April is a busy time in the garden, as the weather begins to warm and we leave the frosts behind.
April is a very variable month, and there are some years when it almost feels like summer, and others when winter still seems to cling on. But no matter what the weather is like, there is plenty that you can be getting on with in the garden this month.
If you grow your own, April is a time when you will likely be sowing many seeds for your kitchen garden. But as well as sowing a range of fruit and vegetable seeds this month, you should also make sure you make time for ornamental and wildlife friendly flowering plants too.
Annual Flower Seeds to Sow in April
In April, one of the main jobs will be sowing annual flower seeds. Some should be sown indoors, ready to plant out when the weather warms. While some others can be sown directly into your garden. Here are some of my favourite annual flowers that you can think about sowing this month:
Sweet alyssum, Lobularia maritima, is relatively easy to grow from seed in spring and will flower between June and October. It is a great choice for borders, alpine gardens, hanging baskets or planters. Sow indoors in March or April and plant out later in May.
Amaranthus is a rather spectacular and dramatic flower to grow. And amaranth also provides edible yields – the leaves can be cooked like spinach. Sow indoors this month to plant out once the weather has warmed, in ornamental beds or borders, or in your vegetable plot.
Borage is favourite of mine. After sowing it once, is should self-seed readily in the right conditions and you may not need to sow it anew each year. Not only does borage have beautiful blue flowers, rich in nectar for bees and other pollinators. It is also an edible flower, great in salads and summer drinks. Sow borage direct in the garden, after the last frosts in your area.
Calendula can also be direct sown this month in the garden in many parts of the UK. Or you can sow indoors to plant out a little later if you prefer. Calendula is another attractive and useful plant, which is great for you, and for the beneficial insects in your garden.
Cornflowers are very pretty additions to a mixed border, but as with the options mentioned above, can also blend in nicely and attract pollinators and other beneficial insects to your edible garden areas. They are lovely with other cornfield flowers. Sow cornflowers direct into your garden later this month, or next.
These cheerful, colourful flowers are a great choice for many gardens. And these are one more seed to consider sowing indoors this month, in seed trays or flats, soil blocks or modules. Harden them off and plant them out next month. Sowing early indoors means you can enjoy their blooms over as long a period as possible.
Marigolds are another flower to sow indoors in April to plant out in May once the weather has reliably warmed. These are another cheerful and colourful choice, and another great option to consider for companion planting in your vegetable garden.
Nasturtiums are another reliable favourite, easy for anyone to sow and grow. They are really bright and really useful in a range of ways. These flowers can also be sown indoors this month to plant out after hardening off into your garden. They’re not only beautiful – you can eat them too.
It is not too late to sow nicotiana (tobacco plant) this month. These attractive and popular plants are great for a wildlife friendly garden, and can flower from June right through to October. Sow between February and April indoors, then wait until June to plant out.
Poppies, like cornflowers, are attractive meadow or cornfield flowers that look great in many gardens, either as part of mixed borders, or wildflower planting schemes. It is best to direct sow annual poppies where they are to grow, in a sunny and open spot. Like other flowers on this list, they can often self-seed readily.
Sunflowers are another incredibly easy flower to grow. And whether you grow them yourself, or get kids involved, this month is a good time to get them growing indoors before you plant them out as soon as the risk of frost has passed in your area.
12. Sweet peas
Sweet peas can also be sown this month, either in seed trays undercover, or direct in warmer and more southerly areas. These are classics for many gardeners in the UK, and are an easy annual to start with if you have just been bitten by the gardening bug.
Sow zinnias indoors in a free-draining medium this month, and plant them out in May or June. Then you can enjoy their colourful, daisy flowers for a long period between July and October.
Remember, these annuals are not only great options for bedding and borders. They can also find a place as companion plants in your kitchen garden.
Some of the options on the list above (borage, cornflowers and poppies) are sometimes included in wildflower mixes. It is worthwhile seeking out suitable wildflower mixes for your area as April is a great time to sow seed for a wildflower or cornfield meadow planting scheme.
Perennials To Sow or Plant in April
A number of perennials can also be sown in spring, and April is a good time to start on that garden job too. Certain perennials can also be planted out into your garden this month, as the best time to plant many herbaceous perennials is either in spring or autumn. Remember, perennials won’t just enrich your garden for a single summer. They will return year after year. Here are just a few great perennial flowering plants to consider:
Anise hyssop is a great plant for bees and other pollinators, and a useful herb as well as a flowering plant. Sow this and other Agastache varieties in a seed bed between March and May before transplanting them to their final growing positions in early autumn for flowers the following summer. Or plant out pot grown plants in May or June.
15. Angelica gigas
Angelica gigas is another dramatic and attractive perennial plant. You can sow it under cover between March and May, then harden off and plant out to enjoy spectacular displays between May and September which will bring plenty of pollinators and other beneficial insects to your garden.
Sow Astrantias this month, and/or plant between May and September. They will add visual appeal to your garden from June through to October and draw in a wide range of wildlife with their pollen and nectar rich flowers.
Comfrey is a very useful plant to have in an organic garden. And it can be rather ornamental too, with bee-friendly flowers. Sow seeds this month and/or plant out between May and September. Purple, pinkish or white flowers will appear between June and early September.
18. Crambe cordifolia
This is a somewhat more unusual perennial to consider for your garden. It blooms with an abundance of small white flowers. This is another seed you can sow this month. It is not just ornamental but is also a very useful perennial vegetable crop.
Plant out lavender in your garden this month and you can enjoy the fragrance and beauty of this well known herb and flowering plant from July to September. Bees love it, as do many other insects. And it is great next to a seating area where you can enjoy the lovely smell.
20. Monarda didyma
Bergamot or bee balm is another great perennial to choose for a wildlife friendly garden. Seeds can be sown any time from late winter through to spring. Pot up seeds once they are large enough to handle, then plant out in May or June for stunning red flowers between June and August.
Catnip, or catmint, is another great flowering herb to sow this month. Sow this month, or purchase pot grown plants, and plant out in the garden in May or June for pretty flowers right through from June until October.
Salvias are also great long blooming perennial flowering plants. Plant out this month or next, to enjoy blooms which, depending on variety, can extend all through summer and perhaps even continue as late as November.
Perennial scabious can be planted out any time between April and September. The flowers are great for wildlife, and pincushion flowers also make wonderful cut flowers. Existing plants can also be divided this month to obtain new plants and ease any overcrowding.
24. Verbena bonariensis
Verbena bonariensis, Argentinian vervain, can be sown this month, and/or planted out any time between May and September. The beautiful purpose flowers, great for a wildlife friendly garden, will bloom between July and October.
Last but not least, yarrow (Achillea) is another great perennial flowering plant to sow this month or in May, to plant out in May or June. It can also be sown in early autumn. This is another of my favourite plants for a wildlife-friendly and beautiful garden.
A permaculture garden designer, sustainability consultant and freelance writer, Elizabeth works as an advocate for positive change. She aims to inspire others to reconnect with nature and live in a more eco-friendly way. She also tries to practice what she preaches as she tends her own forest garden, polyculture beds and polytunnel. See her personal website here.