With a bit of sunshine and warmth sowings of vegetable and flower seed can germinate and develop quickly, particularly in a greenhouse or on a window sill. Make sure you prick out seedlings before they get too leggy.
As it gets warmer, make sure that young plants have adequate moisture. Check seedlings daily – they should be shaded from strong sunlight, but can still dry out very quickly and if they wilt they may well not recover.
Frosts are still possible, so keep on the alerts so you can protect any vulnerable plants.
Old hydrangea flower heads that were left on to provide winter protection should now be removed – take care not to knock off the new buds.
Note the different ways of pruning the various types of hydrangea.
Deadhead daffodils as they go over, also removing the seed capsule behind the flower, so that the plant’s energy goes into the bulb, rather than into seed production, unless you want them to self-seed (the wild daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus spreads primarily by seed).
Do not cut back or tie up the leaves – leave them to feed the bulbs for a good show next year; help this by applying a potash rich liquid feed, such as tomato fertiliser.
Where bulbs have been naturalised in grass, leave for 6 weeks from the end of flowering before mowing.
There’s still time to plant lilies in containers for a glorious summer display.
Pots & tubs benefit from topping up with fresh compost. If there is not much room, remove the old compost to a depth of 5 cm (2 in) and replace with new.
Pot on plants showing signs of being pot-bound. Tip out the root balls of unhappy looking plants to see whether they are just pot-bound or suffering from some other problem, such as vine weevil.
Aphids may be already making an appearance.
Check new shoots, particularly on roses, so that any aphids can be rubbed off before they build up to become a significant problem.
Cut back the old growth of penstemon late April when it will have done its job of protecting the plant against the worst of the winter.
This will allow new growth to develop from the base and will prevent the plant becoming woody & leggy.
Some flowers self-seed profusely (e.g. forget-me-nots, foxgloves, aquilegias), often with welcome results.
However, they can easily smother other plants, so remove unwanted plants to avoid overcrowding; you may be able to use them elsewhere in the garden.
Wildlife in the garden
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