April is a month alive with spring colors – so what can we plant at this time of year?
April is a great time to plant flowers such as violets and lobelias, vegetables like parsnips and chard, and fruits such as rhubarb. You can also plant herbs, roses, and lavender in pots, plus many types of bulbs. However, April is not a good time for planting trees and shrubs.
Let’s dive down into the subject of April planting in more detail, and also discover what types of jobs you can do in the yard in the spring…
Is April a Good Month For Planting?
April is a fantastic month for planting. The soil is warming up, those pesky frosts have passed (in most regions, anyway), and you’ll even have the pleasure of enjoying the sunshine as you work in your yard.
Of course, how warm that sunshine will be depends on where you live. The US is such a big place that it’s hard to speak generally about its gardening climate. The best thing to do before embarking on any planting project is to check which plant hardiness zone you live in.
The zone system is designed to give a standardized way of talking about the different planting climates in the States. The country is divided into “hardiness zones” ranging from 1 (very cold) to 10 (very hot). Everyone from farmers to seed manufacturers use the zone system.
Check which zone your yard falls into on the useful US plant hardiness zone map. Simply enter your zip code, and then when you know for sure whether you’re, say, a five or a six, you’ll have a more accurate idea of what you can plant and when.
There’s a great choice of crops and flowers that you plant in April, if you live in zones 3-10. If you’re in cooler zones 1 and 2, you may need to wait a little longer; however, there are a few cold-weather vegetables that should do well in April. We’ll take a closer look at these shortly.
What Flowers Can You Plant in April?
If you’ve started off some flowers indoors and you’re sure the last frost has passed, you can start introducing your young plants to the great outdoors in April. Acclimatize your baby blooms by taking their pot or tray outdoors during the day, and bringing it back inside at night. This will prepare them for the transition from indoor seedlings to outdoor plants.
Hopefully, your winter bulb planting has resulted in a vibrant display of early-season color, as your tulips and daffodils finally emerge from the soil. It’s not too late to plant summer-flowering bulbs in April: try lilies, gladioli or crocosmia for eye-catching flower beds.
Divide your favorite perennials, and replant for twice the number of blooms. If you feel they’re getting a little too big, divide them and give half to a friend or neighbor.
Which new flowers can you plant in April? Here are a few lovely varieties for summertime color (just make sure that the frosts are over before you plant these outside):
- California poppies
- Sweet peas
- Roses (but carefully check your variety and hardiness zone first)
We could go on! April really is a lovely month to get those flowers started, all ready for a beautiful garden in the summer.
What Vegetables Can You Plant in April?
Again, April’s warmer soil really widens the scope of which vegetables you can plant. Once the frosts have finished, you really can roll those sleeves up, get out the spade and how, and get started in the yard.
Folks in zones 1 and 2: we don’t want you to feel we’re ignoring you! There are some delicious vegetables that you can plant in April, including cabbages, chives, lettuces, and cauliflowers. For everyone else, here are a few of our recommendations for April crops:
If you have a greenhouse or cloches, try tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, basil, and some members of the squash family. Depending on your climate, some of these may be moved outdoors later on. If you’ve not used a greenhouse before, take a look at this short introduction to greenhouse gardening.
What Fruits Can I Plant Out in April?
For a lovely summertime treat, make sure you get your strawberries and raspberries planted now, choosing a sunny spot with well-draining soil. You can also plant rhubarb in April.
If you have a greenhouse (or live in a very warm climate), try growing melons this year. They are very slow-growing, and you’ll occasionally worry that nothing is happening: but hang in there, as home-grown melon really is one of life’s real treats.
If you’re thinking of planting fruit that grows on trees (apples, pears, plums and so on), wait until the fall. Trees need to be planted when they’re dormant, rather than in the spring when they’re starting to produce blossoms and buds.
What Can You Plant in Pots in April?
The answer to this is lots of things! You can plant flowers from seed or bulb, all sorts of vegetables, herbs, and even compact shrubs in April. The only real constraint is the size of your planter.
Container gardening is a great idea if you don’t have much space in your flower beds, or simply want to keep your vegetable garden small and easy to manage. Provided the soil is deep enough, vegetables such as carrots, spinach and lettuce can do really well in pots. You could also try:
- Herbs, indoors or outdoors
- Greenhouse crops such as tomatoes, basil, and eggplants
- Handy small-sized crops like garlic and chillies
- Summer-flowering bulbs like gladioli for extra color on your patio
- Container roses
- Evergreen shrubs
Can I Plant Seeds & Bulbs in April?
You certainly can plant seeds and bulbs in April, because the soil is now nice and warm, and is a lovely, loose texture (especially if you’ve tilled it, which we’d definitely recommend before any direct seed sowing). In the warmer zones, seeds can go straight in the ground. In medium zones, you may want to wait until the end of the month. If you live in zones 1,2 and possibly 3, start all seeds off indoors.
What about bulbs? The soil is warm enough to plant bulbs outdoors when your yard reaches nighttime temperatures of between 40 and 50 degrees fahrenheit. If it hasn’t yet, wait a bit longer or grow your bulbs indoors in containers, moving them outdoors when it warms up.
Can You Plant Trees & Shrubs in April?
Generally, we stick to the old saying about only planting trees when the leaves start to fall. Trees don’t like to be transplanted while they’re busy, so they do best if they’re planted during their dormant period in the fall. For this reason, never plant fruit trees in the spring.
However, there are a few shrubs that can be planted in April, including butterfly bushes, dogwood, and hawthorn. You can also plant evergreens in the early spring. After April, it’s best to wait until the fall, as evergreens don’t like being moved in warm weather.
What Herbs Can I Plant in April?
Herbs really are a gardener’s (and cook’s) delight, as you can plant most of them indoors at any time of year. Indeed, many people choose to keep their herbs inside all the time, as they’re handy for the kitchen.
You can also plant herbs in containers on the patio or porch. Try thyme, dill, sage, and parsley in pots, and don’t even think about planting mint directly into the soil (unless you want a whole bed of mint). Basil and cilantro still need a greenhouse, while rosemary can get too big for a pot. Oregano is another good one to plant into the soil, as some varieties spread.
What Jobs Can I Do in The Garden in April?
April is a great time to get out there and get some jobs done. It can be a little rainy in some zones, so check that weather forecast before you embark on any major outdoor painting schemes. Aside from all the planting we’ve just looked at, what else can you do in the yard in April?
- Look after the soil. Before you start planting out, fertilize and till the flower beds and vegetable garden
- Sweep, pressure wash, and maybe even seal/varnish/treat the patio, porch, or deck
- Clean out and sort the garage, shed, greenhouse, or other outbuilding
- If you have a woodshed, it’s time for the post-winter tidy up…
- Check your patio furniture, grill, hot tub, gazebo, and fire pit: hopefully you’ll be needing them soon. If you want to order new, better do that now to make sure everything arrives on time
- If you haven’t already, check your main gardening kit (mower, strimmer, leaf blower) is in good condition
- How’s your lawn looking? April is a good time to sow grass seed to fill any bare patches
- Generally, because it’s warmer, you can get started with any of those jobs that have been bothering you over the winter. Fix the garage door or the broken handrail, or install a new clothesline
- Not sure what to plant? Visit a garden center and take a look around for inspiration
Want to know what you can plant in May? Read the next article in our planting calendar…
Homeowner and property investor Larry James founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >