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Article: What to plant in April

What to plant in April
planting

What to plant in April

Actually, that should be what to sow in April as it’s a great time to sow your own summer bedding seeds.  You can enjoy the satisfaction of growing something yourself as well as saving a little money buying seeds compared to the cost of small plants!

 April is officially spring and, around here in the south of England, the risk of frosts and cold snaps is much reduced.  This means that you can get on and sow fruit, vegetable and flower seeds in earnest.  Most will be better started indoors to give them a gentler beginning, but some can be sown in situ now too. Here’s our guide to the traditional and not-so traditional plants that will make beautiful summer bedding in your garden, and how to get them growing.

Hardy annuals

A hardy annual is a plant that can withstand frosts and cold weather without the need for protection but which only flower for one season/year.  We’d include such well-loved summer bedding plants as Nasturtium, Alyssum, Iberis (candytuft) and Nigella (Love-in-a-mist).  Because they are hardy, you can sow these seeds directly where you want them to grow now, or plant in pots or seed trays and transplant them later.  Ensure the soil is weed- and lump-free, sow the seeds finely then cover with a light layer of sieved soil or compost.  Gently firm the soil and water lightly to ensure good contact between the seeds and soil.  If you are sowing directly, be sure to mark the spot so you don’t accidently weed or over-plant them!

Half-hardy annuals

Many more of our summer bedding favourites would be damaged by frost so are better sown indoors or under cover at this time of year.  These include Nicotiana (ornamental tobacco), Nemesia, Petunia, Calendula (marigold) and cosmos.  Lobelia are often grown as annuals but some varieties are actually perennial.  With some care and protection over the winter, you may find that you can keep Salvia’s flowering for more than one year, although they are often grown as annuals too.  Start half-hardy annuals off now in pots or seed trays indoors, either in a heated greenhouse or on a bright windowsill in the house.  Keep them moist until they start to grow, then gradually acclimatise them to outside temperatures.  They should be ready to plant into their final spot around the end of May.

Tender or half-hardy perennials

Begonia, Pelargonium and Limnanthes are among the summer bedding plant classics and they are all perennial plants; you should be able to over-winter them and enjoy their flowers year on year.  Sow their seeds now as an investment for next summer.  Pelargoniums, for example, can take up to 15 weeks to flower from seed so you might want to treat them like a biennial; any flowers this year will be a bonus!  Once again, sow thinly in pots or seed trays, lightly cover, firm and water in.  You may prefer to leave them in pots or hanging baskets, rather than planting them directly in your borders, to make it easier to bring them in when the weather turns colder.

Hardy perennials

Although we usually think of summer bedding as ‘one season wonders’, we’d urge you to look at the range of spectacular summer-flowering hardy perennials too.  Geranium (cranesbill), Monarda (also known as Bee Bane and Bergamot), Echinacea, Salvias, Nepeta (cat mint) and Dianthus (pinks) all have pretty, insect-friendly flowers, are often scented and will come back year after year.  They also have the advantage of being more drought-resistant than their annual ‘cousins’.  You can sow their seeds now, too.  Sow one or two seeds per small pot or module so save on wastage and keep protected until they have germinated.  Acclimatise to outside temperatures gradually and plant out in late May or June.

Don’t forget your summer bulbs too!

If you’re looking for glorious flowers this summer, we’d also recommend planting some bulbs, corms and rhizomes too. Dahlia, Freesia and Gladioli – amongst others – can provide really show-stopping displays and often at greater height than bedding plants, helping to bring greater dimension to your beds and borders.

We’re currently running a great deal on summer bulbs and our vegetable packs so you can mix and match your bulbs with purchases of rhubarb, garlic, potatoes, onions and asparagus if you like.  Each summer bulb or veg pack is £ 2.49 each or buy any 3 for just £5.

Further Reading

When to sow seeds for vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs

https://hambrooksgardencentre.co.uk/blogs/what-to-plant/time-to-sow-seeds

Advice on sowing seeds

https://hambrooks.co.uk/seed-sowing-guide/

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