April is (Mostly) a Great time to Plant …

April is – in general – a great time to plant in much of the Southwest. Well, in much of North America in general. And gosh yes, in those Mexican States along the US border too, like Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, and into Nuevo Leon. And come to think about it – across much of the northern hemisphere.  Yep – in Europe too!  Now I’m wondering about places like Persia (in the broad sense).

This variety of autumn sage is called ‘Hot Lips.’

Get in the Zone

New to this site? Or don’t live in the Southwest? Here’s a quick reminder of what I mean by “elevation.”
Here in the Southwest, as you move up in elevation = it is just like moving northwards on our globe. Our elevations correspond well to the USDA zones, and many of my books work in USDA growing zones 11 to 3b.
But the short hand is:
Low elevation = gardens in USDA zones 11 to 8.
Upper elevation = gardens in USDA zones 7 to 4.

April Vegetables

As low elevation gardeners set out vegetable seedlings, be sure to space them as recommended on the seed packet or label. Once soils are above 50F, plant sweet potato slips. Now is the time to sow seed of hot-season greens like amaranth, New Zealand spinach, purslane, and consider Malabar spinach (a perennial vine).

Zones 7 and 6 gardeners, this is the time to plant cool-season vegetables from seed, like radish, arugula, and European spinach. Plant slow-growing members of carrot family, including parsnip, carrot, fennel, parsley, and dill. (In zones 5 and 4, you will plant these next month.)

Edible landscaping can look grand! Those are rosemary cascading over the wall.

Herbs for April

Low elevation gardeners can start summer herbs from seed or seedlings if you haven’t yet. Basil, epazote, and perilla are commonly used as herbs. Also consider planting perennial herbs such as rosemary, oregano, marjoram, and aloysia (also called oreganillo).

Herbs for the upper elevations for summer to plant now include all members of the carrot family, such as anise, caraway, cumin, and dill.

Sow seed in zones 7 and 6; in zones 5 and 4 wait until next month. Anise hyssop is a variety of hyssop in the mint family and can be planted from containers now, along with other perennial herbs such as beebalm, horehound, and valerian.

what ever you plant or don’t plant – remember who you are doing it for. YOU!


Plant fruiting shrubs and trees from containers now in all zones except zones 5 and 4. These uppermost elevations can still plant bareroot or balled-and-burlaped plants.

Zones 9 and 10 can plant citrus (citrus selection tips on my YouTube channel) and other evergreen fruits like star fruit, or Natal plum. Better yet – consider the low water desert goji berry.



I love flowers.  Here’s some tips for a colorful garden in our low humidity climate.

Lower elevations gardeners can plant heat loving summer annuals including zinnia, periwinkle, and moss rose. For fragrance, add stock (Matthiola longipetala) to this list, but grow it in a terra cotta pot and expect it to give up at 100F. You may have to order seed and grow it yourself, in which case you start it at the same time you start mustard greens for the garden (they’re in the same family).

Golden dyssodia. These pretty little daisies love the heat of summer. Photo courtesy W. Anderson.

In the upper elevations, you may be just now taking annuals out of their protective cold frame and planting them into the ground. You can plant now but zones 6 and 5 gardeners should keep frost protection handy.    Zone 4 gardeners should wait until next month to set annuals into the soil.


Gardeners in lower elevations can plant perennials that flower in summer and fall. Here are a few of my favorites:  (Blue is on this site, maroon is on my YouTube channel)

iris * (Iris species)
lavender * (Lavendula species)

Lavender is blooming in my garden as I write this. Is it a perennial flower or an herb? YES!

hummingbird trumpet * (Zauschneria californica)
Mexican bush sage * (Salvia leucantha)
desert zinnia * (Zinnia acerosa)
Mexican hat (Ratibida columnaris)
hesperaloe – comes in pink, coral, and red – (Hesperaloe parviflora)
Blackfoot daisy * (Melampodium leucanthemum)
desert marigold * (Baileya multiradiata)
goldeneye daisy * (Viguiera deltoidea)
gopher plant * (Euphorbia rigida)
golden dyssodia * (Dyssodia acerosa, Dyssodia tenuisecta)

* = the javelina, deer, ground squirrels, and packrats don’t eat them in my yard. Here’s my post on Wildlife Resistant landscaping.


Upper elevations need to plant any bareroot perennials as soon as they arrive. Ideally such plants in the ground before they break dormancy.    You have more leeway with container plants since there is soil around their roots, but the sooner planted, the better. Summer is coming. Meanwhile, protect plants still in their containers from freezing with blankets around the pots when frost is predicted.

There are many more things to plant, and so many care things to be done in April. Someone ought to write a book… 😉

This should help get you started for this spring.

Need Some Garden Help?

May I recommend my (out of print) book?  The Month By Month Guide offers tips for your landscape (yes even lawns and roses) in every month of the year.  I have a few copies left and am offering them to you – my loyal readers. Price is what you would pay on Amazon – only when you buy from me you get a signed copy!soule-books-buy

From the review:

“A great reference book is key to successful gardening in the region where you live. Arizona, Nevada & New Mexico Month-by-Month Gardening takes the guesswork out of gardening for anyone residing in the Southwest. With this book, you’ll know what to do each month to enjoy a thriving garden all year, from January to December. Chronologically organized, this guide is full of critical gardening when-to and how-to advice, along with illustrated step-by-step instructions.

The book’s author is Jacqueline Soule, a Tucson-based gardening expert. She knows this arid region inside and out, and she’s written several articles and books packed with her gardening advice. Arizona, Nevada & New Mexico Month-by-Month Gardening showcases Soule’s expertise in one easy-to-read guide.”

Profits from the sale of this book go to the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute.


© Article copyright Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. Okay to use a short excerpt – but you must give proper credit to Gardening With Soule. You must include a link to the original post on our site. No stealing photos.

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