It could be said that March is the month for yellow. I can’t help myself and I gawk at the forsythia and the daffodils. I can’t get enough of them. I also can’t help but notice the difference between pruned forsythia and those left in their natural state. Forsythia look best left natural. If you can’t leave forsythia naturally, needing a tidier garden, than find another shrub that can tolerate pruning and not look unnatural. But the chances are you are growing forsythia because of what it does this month – bloom fantastic long arching stems of beautiful yellow flowers; so let it do what it does best, branch out and beg to be noticed adding to the yellows of spring.
With the arrival of spring, we start wanting to see beautiful gardens. Look for garden tours, events, and symposia. A garden tour is a great way to learn about gardens, plants that do well in your region, and walk away with a thousand ideas while having an enjoyable time. Even if you only walk away with one idea, it is worth it. My gauge for a successful garden tour is when everybody’s garden was somebody’s favorite.
Don’t kick yourself for not having daffodils blooming in your garden this month. Put in your day planner now to purchase spring blooming bulbs in the summer when the selection is best and plant daffodils in mid fall. As a reminder, do not cut back the leaves of the daffodils until they have finished. Once they have lain down on the ground, they can be cut back.
Ditto with the tulips. In our area, the Dutch tulips are used as annuals. But can also be a benefit for those who aren’t keen on untidy bulb foliage. I think tulips are the most underused bulb. They can be pricey, especially since they have to be replaced each year. That and the little garden critters love them too. I suspect this is why they are so underused. However, they are fantastic. I believe they are worth the money. Bulbs are long lasting and with the vast selection, they can be timed to bloom with the Dogwoods and the Azaleas.
Because I grow Dutch Tulips as annuals, I pull them as soon as the flowers are spent.
For summer blooming plants such as Gladiolus, plant corms now. Planting every two weeks from now through spring will extend the bloom time. Select well-shaped, large corms and plant in a sunny, well-drained location, planted no closer than four inches apart, 4 – 6 inches deep.
To get a jump start for a spring display, start caladiums and tuberous begonias inside. Pot up bulbs with roots down and growth points up. Keep at room temperature until they are ready to plant outside. Both are very tender and benefit in waiting a couple weeks past the last frost date.
Pansies are still looking good. We will be able to enjoy them through the end of May, if we want.Most of usually pull them in early May, after the threat of last frost, just in time to put in summer annuals. It also a good time to plant pansies.
Now is a good time to plant alyssum, snapdragon and viola. As well as larkspur and poppies seeds.
If you haven’t already cut back your Liriope, look inside to see if the new growth has emerged. If you see the new growth, it can still be cut back, but be careful that the new growth is not cut. The longer the new growth, the more difficult this task is. Cutting them back last month would have been ideal, but there may still be time- take a peek before you cut. Otherwise, trim off burnt edges and wait until next year.
My Hellebores are looking very good. Hellebores are one of my favorite plants for winter interest. I like to cut back the old leaves before (or as) the new growth emerges. Also, if you don’t want your Hellebores to spread, cut the flower heads before they release their seeds. Remember too, the Hellebores cross breed readily. So don’t trust the seed of your black hellebore to stay black if they keep company with other colors. Your original will stay black, but any babies will be something else.
Hostas are starting to come up. This is a great time to divide and share with a friend or another location in your garden.
For your daylilies, now is a good time to divide. Daylilies need dividing every 4 years or so to keep them flowering nicely. They divide easily and happily. Keep the clumps large, 3 – 5 fans each. Share with friends or find now homes in your garden. This year’s blooms may suffer, but will recover by next year. One way to look at it, if they need dividing, they are suffering anyway by not being divided!
Bee balm (Monarda) is sprouting now (and last month too.) Take this opportunity to transplant and move around in the garden or to give to friends.
Spring is a good time to divide bleeding hearts, garden phlox, hostas, coreopsis, chrysanthemums, ajuga, and Shasta daisies. Transplant to other areas of your gardens, share with a friend, or donate to a plant sale.
Herbaceous peonies will be up soon. I love, love, love Peonies. The blooms of this long living perennial may only last a couple of weeks, but I cannot resist their scent and beauty.
If you haven’t cut back your ornamental grasses yet, you may still have time. Look inside the plant to see if the new growth has emerged. Be careful not to cut the new growth.
If you needed a good excuse to grow Carolina Jessamine, look around and get inspired. They are blooming everywhere – mailboxes, entrances, sides of homes, fences, anywhere you wish to add some local color.
Transplant seedlings of columbine, Lenten rose, purple coneflowers, and bee balm to an appropriate spacing, to move to another part of the garden, or to share with a gardening friend.
TREES AND SHRUBS
Look at those Redbuds. Mine opened up around the middle of the month. Before that it was the Peaches and Cherries.
Coppice American beauty berry. It helps stimulate growth and control size.
This is the time of year bear-root plants should be planted. Either purchased as the independent garden center or received from the mail order nursery. When they arrive, as the name applies, the roots will be bear. These plants are dormant, without soil or potting mix, their clean roots moistened by damp sphagnum moss or softwood shavings, newspaper or the like. Depending on the plant, the bear root could have a husky root system, but not leaves yet. or a chunk of roots, in either case, the plant looks nothing like what it will become. The roots will soon sprout leaves and grow into fine plants. Be sure to plant as soon as possible. If the roots dry out, the plant’s health will be compromised. Bear-root trees and shrubs benefit from extra care before planting. Soak the roots in a bucket of water for 2 hours or more to help restore moisture. In fact overnight is fine, but not much longer than that. When planting, be careful not to plant too deeply. Locate the soil like on your woody plant or a change or color, or a thickened area where the stem meets the roots. Use these markers as guidelines. Leave the crown (where stems sprout) at soil line when planting.
There is sill time to plant trees and shrubs.
Prune fig trees. Fertilize fig and blueberries with a well balanced fertilizer (10-10-10).
Roses are starting to put out new growth. We are ending the optimum time to plant bare root roses. Now is a good time to add a slow release organic fertilizer. Roses are heavy feeders. We will get a good couple of months before we see black spot or Japanese Beetles. The Lady Banks rose will be blooming soon. I love this Rose. It may only bloom once a year, but it virtually maintenance free, free flowing, and stunning. I have two; one on the South side of my house trellising up a Chinese Windmill Palm and another growing up a Maple tree, again, on the South side (of the property and the tree.)
As the new growth is emerging, cut back the winter burned leaves of St. John’s-Wort.
March is a great time to direct sow parsley. Your Tiger Swallowtail larvae will love you for it!
March is typically a wet month. Unless there was a winter drought, watering is not necessary. Even in a drought, given the cooler temperatures, watering perennials once every 4 weeks and annuals every 2 weeks is all that is necessary. Tress and shrubs will not likely need watering. However, your specific conditions will dictate what is necessary.
Your bulbs will appreciate an application of a complete fertilizer as the green appears.
Pansies and violas appreciate a slow-release application now.
Now is still a good time to lay mulch. This gives you enough time to allow gardens to have a nice chill, killing off insects and such, while still protecting our plants. Also your perennials are just emerging and laying mulch is much easier before the plants are up. I like to use composted leaf mulch, but most of my clients still like triple shredded hardwood mulch. It looks best right after it is laid. Oh for our gardens to look as good as it looks right after mulch is applied. For my clients who use the hardwood mulches, I recommend lightly raking the mulch every quarter to remove the larger pieces. It is these pieces that bleach out in the sun like old bones in a desert. Racking them up and using elsewhere in the garden helps extend to look of mulch. Of course, if you use composted leaf mulch you will not be off the maintenance hook. There will be plenty of bits of trash to pick up as the mulch is consumed.
Spot weed your beds and grass. I hand pluck out my weeds. If you do this before they get out of hand, they can be managed. Also in my beds, I use a hoe and just cut the weeds below the surface of the soil.
For your Bluebirds have your nesting boxes ready. They are looking to nest!
For your birds, if you haven’t done so already, now is a good time clean out your nesting boxes. Removing old nests and debris from birdhouses gives a new family a fresh start. It is also a good idea to scrub your birdbaths.
Here is something to think about:
Nature’s first green is gold.
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
– Robert Frost