Donna’s Garden Tips For April

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Encourage you pansies to continue to bloom by pruning off blooms as they start to fade.

purple pansies


Check variegated euonymus shrubs for euonymus scale. Treat infested plants with horticultural oil or Insecticidal Soap early in the season. Euonymus scale looks like masses of small white dots on the undersides of leaves.

euonymus shrub

Euonymus Shrub

Watch for signs of fire blight in apple and pear trees. Branches will look black and sometimes they will have a shepherd’s crook bend on the end of the branch. Prune out affected areas, dipping pruners in a 1:8 parts bleach solution after each cut.

damage from fire blight

Fire Blight Damage

Have you ever had your lawn mower blades sharpened? Sharp blades make for a better looking cut and also prevent wounds in grass blades where potential diseases can enter the plant.

lawn mower

Lawn Mower

Start watching for worms on cool season plants such as cabbage and broccoli. Use a spray containing Spinosad for good control. Spinosad is an organic product.

worm damaged cabbage plant

Worm Damage on Cabbage

The only way to get a good fruit harvest from your home orchard is to spray regularly, starting at petal drop. Use a generic fruit tree spray. They contain a fungicide as well as an insecticide. Follow the directions on the label spray timing.

apple tree

Apple Tree

After allowing houseplants to rest during the winter months, it is time to wake them up. Apply a slow release houseplant food to get them growing again.

zz plant in container

House Plant

Don’t get ahead of yourself by planting annuals and tender garden plants outside too early. We can and probably will have another couple of frosts. Our last predicted frost date for Morganton is around April 15-20 but it can be much later. Be patient and wait for the first of May.

photo of annual flowers

Annual Flowers

Be sure to label new plants so that if something that needs a pollinator should die, you’ll know which cultivar to replace.

tree with plant tag

Fruit Tree Tag

Young, tender growth on plants is the favorite meal of aphids. These tiny, many colored insects cluster on flower buds and other new growth. Watch for deformed foliage, and ants. Aphids give off honey-dew which is sweet and attractive to ants. Apply an insecticidal soap or use a water hose to wash the pests off the foliage (only a temporary fix).

aphids on a plant


It’s time to plant summer-flowering bulbs such as cannas, gladiolas and dahlias. Follow the planting depth on the package and make sure the site is well-drained and weed-free.

summer flowers

Summer Flowers

Be on the lookout for cutworms in the vegetable garden. This night-feeding insect comes out to feed at night and wraps itself around tender stems, chewing them in half. Put a small stick next to the stem or an aluminum foil collar around the stem at the soil line. It works great!

young plant with small stick next to stem

Stick next to stem

photo of cutworm


young plant with foil collar

Foil Collar

When applying mulch, use mulch that is aged. Mulch or chips from recently cut trees pulls nitrogen from the soil to help in its decomposition process, robbing plants of the nitrogen that they need for growth.

pile of mulch


I know you want to get those tomatoes and peppers in the ground but wait another week. We are still in the frost danger zone and plants will fare much better if they aren’t subjected to cold temperatures and damaging frosts. May 1 is a good target date for planting unless you live at Jonas Ridge. You folks should hold off until mid-May!

tomato plant with frost on it

Frost on Tomato Plant

Resist the urge to fertilize azaleas and rhododendrons until after they finish blooming and DO NOT prune them until after they have bloomed.

azaleas in bloom


Don’t panic at the tent caterpillar nests in the trees. They don’t do any kind of damage at all and they don’t eat leaves. Sprays won’t affect them while they are in the nests. If you can poke a hole in the webbing, birds will enjoy a feast!

catepillars in web tent

Catepillar Tent

Never take off more than a third of the lawn at one mowing. Cutting too closely will cause damage to the grass crown and thinning of the lawn can occur. Fescue lawns should be cut at 3 1/2 to 4 inches to maintain good lawn health.

man mowing lawn


Plant tomatoes deep in the ground. Any of the stem that is underground will form roots giving the plant more drought tolerance.

planting tomatoes

Planting Tomatoes

Give the kids something to do while they’re home. Have a dandelion scavenger hunt. Whoever picks the most dandelion flowers gets a prize-and keeps the flowers from going to seed!

child picking dandelions


DO NOT fertilize fescue lawns now. If you haven’t done it by now, wait for the fall.

someone spreading fertilizer


Prune evergreen ornamental shrubs as needed.

man pruning evergreen shrub

Pruning Shrubs

Do not fertilize strawberries in the spring. This can cause soft fruit.

ripe strawberries


The best time to kill poison ivy is from mid-May through mid-June (while in bloom). Use a brush killer herbicide.

poison ivy in bloom

Poison Ivy