What to do in your garden in April

Planting

Carefree color. If you don't like to spend time deadheadingfaded flowers, you won't have to fuss over these: Angelonia angustifolia, Bidens ferulifolia, Evolvulus 'BlueHaze', globe amaranth (Gomphrena), and heliotrope.

Citrus. Sunset climate zones 12, 13 (Tucson, Phoenix): Setout grapefruits ('Marsh' and 'Rio Red'), lemons ('Eureka' and'Lisbon'), mandarins ('Fremont' and 'Kinnow'), and sweet orangessuch as Arizona Sweets ('Hamlin' and 'Marrs') and 'Valencia'. Incold-winter areas, you can grow 'Improved Meyer' lemon in a largecontainer as an indoor-outdoor plant.

Insectary plants. Certain plants attract beneficial bugs,which help control garden pests. To entice the beneficial ones likelacewings, ladybird beetles, and parasitic flies and wasps, mixsome of the following into beds and borders: annuals (cosmos,sunflower, sweet alyssum), herbs (mint, sage), and perennials(coreopsis, Eriogonum, Scabiosa, tansy, yarrow).

Trees. Celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree. If you livein Arizona, Nevada, or Texas, Arbor Day falls on April 29 this year(New Mexico celebrated it on March 11); visit www.arborday.org for moreinformation. Among the shade trees suited for small gardens arefeather bush tree (Lysiloma thornberi), nonflowering 'Swan Hill' olive,'Desert Museum' palo verde, and weeping bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis).

Vegetables. Zones 1a-3b: Set out transplants of broccoli,cabbage, kale, and Swiss chard. Sow seeds of beets, carrots, saladgreens, spinach, and turnips. Zone 10 (Albuquerque, Sedona): Setout seedlings of eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes. Sow seeds ofbeans, corn, cucumbers, melons, okra, and squash. Zones 11-13: Setout transplants of eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes. Sow seeds ofblack-eyed peas, carrots, corn, cucumbers, green onions, lima andsnap beans, melons, okra, radishes, and squash.

Vigorous perennials. Consider these hardy perennials thatneed little care. Zones 1a-3b, 10: Cinquefoil (Potentilla species), penstemon, and perennial blue flax (Linum perenne). Zones 11-13: French lavender (Lavandula dentata), lavender starflower (Grewia occidentalis), Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), rosemary, and twinspur (Diascia hybrids).

Maintenance

Feed palms, roses. Give palms their first feeding of theyear; fertilize monthly through summer. As roses enter peak bloomseason, give them a dose of rose food every two weeks to increaseflower size and yield. If the leaves of roses, citrus, andevergreens turn yellow while the veins remain green, the plant islikely suffering from chlorosis. To correct this iron deficiency,apply a product containing chelated iron. In all cases, waterdeeply before you apply fertilizer and immediately afterward.

Prune cactus. Remove dead or damaged cactus pads andbranches of other spiny succulents, but take care not to punctureyourself in the process. The Cactus Pruner ( www.cactuspruner.com or303/232-8788) has developed a line of tools made especially forthis task, including the Cactus Saw ($25) and Cactus Whacker($17).

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