10 Things to Plant in April, from Colorful Perennials to Tasty Veggies

updated Mar 31, 2021
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garden bed full of different colored dahlia flowers
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March is a month that usually feels more like winter than spring — but April is when you can start to see your yard come to life after months of dormancy. You might have spent March cleaning up your garden to rid it of any fall leftovers like leaves or fallen branches, or maybe you were busy with any pruning tasks you didn’t get to in February. But now it’s gardening season, so it’s time to start thinking about what to plant in April.

Before you pull out a shovel, and even before you decide exactly what flowers to plant in April, it’s important to know a couple things: your agricultural zone and when your last anticipated frost day is in your location. The best place to look for that is the USDA’s 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.

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1. Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous plants like broccoli are cold-tolerant and thrive when planted in early spring for a fall harvest.

If you live in a warmer region, these dense plants also over-winter well. When starting your plants from seed, it’s best to do so indoors and then transplant them to a suitable location with full sun.

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

  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
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2. Dahlias

Although many consider dahlias a spring bulb, they’re actually a tuber, meaning they grow much like how you’ve seen a potato sprout.

According to Brock Ingham of Bigger Garden, April is the ideal time to plant dahlias, which he describes as having vivid blooms and mesmerizing patterns.

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

“If you reside in a cooler climate, hold off on planting your dahlias until late April or even May,” he says. “In warmer regions, where frost bids its farewell earlier in the year, April presents an ideal opportunity to get those tubers into the ground.”

Planting dahlias early but after the threat of frost allows them to establish before the summer heat hits.

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3. Herbs

Freshly picked herbs are a fantastic way to add flavor to salads and season meat, but these leafy greens are also a lovely addition to your veggie garden.

Planting herbs in April ensures you’ll have cilantro for your salsa and oregano for your Italian dishes. April is also a perfect time to plant mint, although be careful: Keep this plant in containers only, since otherwise its fast spread will quickly take over entire garden beds.

Here are some herbs to plant in April:

  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
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4. Beets

April is the best time to plant any veggies that reside underground, like onions, carrots, and radishes, but it’s also the ultimate time to start tasty beets from seed.

According to The Almanac, you should start planting beets in early spring, but for a full harvest, it recommends subsequent plantings every two to three weeks afterward until the middle of summer. If you’re a true beet lover, you can continue your plantings through early fall.

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5. Summer Bulbs

Many regions in the United States will have seen their last expected spring frost toward the end of April. After that date, you should start planting your summer-blooming bulbs.

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

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

Good news if you love lilies: The National Gardening Bureau chose them as the bulb of the year for 2024. They’re also one of horticulturist Peggy Anne Montgomery’s favorites.

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

If you have a way of protecting bulbs from the cold weather, such as a frost cloth, you can even plant them one to two weeks before that last frost date.  

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6. Lettuce

April will be one of the last opportunities to plant lettuce for the year, especially if you live in a region with high summer temperatures.

Lettuce bolts — or goes to seed — when the temperature rises, so it’s very important to plant it when it’s cool. “Lettuce thrives in cooler weather and struggles in extreme heat, making April an optimal time to plant,” says Susan Brandt, a plant expert at Blooming Secrets.

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

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7. Direct-Sow Cool-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 sow cool-weather seeds directly.

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

The following seeds thrive with a cooler weather head-start:

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

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8. Snow or Snap Peas

Early April will be one of the final opportunities to sow pea seeds. You can plant the seeds directly in the ground through the middle of April, as long as the ground is still cool. Peas don’t do well in warm or hot temperatures.

As you’re planting your pea crop, remember that in order for the fruits of your labor to amount to anything substantial, you’ll need quite a few plants. 

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9. Pansies and Violas

Although March is typically the optimum time to plant cool-weather annuals, it’s important to know that April isn’t too late to plant those adorable pansies and violas. They perform well until temperatures get hot, so you will still spend a lot of time with them. 

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

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

Fun fact: Pansies aren’t just pretty—they’re edible, too. Add them to salads for a little extra bite and a pop of color, or use them to top a cake.

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10. Hardy Perennials 

Finally, it’s time for a crowd favorite: perennials! Hardy perennials like these will all be available from your local nursery as rooted plants:

Bleeding heart is one of the most darling sights of spring with its little dangling blooms, which hang on until the flowers start to fade in the early summer heat.

Hellebores are also an excellent investment perennial to plant in April. They bloom through early summer and come in many different varieties that will allow you to spice up your spring garden. Even though they’re slow growing, after they establish their roots you’ll have them popping up in your garden for years and years to come.