Spray new foliage of roses against rose mildew using products with a physical action, such as SB Plant Invigorator, resorting to fungicides if this fails
Prune well-established Cotinus (smoke bush) hard to encourage bold, larger leaves instead of flowers to contract with surrounding finer-foliaged plants
Plant summer-flowering bulbs, such as Eucomis, lillies and nerines, outdoors.
Plant garlic; ‘softneck’ garlic such as ‘Picardy Wights’ can be planted until the end of April. Softnecks have no flower spikes and often have more cloves to a bulb than ‘hardneck’ types
Plant wildflower plug plants (here cowslips) into unfertilised, grassed areas for a naturalistic effect
Sow chard, coriander, parsley, beetroot and carrots in modules in a cold greenhouse to plant out later
- Remove flowers from strawberry plants planted after September last year
- Sow brassicas direct in seedbeds. Transplant to wider spacings in June
- Finish planting onion sets by middle of the month
- Prune fig trees. Remove crowded and crossing branches or badly placed shoots, and frost damaged growth
- To ensure balanced crown development prune of young stone fruit trees such as cherries and plums once the leaf buds start opening
- Prick out seedlings of tender vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and chillies and pot up into individual pots and grow on under cover
- Direct-sow annuals such as sunflowers, poached egg plants, Californian poppies and pot marigolds
- Weed ‘defensively’: remove weeds before they flower to avoid seeding
- Buy prepared freesias; plant 5cm (2in) deep for summer and autumn colour.
- Divide Agapanthus if flowering has declined in containers. Replant into fresh John Innes No. 2 with added grit
- Clip or hard-prune everygreen shrubs and hedges, such as Photinia, Griselinia and Prunus lusitanica. Remove shrubs such as hebes, Fatsia and Mahonia by reducing to well-placed lower growth
- Cut perennials such as penstemons, Gaura and Verbena bonariensis down to new shoots on last year’s growth
- Sow sweet peas directly into the ground
- Prune early flowering shrubs such as Abeliophyllum distichum, Chaenomeles, Forsythia.
- As day temperatures rise, open doors and vents, closing at night
- Water seedlings daily if needed
Pest and Disease Watch
- Look out for early aphid attack and prevent the colonies establishing
- Patches of yellowish, dying grass that may develop white or pinkish, cottony fungal growth during wet conditions may indicate fusarium patch (commonly called snow mould) problem
- Viburnum beetle larvae appear at the end of the month starting to eat holes in the leaves, leaving the larger leaf vein which gives the foliage a lace-doily appearance. Both evergreen and deciduous species can be affected.
- Before sowing a new law eliminate perennial weeds and cultivate the soil a depth of 20-25cm (8-10in) incorporation garden compost or well rotten manure. Make sure that the soil is form, well-trodden prior to sowing the grass seed.
- Where weeds and moss is a problem, once the grass is actively growing apply combined lawn feed with weed and moss killer. Rake out dead moss once it blackened