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Heads-Up: Emerging Plants
One of the first perennials to shoot up from the ground this month is dicentra, commonly known as bleeding heart. The stems look a bit like peonies when they emerge, but they differ in that the entire plant will disappear by midseason. Choose a lime green variety to brighten up a shady corner of the garden and feel free to split one plant to make several. They're tough puppies.
Here is an emerging bleeding heart, also red but with more of a fringed point. The leaves are also a deep green.
April is the time to stay out of the garden for the most part. If the rains are heavy, don't step on your garden beds or you will compact the soil and possibly even take out small plants trying to emerge. Be careful while weeding, as many baby plants look very similar to their weedy cousins. Poppies are notorious in my garden for looking weedy and being ripped out. Leave well enough alone until you are able to clearly identify the plants.
If you do recognize weeds, be careful when pulling them out by the root. They often weave their roots in with the roots of your perennials, and pulling them out can uproot your plants. This new sedum plant is one year old and not firmly rooted. I snip weeds off at the stem around this plant to avoid uprooting it.
Enjoy the Beauty
The showstoppers of the garden are not yet in full force, but the opening act has definitely arrived. Enjoy the daffodils, tulips and other larger bulbs.
More flowering trees will start blooming. Magnolias, redbuds, pear and early cherry trees have opened, and the rest of the fruit trees are right behind. This is the worst time of year to spray chemicals on your fruit trees, because the bees will be heavily pollinating. Hold off a few weeks on any sprays and save the bees.
If you are in a cooler zone, it might be time for crocus. If you are in zone 6 (as I am), the show is over, but activity is still going on underground. Hold off mowing the grass if your crocus bulbs are in the lawn. The longer you allow the leaves to grow, the stronger and larger the bulbs will be for next year.
Once plants start emerging from the ground in spring, they are ready to be transplanted. This creeping sedum ('dragon's blood') is a good candidate for division. Simply dig up pieces of the plant with roots attached and plant the pieces elsewhere in your garden. The cloudy skies and abundant showers of April will help the newly transplanted babies get off to a good start.
You can also take cuttings from fall-blooming plants like this Montauk Daisy. When the buds start to open, the plant is in an active growing phase and will develop roots quickly when cut. Hardy plants like this can literally just be stuck into the ground and more than half will root without any help from you. Fussier plants may require rooting hormone, soilless starter pots and loads of attention.
Move Pantry Plants Outdoors
All the pantry plants you started off indoors over the winter can now start making the journey outdoors. Start with cold-hardy plants like beets and turnips, and save the ginger and potatoes for a little later in the month.
So enjoy the rain and the flowers, but keep your heavy feet out of the garden for now. Go ahead and reach into the beds to cut a few flowers or transplant a few perennials, but don't go traipsing all over the soil, which will pack it down, reducing the circulation of water and nutrients.
Take this time to build a cold frame or start more seeds. Notice the emerging plants in your garden and protect your plants from late frosts.
Show us: What's happening in your garden this month? Please post a photo below.
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