The Best Flowers and Plants for April

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April ushers in a time of renewed energy, providing the motivation to organize the garage, pack away winter mittens and clear out corner cobwebs. This is also a perfect time to give the garden a little extra attention before the rain descends.

The best time to plant is after the last frost, when soil temperatures reach 55 degrees. Spring plantings typically consist of perennial and annual bulbs and tubulars that bloom from late spring well into early fall. Most require a mulch line between three to five inches and should be planted fairly close together to give the garden a full look.

No matter where gardeners live, these five flower species are sure to provide pleasure during the next six months:

With its small puff of purple, pink or white flowers, the Allium is a hardy spring-to-summer flower that makes a beautiful addition to gardens and indoor arrangements. From a distance, the star-like cluster of dainty flowers resembles a lollipop. Growing to the size of a softball, Alliums are a perfect ornamental addition to short and medium height flowers.

The Blazing Star, or Gayfeather, is distinguished by its fluffy florets. The conical spike produces purple or white blossoms that uniquely flower from the top down. This perennial requires full sun and well-drained soil as oversaturation can kill the plant. A summer-to-fall flower, it should be planted in large clumps to attract butterflies, bees and birds. With a growth capacity of eight to 20 inches, the beautiful flower will last for weeks in a vase and is excellent for drying.

Gladiolus, which requires fertile, well-drained soil and full to partial shade, is a summer-to-fall flower available in more than 260 species. The cascading flower spikes and stiff, upright leaves are striking in both the garden and floral arrangements. Gladiolus can grow anywhere between 12 to 80 inches, so they may require staking and should be planted four to nine inches apart.

The beautiful Meadow Saffron is an extremely hardy, early-blooming tubular that produces distinctive purple buds. Growing to only seven to ten inches tall, this flower is perfect for filling in bare spots in the garden. The Meadow Saffron is also sometimes called the “naked lady” because the flowers emerge from the ground long after the leaves die.

April is also the perfect month to begin a summer vegetable and herb garden since nearly everything is ready to grow. Make sure the garden contains loose, nutrient-rich soil and is exposed to the full warmth of the sun. Most varieties will be ready to bring into the kitchen within three to five months.

Like flowers, cool-season vegetables should be planted in early April. These include asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chives, lettuce, onions, shallots and spinach. Warm-season varieties, including beans, beets, carrots, eggplants, peas and potatoes, as well as fruit, such as kiwis and berries, should be planted later in the month. Garlic, lavender and chives will provide a great natural repellent to insects and pests when planted around the outer edges of the garden.

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