6 things to plant in April, from colorful perennials to delicious vegetables

6 things to plant in April, from colorful perennials to delicious vegetables

March is a month that usually feels more like winter than spring – but April is when you can start to see your garden come to life after months of dormancy. You may have spent March clearing your garden to rid it of any fall debris like fallen leaves or branches, or perhaps you’ve been busy with any pruning tasks you couldn’t do in February. But now is gardening season, so it’s time to start thinking about what to plant in April.

Before you pull out your shovel, and even before you decide exactly what flowers to plant in April, it’s important to know two things: your growing zone and when the last frost day is expected in your location. The best place to look for this is the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. If your area is safe from frost this month, here’s a list of beautiful flowers (and more!) you can plant in April.

Credit: Photo by Cathy Scola/Getty Images Credit: Photo by Cathy Scola/Getty Images

1. Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous plants such as broccoli are cold tolerant and thrive when planted in early spring for the fall season.

If you live in a warmer area, these bushy plants overwinter well, too. When starting your plants from seed, it is best to do so indoors and then move them to a suitable location in full sun.

Aside from broccoli, here are some other cruciferous vegetables you can plant in April:

  • cauliflower

  • soccer

  • cabbage

  • cabbage

Beautiful pink dahlia in the garden.  Picture of beautiful pink dahlia.

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2. Dahlias

Although many people think of dahlias as a spring bulb, they are actually a tuber, meaning they grow just like you saw a potato sprout.

According to Bigger Garden’s Brooke Ingham, April is the perfect time to plant dahlias, which he describes as having vivid blooms and charming patterns.

However, because dahlias are sensitive to frost, Ingham recommends looking at your planting zone.

“If you live in a cooler climate, hold off on planting your dahlias until late April or even May,” he says. “In warmer regions, where frosts are deposited earlier in the year, April is the perfect opportunity to get those tubers into the ground.”

Planting dahlias early but after the danger of frost allows them to become established before the heat of summer arrives.

Rosemary, mint, lavender and other herbs in the bowl

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3. Herbs

Fresh-picked herbs are a great way to add flavor to salads and season meats, but these leafy greens are also a great addition to your vegetable garden.

Planting herbs in April ensures you have cilantro for your salsa and oregano for your Italian dishes. April is also an ideal time to plant mint, but be careful: keep this plant only in containers, otherwise its rapid spread will quickly take over entire garden beds.

Here are some herbs you can plant in April:

A leaf of beet root.  Fresh green leaves of beetroot or beet root seedlings.  A row of baby green beets leaves growing on the organic farm.  Closeup beetroot leaves growing on the garden bed.  Field of beet leaves

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4. Beets

April is the best time to plant any underground vegetables, such as onions, carrots and radishes, but it’s also the perfect time to start delicious beets from seed.

According to The Almanac, you should start planting beets in early spring, but to get a full harvest, it recommends subsequent plantings every two to three weeks after that until mid-summer. If you are a true beet fan, you can continue your planting through early fall.

Orange dahlia in the garden

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5. Summer bulbs

Many areas in the United States will see their last expected spring frost at the end of April. After this date, you should start planting summer-flowering bulbs.

“These plants thrive in warm soil, so you don’t want to plant them too early; otherwise, you can stunt their growth — or worse, just sit there and rot,” says Justin Hancock, horticulturist at Costa Farms.

Plant a mix of the following for a knockout summer garden:

Good news if you like lilies: The National Horticultural Bureau selected them as Bulb of the Year for 2024. They’re also one of horticulturist Peggy Ann Montgomery’s favorite plants.

“These beauties add an air of sophistication to any garden and have staying power in the vase, making them a must-have addition to your floral collection,” she says.

If you have a way to protect the bulbs from cold weather, such as a frost cloth, you can plant them a week or two before the last frost date.

Hand picking fresh salad in the garden

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6. Lettuce

April will be one of the last opportunities to plant lettuce this year, especially if you live in an area with high summer temperatures.

Lettuce wilts — or goes to seed — when the temperature rises, so it’s very important to plant it when it’s cold. “Lettuce thrives in cool weather and struggles in extreme temperatures, making April the perfect time to plant,” says Susan Brandt, plant expert at Blooming Secrets.

The best thing about having lettuce in your garden is that it is ready to harvest within a month or so. “By starting early, you can have fresh, crunchy lettuce before the summer heat arrives,” Brandt adds. Plus, you’ll have a steady supply of fresh lettuce from spring to early summer.

Bachelor's button flowers in the garden

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7. Direct sow cold weather seeds

While it’s best to wait until a few weeks after the last frost to plant warm-weather flower seeds, April is the best time to plant cold-weather flower seeds directly.

Ingham is a big fan of bachelor buttons because of their simple care requirements. “Once established, these flowers are fairly drought-tolerant and generally pest-free, making them a low-maintenance option for gardeners looking to add long-lasting color with minimal fuss,” he says.

The following seeds thrive with the onset of cold weather:

For more ideas on flowers you can grow from seed, check out these fast-growing flowers you can plant this spring.

Sugar snap peas on the vine

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8. Snow peas

Early April will be one of the last opportunities to sow pea seeds. You can plant seeds directly into the ground until mid-April as long as the ground is still cool. Peas do not do well in warm or hot temperatures.

As you grow a crop of peas, remember that for the fruits of your labor to amount to anything significant, you will need a fair number of plants.

Purple and yellow pansies in a planter

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9. Pansies and violas

Although March is usually the optimal time to plant cool-weather annuals, it’s important to know that April is not too late to plant gorgeous pansies and violas. It performs well until the temperatures rise, so you’ll still be spending plenty of time with it.

“Pansies and violas add a touch of beauty and color to your garden,” Brandt says. “They are cool-weather flowers that are easy to grow and have a long blooming season.”

She also recommends removing spent flowers to encourage growth and choosing mature plants rather than growing flowers from seed late in the season.

Fun fact: Pansies are not only beautiful, they are also edible. Add them to salads for a little extra bite and a touch of color, or use them to decorate a cake.

Daylilies bloom in the garden

Credit: SOE/Shutterstock Credit: SOE/Shutterstock

10. Hardy perennials

Finally, it’s time for the crowd favorites: perennials! All hardy perennials like these will be available at your local nursery as rooted plants:

The bleeding heart is one of spring’s most beautiful sights with its small, drooping flowers, which last until the flowers begin to wilt in early summer.

Hellebores are also an excellent perennial investment to plant in April. It blooms during early summer and comes in many different varieties that will allow you to liven up your spring garden. Although they are slow growing, after they establish roots, they will continue to appear in your garden for years and years to come.

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