Watch your garden light up with bulbs, go wild for wildflowers and be kind to wildlife visitors
From our partners at Houzz
Welcome April Blooms
The larger bulbs take center stage in the garden in April, beginning with daffodils, such as these sturdy Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’. They shrug off the occasional April snow. Planting daffodils with early-, mid- and late-season blooms extends the show.
Daffodils provide the most bang for the buck, as they are poisonous and mammals do not eat them, and they return reliably. They can be rejuvenated by dividing crowded clumps.
While it wouldn’t be spring without large tulips, the small-species tulips, such as this Tulipa humilis var. violacea, are more perennial. Like larger tulips, small species need protection from deer, rabbits and squirrels.
Minor bulbs squill (Scilla siberica), grape hyacinth(Muscari sp) and glory of the snow (Chionodoxa sp) make good companions for larger bulbs.
Woody plants begin blooming in April, starting with forsythia(shown) and continuing with flowering quince (Chaenomeles spp) and the native serviceberry(Amelanchier canadensis).
Forsythias look best in their natural form. There is no need to shear them to maintain size when there are many good dwarf cultivars available to fit in the smallest garden without pruning.
Cherish Woodland Natives
Now is the perfect time to head to your nearest wooded area, be it a park, arboretum, botanical garden or nature area, to see woodland wildflowers in all their glory.
Native spring ephemerals sprout and bloom under trees before they leaf out, including the tiny trout lily (Erythronium albidum), a species related to the showy exotic dog-tooth violet(Erythronium dens-canis), which also blooms in April.
Similarly, bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) blooms in April, and its foliage can persist into autumn to turn butter yellow under suitably moist conditions.
Remember April Garden Tasks
Sow cool-season annuals and edibles. It’s time to sow cool-season annuals and crops, such as this ‘Merlot’ lettuce (Latuca sativa), spinach (Spinacia oleracea), kale (Brassica oleracea) and peas (Pisum sativum). These cool-season edibles can be sown in containers for an earlier crop.
Make certain the soil is workable before digging. To determine whether the soil is workable, gather a small amount into a ball in your hand. If it breaks apart easily, digging may begin. If, however, the soil remains in a lump, working it would damage its structure, and compacted soil hinders a plant’s ability to grow.
Plant spring annuals in containers. If a trip to the garden center makes you unable to wait for the soil to be workable, plant spring annuals, such as pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) and Persian buttercup (Ranunculus asiaticus, shown), wallflowers (Erysium), stock (Matthiolia longipetala) and snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) in containers.
Once the soil is workable, perennials from the garden can be added to the containers for a season-long display.
Butterflies make their first appearance in April, such as this painted lady on squill (Scilla siberica). Leave bare small areas of slightly depressed soil in the garden where butterflies can drink from mud puddles. Allow some native violets (Viola sororia) to remain in the lawn for frittilary butterflies to use as host plants.
Migrating hummingbirds reach the Great Lakes in April. Hang out feeders for them now.
- Put plain sugar water in the feeders; do not use anything with red dye in it, which can harm them.
- Change the nectar every three or four days in cool weather and every day once temperatures reach the 80s.
- Remember to hang the feeders in the same location each year so that the hummingbirds can find them.
Clean nest boxes for other birds and provide nonsynthetic lint, string or hair in netting bags for birds to use as nesting materials.
Take time to observe the garden and its occupants every day: Things change so quickly in April, you can almost see the plants growing.