Horticulture Tips for April

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
Spring has come on hard and fast this year. While our average last freeze date is still two weeks away, it’s going to be difficult to hold our gardens back much longer, especially if the forecast holds and we get much needed rainfall. Consider the following tips to help increase your chances of a successful growing season. Just keep the possibility of a freeze in the back of your mind for at least a few more weeks:
  • Despite the short term rain prospects, remember that we are still in a drought. Also keep in mind that rainfall amounts can be very spotty with spring storms. If the news reports heavy rainfall amounts, verify it in your own garden before you make assumptions. As plants begin to leaf out, their water needs will increase dramatically, especially on windy days. Continue to monitor soil moisture conditions and water as needed.
  • Delay Bermuda and Zoysia lawn fertilization until the soil really begins to warm up. Late April to early May is not too late for our region.
  • April is a good time to fertilize Tall fescue. Under ideal conditions, fescue should receive two applications of nitrogen in the spring, spaced about 30-60 days apart. Do not fertilize fescue from June through August as this will only lead to excessive disease development.
  • For apple growers, monitor cedar apple rust on neighboring cedar trees. If you see significant numbers of cedar-apple galls (a large orange growth that resembles a Christmas ornament), be prepared to spray your apple trees with an appropriate fungicide.
  • Insects typically begin showing up in-mass in April. Monitor your garden and landscape regularly, as insect problems are much easier to address when they are noticed early. Also remember that just because an insect is present does not mean it is a problem. See OSU publication E-1023 Conserving Beneficial Arthropods in Residential Landscape for an enlightening look at helpful gardening insects.
  • Speaking of insects, don’t forget an insecticides possible effect on bees when you are treating for pests in your garden. Please read all pesticide labels carefully before using, even those labeled organic or bee-friendly. Depending on the product, it’s bee friendliness can simply be a matter of the proper timing of an application.
  • If you are interested in pecan grafting, mark your calendar for April the 20th, 6:30pm, and join the Payne County Extension office as we host Mr. Dick Hoffman, of Hoffman Pecans, as he leads a free clinic on pecan grafting. During the presentation, Dick will also share some secrets he’s picked up along the way in a lifetime of growing and grafting pecans. The program will be held in the Heritage Building of the Payne County Expo Center. While the event is free and open to all, we do ask that you contact the Extension office and let us know you are coming so we can adequately prepare.

For more information on this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at keith.reed@okstate.edu, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.

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