What to sow and grow in April
With sunshine and showers, April's the time for getting your garden ready!
Image: Calendula 'Power Daisy' from Thompson & Morgan
April kickstarts our gardens back into life, with its winning combination of sunshine and showers. On a fine day, it can feel like the weather has truly turned - although Jack Frost may still pay the odd visit. Fill your garden with colourful flowers or grow your own vegetables. Read below for information about which plants and bulbs you can grow in April.
Flowers to sow and grow
Want a spectacular petunia show this summer? Then get planting!
Image: Petunia 'Circus Sky' from Thompson & Morgan
Here are flowers to sow and grow in April
In the greenhouse / indoors
- Sow sunflowers in pots indoors or direct sow into garden borders.
- Sow nasturtiums in pots and modules now. Once all risk of frost has passed, plant them out into poor soil for the best flowers - richer soil will produce more foliage and less blooms!
- Finish sowing petunia seeds under cover this month, to ensure the plants reach a good size in time for the summer.
- Sow Scabious seed undercover now. They'll attract bees and butterflies to your garden and will also make great cut flowers.
- Sow marigolds in warmth to brighten up your summer bedding.
- Plant up summer hanging baskets with plug plants and keep them under cover in a heated greenhouse until all risk of frost has passed.
- Finish sowing summer bedding plants such as salvia, ageratum and zinnia this month, for a vibrant display this summer.
- Continue to sow half-hardy annual seeds under cover, taking care not to expose them to frost. Try Dahlia 'Black Beauty' for velvety dark blooms and Aster 'Spider Chrysanthemum Mixed' (Callistephus chinensis) for colourful spidery blossoms.
Direct sow outdoors
- Direct sow wildflower seed mixtures — they're great for bees and butterflies, and they add wonderful colour too.
- Direct sow hardy annuals like sunflowers and poppies outside.
- Continue to plant herbaceous perennial & biennial plants like foxgloves and osteospermum.
- Plant forced flower bulbs (such as hyacinths and daffodils) into borders, once they've finished flowering.
- Plant or pot on any hardwood cuttings taken last year.
- Add any necessary supports to plants now for them to grow up through. Adding supports later is more difficult and can damage the plants.
- Plant lily bulbs in pots. Lilies grow really well in containers and you can move them around your patio or into gaps in borders as they come into flower.
- Fill containers and hanging baskets with petunia plants once there is no longer any risk of frost.
Herbs & Vegetables to sow and grow
Want to grow your own tomatoes? Start by sowing tomato seeds indoors.
Image: Tomato 'Tiger Red' F1 from Thompson & Morgan
Here are your herbs and vegetables to grow this month:
In the greenhouse/indoors
- Start to sow tomato seeds indoors, ready to plant out after all risk of frost has passed. If you're struggling for growing space, buy ready-grown tomato plants. Take a look at our tomato selector guide for inspiration.
- Prick out seedlings into pots or modules for growing on as soon as they have their first true leaves.
- Sow aubergine seeds under glass now for growing in the greenhouse or transplanting outdoors later on.
- Sow basil seeds in warmth to protect them from April frosts.
- Finish sowing celery and celeriac seeds under glass.
- Sow marrow, pumpkin, squash and courgette seeds under cover.
- Sow cucumbers and gherkins towards the end of the month, sow the seeds in individual pots or modules in the greenhouse.
- Start kale seeds now under glass, or directly into seedbeds outdoors.
- Try sowing lettuce in module trays under glass for transplanting in the garden later. Alternatively sow lettuce seeds outside and thin out the seedlings.
- Sow perennial herbs - such as rosemary, sage, thyme and lemon balm - in the greenhouse.
- Sow beans seeds under cover at the end of the month, sowing individually into module trays.
Direct sow outdoors
- Direct sow Calendula seeds now - they are ideal for the vegetable garden, attracting insects and providing edible flowers.
- Try growing comfrey in a neglected corner of the garden - it's a rich source of nutrients and is great used as a fertiliser or for mulching.
- Direct sow globe artichokes for a long-lasting addition to your vegetable plot.
- Plant out Jerusalem artichoke tubers this month.
- Sow beetroot seeds directly into well-prepared seedbeds.
- Sow broad beans directly into the ground for a delicious summer crop.
- Start sowing some brassica and leafy green seeds directly into seedbeds.
- Direct sow summer and autumn cabbages, such as 'Greyhound', into well-prepared beds.
- Sow cauliflower seeds outdoors towards the end of the month.
- Sow chicory seeds directly into seedbeds now.
- Sow herbs such as chives, coriander, dill and parsley directly into the ground or in containers indoors.
- Direct sow carrot and parsnip seeds in rows outdoors, making sure the soil remains moist for good germination. Sow 3 or 4 seeds every 20 cm, and then thin seedlings to leave the strongest plant.
- Try sowing kohlrabi outdoors for something more unusual - it will be ready in as little as 8 weeks after sowing.
- Finish sowing leek seeds in their final positions outdoors.
- Direct sow some pak choi outdoors for a taste of the orient.
- Start off sweetcorn seeds in modules, for planting out after all risk of frost has passed.
- Sow sweet pepper seeds in the greenhouse for bountiful summer crops.
- Sow pea and bean seeds directly into the ground, or start them off in modules if mice are a problem. Stagger sowings over several weeks, allowing about 20 plants per person, for a longer harvest period.
- Sow radish seeds directly into the soil for your first salad of the season.
- Continue to sow spinach seeds in seedbeds enriched with plenty of organic matter.
- Sow spring-onion seeds in drills outdoors, for a quick crop to add to salads and stir fries.
- Start to sow swede seeds outdoors in a rich fertile soil.
- Try Swiss chard sown outdoors for a colourful crop - they even look great in flower beds!
- Try growing watercress seeds in containers on the patio, making sure the container is sitting in 2-3 inches of water at all times.
For a delicious crop, plant your chitted second early potatoes outside
Image: Potato 'Kestrel' from Thompson & Morgan
Fruit to sow and grow
Here are April's fruits to sow and grow:
In the greenhouse / indoors
- Plant out pot-grown fruit trees and bushes. It's too late to plant out bare-root fruit trees for this year, but pot-grown varieties can be planted out happily.
- Continue to plant raspberry and blackberry canes before the hotter weather arrives.
- Plant out strawberry plants, making sure you enrich the soil first with plenty of well-rotted manure. Place cloches over your strawberry plants for earlier crops.
Keep one step ahead — what to order this month:
- Order perennial plants such as lupin and Aquilegia.
- Buy sweetcorn seeds to sow in trays next month.
- Stock up on horticultural fleece and other plant protection before you get sowing in earnest!