April Checklist


            Continue planting warm season annuals and perennials. Caladiums should be available soon and make a good combination with Impatiens in the shady landscape. Plant heat-loving perennials and hand-water for a few weeks until established. Remember, rain and/or irrigation do not do a good job establishing newly planted plants. Work compost into the beds before planting and apply fertilizer such as Ladybug 8-2-4 or MicroLife 6-2-4 after planting.

Add large colorful pots of combination plantings to your landscape. Be sure to include tall, medium and trailing plants- also known as “the thriller, the filler and the spiller”!!!

Keep your tropicals such as Bougainvillea in plastic nursery pots, and set them down inside your decorative ceramic pots. This makes it easier to move them into a protected area when freezes come next winter

Check for insects such as Aphids, Caterpillars and Mealybugs regularly. Use Safer Insecticidal Soap, Spinosad Soap, Neem oil or Captain Jack’s Dead-bug Brew as organic options, or consult our staff for chemical options.

Outdoor containers should have drainage holes and should not have saucers under them. It is difficult to water correctly if the pot does not drain freely. Be sure to leave at least a 2” space between the top of the soil and the top of the pot-then you have a “reservoir” to fill with water each time you water. If you see bubbles when you fill the reservoir, you are not done yet! Fill the reservoir several times each time you water. See our YouTube video on watering potted plants  HERE.




April means warming soil, and it’s finally time to plant the “heat-loving” vegetables like Okra, Sweet Potatoes and Southern Peas.  Continue planting squash and cucumber this month. Wait until the soil warms towards the end of the month to plant corn. Plant corn in several short rows instead of one long row, as corn is wind-pollinated, and you will have a better crop with short rows.

Continue fertilizing pepper and tomato plants weekly with water soluble fertilizer such as Fox Farm Grow Big or Big Bloom, or Happy Frog Tomato and Vegetable slow release organic fertilizer. Spray undersides of tomato leaves with seaweed to ward off those pesky spider mites. Remove lower leaves on tomatoes as they grow to prevent fungal spores from splashing up from the soil and infecting plants.

Continue regulating moisture on all crops, especially tomatoes. The black bottoms which form on ripening tomatoes can be caused by fluctuating soil moisture which causes calcium not to be transported to the blossom end of the fruit.  This is called Blossom End Rot, and although it can also be caused by a Calcium deficiency, often watering habits are to blame. Soil-less mixes or hydroponically-grown tomatoes would be most susceptible to low calcium levels, while our Central Texas soils are generally high in calcium. Plants may even receive sufficient calcium from irrigation water.  Soil testing for nutrient levels is recommended every 2-3 years.



            Certain evergreen trees and shrubs will shed older leaves and needles when new growth appears in the spring. Magnolias, Photinia, Italian Cypress, Pine, Pittosporum, Abelia and Gardenia are some examples.  This is a natural process and is nothing to be concerned about. Consult one of our knowledgeable staff members if there is any doubt.

Prune any “once-blooming” shrubs, vines, or roses (Lady Banksia Rose, Spirea, Texas Mountain Laurel) soon after they finish blooming. The flower buds for next year will form in the coming months, and it is not recommended to prune during the summer months, as this will remove the flower buds for next year’s blooms.

Fertilize Azaleas and Camellias when their blooms fade away, using an acid-type fertilizer such as MicroLife Azalea or Happy Frog Acid Loving Plants fertilizer.

All shrubs, trees and perennials may be fertilized this month.  Organic Nitrogen is water-insoluble, and requires microorganisms to break it down to a usable form.  It is not necessary to water-in organic Nitrogen.



Fertilize lawns after you have mowed your lawn 2-3 times in the spring.  Organic fertilizers are slow-release and do not contribute to disease problems the way the high-nitrogen commercial fertilizers do.  Drought-stressed lawns should not be fertilized with a high–Nitrogen fertilizer, as their root systems would not be able to support the resulting growth spurt.

Regular mowing creates dense turf. Keep the mower blades sharpened, and mow often enough to avoid removing more than one third of the leaf blade.

Weeds should have been addressed in February, with both pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides. Avoid using “weed and feed “products on your lawn. Besides being inappropriate timing for a combination fertilizer and post-emergent herbicide, the granular post-emergent herbicide will harm tree roots and further weaken our already drought-stressed trees.  Remember, tree roots grow 1-1 ½ times the height of the tree out from the trunk! Your tree’s roots may even be in your neighbor’s yard, so be sure to talk to them about the evils of “weed and feed”!


Now is the time to thin fruit on your fruit trees to promote good size and quality of fruit. Leave one fruit every 4 inches for plums, and one fruit every 6-8 inches for peaches. Pears and apples produce fruit in clusters, and should be thinned to one fruit per cluster. I know this sounds crazy, but if you leave ALL the fruit the tree has produced on it to develop, the fruits will be small and of poor quality.

Fertilize fruit and nut trees now with MicroLife Citrus and Fruit organic fertilizer with beneficial mycorrhizal fungi. Repeat an application in 2 months.

Keeping your fruit trees irrigated while the fruit is producing is critical to producing a good crop of fruit. Established trees should receive about 1” of irrigation weekly, while newly planted trees should have their tree wells filled 2-3 times per week, depending on the temperature.

Happy Gardening, and as always, consult our knowledgeable staff for your gardening needs or questions!

By |2018-04-04T22:01:30+00:00April 4th, 2018|Uncategorized|

About the Author:

Mary Kay is an asset to Backbone and a wealth of knowledge! Many customers come in and ask for her by name for all their plant questions. It's no wonder why, as Mary Kay has 43 years of experience in the horticulture field. She holds a B.S. in Horticulture from Ohio State University, and a TMCNP and a TCLP from Texas Association of Nurserymen, and a Specialist in Urban Trees Certification from Texas A&M.