Low Desert Arizona Garden in April
The sunny warm days and cool nights of April are just about perfect for the garden and the gardener. However, this is not the time to procrastinate – warmer temperatures are coming and it’s important to prepare the low desert Arizona garden in April for the hot summer ahead.
"Sweet April showers do so spring May flowers." - Thomas Tusser, A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry, 1557
Although our “April showers” come earlier in the year, the message is a good one. What you do in your Arizona garden in April will affect how your garden, herbs, and flowers withstand the heat of the upcoming summer.
We garden year-round in Arizona, but we can’t grow everything all year. Take a look at what’s growing in my Mesa, Arizona garden this month, and see my list of which garden tasks to do and a list of the vegetables, herbs and flowers to plant in your Arizona garden in April.
Vegetables growing in the low desert Arizona garden in April
April is a great month for harvesting carrots planted in the fall. Leave carrots in the ground until ready to eat, but harvest carrots before the heat of the summer if you live in hot places like Arizona (the heat can turn them bitter).
Time to harvest the celery from your garden. Celery doesn’t like hot temperatures and the flavor will be affected – it will become bitter. The celery will also bolt – meaning the plant’s focus turns to producing seeds. You will see a central stalk become taller and literally “bolt”. If it remains in the ground, it will flower and produce seeds.
Flowers growing in the low desert Arizona garden in April
Nasturtiums put on their big show this month. The beautiful, edible blooms are everywhere! Be sure to save seeds to share with friends and family. Nasturtiums reseed easily and once you plant them, they often return year after year.
Pictured here are Vitex (chaste tree), petunias, and blue plumbago – all of which bloom and are beautiful in Arizona gardens in April.
Fruit trees in the low desert Arizona garden in April
Take advantage of citrus season by juicing citrus. Juiced citrus stores well in the fridge for several weeks, and can be frozen for several months. This article shares my best tips for juicing citrus.
As blossoms become fruit on your fruit trees, fruit should be thinned before it is an inch in diameter. Thin fruit within about a month after full bloom. Fruit thinned later than this lessens the chance that fruit size will increase. For more information, read this article.
Early-ripening peaches (such as Earligrande, pictured here) may be ready to pick this month. Big delicious fruit is the benefit to all that thinning you did. Enjoy the fruit of your labors, and pick them before the birds get them!
Herbs in the low desert Arizona garden in April
Low desert Arizona garden in April to-do list:
- April is a good time to plant citrus trees and fig trees.
- Fruit trees can be planted early in the month so they have time to settle in before the heat of the summer. Look for varieties which require less than 400 chill hours, have early maturing fruit, and are self-pollinating.
- Plant cold-tolerant trees, bushes, and perennials as well as frost-sensitive plants such as lantana and hibiscus. Plant summer-flowering shrubs. Do not over-plant, be aware of mature size of plant, and space accordingly.
- Think twice before planting cool-season annuals this month. It will be heating up soon and their time in the ground will be short. Better to plant warm-season flowers when they are available.
- Check irrigation system and timer. Run system, and inspect all drips and sprinklers for leaks and proper watering.
- As temperatures heat up, annual plants will need more frequent watering. Water to a depth of about 6 inches, and allow top of soil to dry out before watering again.
- Check containers with a moisture meter or make sure top inch or so of soil has dried out before watering.
- Established citrus trees should be watered once every 10-14 days.
- Water established fruit trees once every 7-10 days.
- Wateruseitwisely.com is a helpful resource for landscape watering guidelines.
- Prune dead branches out of trees and shrubs.
- Spring-flowering shrubs can be pruned lightly after they bloom, water well after pruning.
- If you didn’t do it in March, clean up and remove dead or damaged wood and crossing branches on citrus.
- Remove water sprouts from lemon trees.
- If desired, train pomegranates to a wall or prune to a manageable size.
- Don’t prune newly-planted trees or shrubs.
- Do not prune lavender, rosemary, sage or thyme.
- Prune basil, lemongrass and mints.
- Prepare soil for planting by adding compost.
- Do not fertilize newly-planted trees or shrubs.
- Fertilize trees and shrubs in your yard as needed. Native trees and shrubs do not require extra fertilization.
- Fertilize strawberries and garlic this month.
- Newly-planted grapes should be fertilized this month. Feed established grapes in February and May.
- Thin fruit on deciduous fruit trees. This article will help explain the process.
- Clear out remaining cool-season vegetables.
- Collect seeds from spring wildflowers and cool-season annuals sown in October and November.
- Remove spent winter-growing annuals. Stressed plants attract pests.
- Thin warm-season annuals to keep plants from overcrowding each other.
- Clean up and remove dead or damaged wood and crossing branches on citrus.
- If you did not do it back in March, remove dead plants in yard. Look at landscape, and make note of how plants look.
- Apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around base of shrubs and trees. Mulching reduces soil temperatures and adds organic matter to the soil.
- Mulch, mulch, mulch!!!! Compost is a great mulch and can be worked into the soil at the end of the season.
What to plant in the low desert Arizona garden in April:
Herbs to plant in the low desert in April
Vegetables to plant in the low desert in April
Plant seeds of: Armenian Cucumber, Beans (Lima*, Snap and Asparagus/Snake), Black-eyed Peas, Cantaloupe, Corn*, Cucumber, Edamame, Green Onions, Luffa, Malabar Spinach, Okra, Peanuts, Roselle Hibiscus, Summer Squash*
* = plant through April 15th
Arizona Vegetable Planting Guide helps you learn when to plant vegetables in Arizona, and whether to plant seeds or transplants.
With 50 vegetables listed that grow well in the low desert of Arizona you are sure to find one to try.