Need some March gardening tips? Read on! The fickle weather of March makes it impossible to set dates and schedules for planting, so proceed with caution!
March Gardening Tips
March is the month when many of the beautiful spring flowering perennials begin to flower. Aubrietia, Candytuft, Rock Cress, Bergenia, Snowdrops, Witch-hazel and many others will be brightening your days. With Spring just around the corner, it is time to get serious and get the garden ready.
SHRUB and TREES
- In most areas it is still possible to do dormant spraying of fruit trees until the 15th, after that date dilute the spray by 1/2. Spraying should be done on a still day with the temperature above 40 degrees F.
- Late March and early April is a good time to transplant shrubs and trees. As soon as the soil is workable, but before buds have swelled or broken open, you can move shrubs and trees.
- Fertilize shrubs and trees if this wasn’t done in February. Use an acid type rhododendron fertilizer to feed evergreens, conifers, broad leaf evergreens, rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. Use an all-purpose fertilizer to feed roses and other deciduous trees and shrubs. If you use granular type fertilizers, be sure to water it in thoroughly.
- Finish pruning fruit trees this month – before the buds swell.
PERENNIALS, ANNUALS and BULBS
- Removing winter mulches from your flower beds- pull the mulch off gradually as the plants show signs of new growth. The purpose of winter mulch is to act as a protector from sudden changes of temperature and chilling winds, so keep in mind that it is still winter. Acclimatize your plants by removing the mulch over a period of days, allowing the light and air to reach the new growth slowly. It is much better to remove the mulch a little later than to remove it to early.
- Roses can be pruned this month. Severe pruning results in nicer long stemmed flowers and more compact bushes. Begin to spray roses for black spot.
- Feed roses.
- Sow seeds of summer blooming annuals indoors. Click for tips
- Seeds that were started indoors last month may be transplanted from the flats into peat pots and given dilute fertilizer.
- If you have a greenhouse, it is time to take cuttings of ‘wintered over’ plants such as Coleus, Chrysanthemums, Geraniums, and other perennials.
- Alternating thawing and freezing can tear plant roots and even force the plant right out of its hole. If you notice any plants that have heaved, push them back into the earth, and tamp lightly with your foot.
- Divide and transplant summer blooming perennials and fertilize established ones as soon as new growth appears.
- Plant tender bulbs and tubers (gladiola, lilies and dahlias). You may continue planting additional bulbs every two weeks until mid June to ensure a continuous source of bloom.
- Prune winter Jasmine after flowering; cut honeysuckle back to 3ft.
- Cut back established penstemons. Divide snowdrops while in leaf.
- Remove all dead blooms from bulbs.
- Fertilize any bulbs that have finished blooming with bone meal or bulb booster.
- Plant Primroses and Pansies
- Pinch off tips of Sweet Pea seedlings and Mums, when they are 4 inches tall.
- Water all bulbs during times of growth and especially during foliage and bloom development. Irrigate summer-flowering bulbs during dry weather. Keep water off foliage and blooms.
- Fertilize tulips as foliage appears and make another application after flowering. Fertilize all other spring-flowering bulbs after flowering. Apply 2 pounds of 5-10-10 or 6-12-12 per 100 square feet. Daffodils and tulips should be fertilized again in early to mid-August.
FRUITS and VEGGIES
- Take a little time to prepare the vegetable garden soil for planting. The addition of well-rotted manure, processed manure, peat moss or compost are good additives for building compost humus in the soil.
- Peas and sweet peas may be planted right now as well as perennial vegetables like Asparagus, Rhubarb, Horseradish and artichokes.
- Eggplant, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, leeks, onions, early potatoes, and radish seeds may be planted in the garden about mid month.
- Spinach, Chard, Cabbage, Cauliflower, and other hardy vegetables can be seeded or set out late in the month.
- Plant Strawberries, Blueberries, Currants, Loganberries, Boysenberries, Grapes, and fruit trees.
- Add some steer manure around your Rhubarb.
- Time to start tomatoes, lettuce, and many other vegetables from seed.
- Houseplants will react to longer days and brighter light at this time by putting out new growth. The end of this month is a good time to pinch them back to generate new growth and to thicken them. You can then begin fertilizing again with a dilute solution of soluble houseplant food.
- Turn your houseplants a quarter turn each week to make sure all sides of the plant receive adequate light, and to keep the shape of the plant balanced.
- Mist or spray your houseplants to clean away the winter’s dust, prevent Spider Mites and add a little humidity.
- Remain vigilante in watching for insects and pests. It is much easier to win a ‘bug war’ if you are aware of the infestation in it’s early stages.
ODDS and ENDS
- Weeding. Once the weeds go to seed you can be fighting that weed seed for up to seven years or more (dandelions are NOTORIUS for the seven year seed life). Most weeds can simply be pulled or cultivated out of the garden while they are young. If you know you can count on several sunny days, Round Up is a good product to apply. It only has the toxicity of table salt seven days after it is applied. The leaves carry the chemical and kill the weed at the roots. This is very good for all those weeds with long taproots. If any little portion of the root is left, a new plant can grow off that remaining root. If you don’t want to use any chemical methods, check with your local extension office for more tips. We have a link to a site that will help you find one in your area.
- Turn the compost pile. Remove any coarse mulch, from the garden, and add it to the compost
- Keep an eye out for Aphids (spray off with water) and Cutworms (Cutworm Dust).
- Repair damaged areas of the lawn. De-thatch, rake or aerate. Apply Dolomite Lime to sweeten the soil if needed. Most lawns will need a spring feeding but if thatching or liming needs to be done, do those jobs first. If moss is a problem, a combination fertilizer and moss killer can be applied, to do both jobs in one easy application. Over-seeding can be done as the last step, after the lawn has been fertilized.
- Test your soil for pH to see if any amendments are necessary. A general rule of thumb is to add 4 lbs. of lime per 100 sq. ft. of garden for every pH point below 6.5, or 1 lb. of sulfur per 100 sq. ft. for every pH point above 7.5. Sawdust, composted oak leaves, wood chips, peat moss, cottonseed meal, and leaf mold lower the pH while ashes of hardwoods, bone meal, crushed marble, and crushed oyster shells raise the pH. The best way to adjust pH is gradually, over several seasons.
- March is a good time to note areas of poor drainage. If there are pools of water in your yard that do not drain. Fill in the low spot or scoop out a channel for the water to drain away.
- Clean out all of your birdhouses now, so that they will be ready when the birds return.
- Repair any fencing, arbors, or trelliswork that is weak or has broken over the winter.
- Check the plants under the eaves of the house and under tall evergreens to see that they have sufficient moisture.
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