamental grass (Miscanthus sinensis) that I use to hide my compost piles and grows 6 to 7 feet tall, took the loppers. These canes also ended up in the compost pile. Be aware that if you don’t have a grinder or don’t chop them up with a mower, these canes take a long time to decompose in the compost pile. Also, most grasses need to be divided at least every 4 to 5 years.

          4. PRUNE CHRISTMAS CACTUS: Do you ever prune your Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter cactus? I have all three kinds of cacti. My Easter cactus is about done blooming now. The others did at the appropriate time.  New blooms are found each year on new growth so now is the time to prune. You don’t have to prune them as they will develop new growth from the terminal ends of the stems. However, I like to have small and very bushy plants so I pinch off some of the growth each year back to a node. I try to go back to a node where I have two leaves coming out. This keeps my plant small and bushy so I can display them in the living room. Also these cacti do not like to be repotted and are not real cactus so need a regular good potting mix and not a cactus mix. After pruning I start fertilizing for the summer so I have good growth and lots of blooms.

          On the radio last Sunday a retired Extension Educator that gardens in zone #5 (same as southeast and south central Nebraska ), gave the following suggestions:

·        Prune at least one node in April .

·        Place outside on Memorial Day.

·        Bring inside on Labor Day and put in a dark location for 4 to 6 weeks to stimulate flowering.

·        Repot every 10 years.

·        Feed all summer long with a water soluble fertilizer.

5. Amaryllis: Another question I get this time of year is, “What do I do with my Amaryllis now?” I have one new Amaryllis plant that bloomed during the holidays. When the flower died I cut the stock off, then took the plant to the walkout basement and placed it with the houseplants growing in front of the south window.  The long strap like leaves I left as they are feeding the bulb so I will have big large blooms next year. They are wimpy so I have them staked and tied so they don’t fall over. I fertilize during the winter with a water soluble fertilizer after the bloom has died. I will plant it outside in the flower garden in a filtered shade location about Memorial Day. Sometimes I put pot and all in the flower garden. This fall we will tell you how to take care of your plant for the winter.

Copyright 2009