No Fooling Garden Tasks for April
1. Save your Easter lily.
2. Deadhead faded daffodils and tulips, but allow their foliage to die back gradually.
3. Cut back groundcovers.
4. Mow your grass in a way that encourages healthy growth.
5. Apply compost to garden beds and containers.
At a loss as to what to do with the potted lily you received or purchased for Easter? The white variety generally forced for the holiday is Lilium longiflorum, which is hardy in USDA zones higher than 4 and naturally blooms in mid-summer in the garden. So you can save your lily if you live in those zones, probably even in zone 4 if you mulch it a bit.
After the plant has finished blooming, snip off its faded trumpets and begin to accustom it gradually to more sunlight, caring for it as you would other houseplants. When all threat of frost has passed, move it outdoors, placing it in a shady position first and shifting it gradually into the sun.
Once it has grown accustomed to those rays, remove it from its pot and plant it in a sunny, well-drained position, digging a hole deep enough that the top of the lily’s bulb will be 6 inches beneath the soil’s surface.
The foliage may have begun to die back by that time. However, as long as the bulb feels firm, it still is alive. It may bloom again late in the growing season or wait until the following summer to do so.
Die-back on other types of bulbs can look like a problem as well. Although it may be tempting to cut off the yellowing foliage of daffodils and tulips after they bloom, please don’t do that! Those leaves’ absorption of sunlight provides energy to the bulbs, which they will need to bloom well the following year.
So, although you should snip off the faded flowers, you need to let the foliage die back at its own pace if you want your bulbs to be perennial. Speaking of snipping, your groundcovers probably are looking tattered about now.
You can give them a quick “pruning” by mowing off their tops—with your mower deck at its highest setting. However, this probably isn’t a good idea for groundcovers which bloom in the spring, such as Vinca species, since it could set back their flowering.
You’ll want to leave that mower deck fairly high while mowing your lawn. To keep it naturally healthy, avoid buzz cuts, and mow your grass so that it stands a lush 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall.
(You can make exceptions for zoysia grass and bermuda grass which should be cut to 2 inches and 1 inch respectively.) For the best results, keep your mower blades sharp and mow your grass only when it is dry, preferably in late afternoon before evening dew begins to fall.
If you leave the grass clippings lie rather than gathering them, they will help feed the lawn as they break down. A thin layer of compost raked into the sod also will fertilize it and attract earthworms, which help break up thatch.
You’ll want to add compost to your flower beds and grow bags about now too. See the attached article for more information on going compost-al!