Plant now if you want colour in winter

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Tulips & Violas grow beautifully in potsTulips & Violas grow beautifully in pots

Give your garden a little attention in April and you will be rewarded with a riot of heart-warming flowers even in the dead of winter.

As summer slowly draws to a close we can feel a definite drop in the morning and evening temperatures, and as the trees change colour and the veld grass starts to dry up, we are reminded that winter is nigh. April is a wonderful month to garden and a busy month for gardeners in all regions of South Africa.

In the cold regions of the country, depending on when your first frosts arrive, April is generally the last month to sow winter and spring flowering annuals and winter vegetables. In the warmer, sub-tropical regions, sowing is usually 4 to 6 weeks later than the cold regions, so get stuck into your garden and prepare your beds for planting in May.

If you want to know what to do in your garden each month ahead of time, sign up as a member today to have access to our handy articles section: Gardening Month by Month.

Snapdragons are wonderful cut flowersSnapdragons are wonderful cut flowersMembers can click on highlighted text to read more

Large beds are expensive to plant entirely with trays of seedlings, but easy to grow annuals like Sweet Peas and African/Namaqualand Daisies (Dimorphotheca) can be sown directly into well prepared garden beds as soon as the soil temperatures have dropped. If you prefer a more stylised look, watch out for single coloured sweet peas, and African daisies in single shades of orange, yellow and white.

Other annuals worth trying include: Baby Snapdragon (Linaria;) Cape Jewels (Nemesia;) Bokbaai Vygies (Dorotheanthus;) Pot Marigold (Calendula;) Johnny-jump-up Violas; and Virginian Stocks (Malcolmia maritima.)  There are also many other beautiful seed mixes available at your local garden centre, for full sun or semi-shade.

For smaller beds and containers it is often best to purchase established winter and spring flowering seedlings from your garden centre. Look out for the ever popular four P's; Pansies, Poppies, Primulas and Petunias, or try something different this season by using Ornamental Kale, their colourful rose, red, mauve or white leaves are most striking if used in large groups, or in pots.
 
Prepare your beds well, incorporating lots of compost and some organic fertilisers before planting. Avoid transplanting bedding plants during the heat of the day and never plant them deeper than they are growing in their trays or pots. After planting out water your seedlings thoroughly and continue to water regularly thereafter until the seedlings are established. When your sweet peas are 15 cm tall, nip out the growing points to encourage lateral growth. Climbers will need supports about 2m tall and even the Knee-high and Bijou varieties will benefit from having low supports to clamber over.

"Growing Bedding Plants in South Africa" e-book

Experience the joy of growing your own flowering annuals all year round and save yourself a ton of money as well. The large selection of flowering bedding plants available in South Africa enables us to have colour in our gardens throughout the year. Bedding plants allow you to incorporate a fresh "new look" every season by using different colour schemes and plant varieties. Combine this with the fast-maturing versatility of annuals and your garden can become a canvas and you the artist!

Click here to read more or order your e-book "Growing Bedding Plants in South Africa"