The Green Thumb Corner

By Victoria Klaas

April 2018



Greetings, Green Thumbers!

April is the month when spring and early summer flowers overlap with an abundance of beauty. Together they produce an awesome display. It is also the month when garden plants grow the most.  Be prepared to do the following:

Prune roses following the first bloom.  While rose flowers are beautiful, the shrub itself is gangly if not properly maintained. Keep the bushes a manageable size and remember that most roses bloom only on new wood. Pruning induces new canes for subsequent blooms.

Fertilize blooming plants including fruit trees before the return of hot weather. Many fertilizer products include pest or weed control that are very effective and labor saving. Administer iron and an acidic fertilizer to yellow Gardenias, Hydrangeas, or Azaleas.

Increase the volume of water. This is important if the weather is windy or exceptionally dry.

Pinch and trim any shrubs or trees you wish to keep smaller than six feet

Pull weeds as soon as you see them.

Caterpillars, aphids, and snails will become troublesome now. For caterpillars, use "Safer" or "Attack." The active ingredient listed should be Thuricide or Dipel. This is not a poison but a caterpillar disease. Avoid planting on ornamentals if you desire to attract butterflies.

Prevent fungus, several times a week hose off foliage in the morning to wash off spores. To treat it, spray foliage with 1 tablespoon baking soda plus 1 tablespoon canola oil to a gallon of water.

This is a good time to release Decollate snails into your garden to control obnoxious brown garden snails. They are VERY effective weapons and may be purchased at nurseries or online.

Cut ornamental grasses to within three or four inches of the soil to eliminate the dead, straw like “thatch” which forms during the cold months.

Do not prune off foliage of spring bulbs even though they are past blooming. These leaves continue to feed the bulbs underground.

This is a good time to plant subtropical plants such as Bougainvillea or Hibiscus. Want to plant a garden? Plants grown for their fruits (peppers, tomatoes, etc.) should be planted now.  Vegetables grown for their leaves or roots (e.g. cabbage or carrots) dislike heat and will rush to bloom rather than produce an edible vegetable.  Leafy and root vegetables should be planted in the fall.

Check out all of the interesting events at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.

Happy Gardening!

"My rule of green thumb for purchasing mulch is to double my initial estimate of bags needed and add three. Then I'll only be two bags short."
~ Author Unknown