Taking an environmentally sensitive approach to pest management


Missouri Environment & Garden


Donna Aufdenberg
University of Missouri Extension
(573) 243-3581

Kate Kammler
University of Missouri Extension
(573) 883-3548

Kathi Mecham
University of Missouri Extension
(660) 542-1792

April Gardening Tips

minute read

Donna Aufdenberg
University of Missouri Extension
(573) 243-3581

Kate Kammler
University of Missouri Extension
(573) 883-3548

Kathi Mecham
University of Missouri Extension
(660) 542-1792

Published: March 15, 2023

  • Plan to attract pollinators to your garden. Attract hummingbirds by planting red or orange flowers. Attract butterflies to the garden with a mix of perennial and annual flowers. Consider planting a milkweed species to attract monarchs.
  • Prune flowering shrubs after blooming has completed. Pruning now will not affect blooms for next year.
  • Apply mulch to landscape beds once soils have warmed and the chance of frost has passed.
  • Plants bought out of greenhouses need to be hardened off before planting.
  • Remove winter mulch from roses. Prune before new growth begins.
  • Plant dahlia tubers as soon as the danger of frost has passed. Stake or cage at time of planting to avoid injury to tubers. Plants can be mulched as the shoots emerge out of the ground.
  • When buying bedding plants, choose healthy looking, compact, bushy plants with good color that have not started flowering. When in doubt, remove the pot and take a look at the roots. Roots should be white and not brown to black. Select plants with well-developed root systems that are vigorous, but not too large for their pots.
  • Examine shrubs for winter injury. Prune out all dead or weakened wood.
  • Don't give up on plants that are damaged from low temperatures. They can have leaf burn or lose leaves and still be alive. Let them grow out before pruning them back if you can't tell what is dead.
  • Take time to enjoy nature! Consider visiting your local state parks and conservation areas.

  • Cool, wet soils can extend germination time or cause seed rot. If you find no signs of growth after 10 to 14 days, consider replanting.
  • When planning your vegetable garden, cool season vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and broccoli need at least six hours of sunlight to develop properly. Warm season vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, eggplant and peppers need 10 hours of full sun.
  • Cool season vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower plants can be planted all month.
  • Plastic jugs with the bottom removed makes inexpensive and easy-to-use "hot caps" for covering your vegetable seedlings when there is a chance of frost.
  • Make succession sowings of cool season crops such as lettuce, spinach, radishes and beets.
  • It is easy to over-sow small seeded vegetable crops such as lettuce, spinach, carrots and radishes. Take time to thin out crowded seedlings.
  • Do not rush to get warm season vegetables in the garden prior to the first week of May or before the chance of frost has passed. The ground needs to be warm enough to promote adequate growth.
  • Cucumber, cantaloupe, and summer squash can be started indoors.
  • Plants started indoors should be hardened off outdoors before being transplanted into the garden. For more information, see MU Extension Guide g6570 Starting Plants Indoors From Seeds https://extension.missouri.edu/g6570.
  • Don't allow weeds to get an early start in your garden.
  • Asparagus and rhubarb harvests begin.

  • Follow the Fruit Spray Schedule for pest free fruit. MU Extension Guide g6010 Fruit Spray Schedule https://extension.missouri.edu/g6010.
  • Grape vines with excess vegetative growth generally have less high-quality fruit. In early spring, prune out the canes with the fewest buds to allow light, moisture and air circulation within the plant to improve the quality and quantity of fruit.
  • Plant bare-root or potted fruits as soon as the soil can be worked. Select disease-resistant varieties. See MU Extension Guide g6005 Fruit Cultivars for Home Plantings https://extension.missouri.edu/g6005.
  • Remove tree wraps from fruit trees now.
  • Protect bees and other pollinating insects. Do not spray insecticides on fruit plantings that are blooming.
  • If freeze or frost is expected, use frost protection on blooming fruits.
  • Begin thinning peach and apple blossoms on trees.
  • Begin spraying for cedar apple rust if the disease has been problematic in the past or if Eastern red cedar trees are in the vicinity.
  • Apply bactericide at bloom and petal fall to control fire blight on apple trees and begin codling moth control.
  • For peach, begin brown rot control following periods of leaf wetness from bloom to harvest.
  • Be on the lookout for stink bugs and tarnished plant bugs on peaches. Treat accordingly. For more information, see MU Extension Guide g6010 Fruit Spray Schedule https://extension.missouri.edu/g6010.
  • Pull frost protection off the strawberry beds after the last frost.
  • Beginning thinning peach and apple blossoms soon after bloom to promote large fruit size and prevent limb breakage.

Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass

  • Do not mow the lawn until it has grown at least three inches. The roots are being renewed in the spring and grass needs vigorous top growth initially.
  • This is a crucial time to mow tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass at 3.5-4 inches (oftentimes the highest setting on your mower) to discourage weed invasion, particularly if crabgrass preemergents or other herbicides are not being applied. When the grass is actively growing, mowing may be needed every 5-7 days.
  • Apply crabgrass preemergents approximately at forsythia bloom or 55°F soil temperatures. Apply by April 15. If significantly earlier, consider split applications (two half rates) made 4-6 weeks apart. Do not apply to areas that have been or will need to be seeded recently.
  • Control broadleaf lawn weeds now with selective herbicides through late May before they get large and temperatures get too high to apply herbicides safely.
  • Do not apply nonselective herbicides to lawns such as glyphosate in the spring. The plant that replaces the targeted weed will more than likely be another weed.
  • Fertilize with 0.5 to 1 nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, preferably with a slow-release fertilizer.
  • Aerate if thatch is heavy or soil is compacted. This is often best done, however in September along with seeding. If soil is low in organic matter, topdress with compost prior to aerification.


  • Wait for lawn to completely green up prior to mowing at a height of 1.5-2 inches.
  • Later in the month, monitor for large patch disease which is particularly prevalent in wet springs.

  • When repotting houseplants, prevent stem rot by potting up plants on a slight mound with the soil sloping 1/4 inch lower at the edge of the pot. Be sure the new pot has holes for adequate drainage.
  • Consider using a slow release fertilizer in the soil when repotting plants or as a top dress if not repotting.
  • Dust or wash leaves to promote adequate photosynthesis in the leaves.
  • Don't be too anxious to move your house plants outdoors. Even a good chill can knock the leaves off of tender plants.

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