close up of pink dahlia

The Sunday Gardener

What to do in March…

  1. Plant summer bulbs, such as Dahlia and Lily
  2. Pruning month: Roses, Buddleia, Cornus, Hydrangea and more
  3. Plant snowdrops for next year’s display
  4. Prepare the veg plot
  5. Sow hardier seeds and half-hardy annuals under glass

March the first month of spring and the garden is coming alive with the colour of spring bulbs. In flower are Crocus, Daffodils, scented Narcissus, Fritillaria meleagris  (common name’ Snakes Head Fritillary’) and the delicate Erythronium. 

Gardening calendars are only a guide because so much depends on the weather in March, sometimes it can be spring like with plenty of sunshine, whereas other times it’s cold and frosty. The weather will affect the degree to which the soil has warmed up ready for planting.

Books and magazines are full of ideas for plants to buy and plant out in March but, in many parts of the country, March can be a cold month with overnight frosts. Be cautious about planting frost tender plants (check out ‘frost tender’) unless you have the time (and the energy) to protect them with fleece and cloches because one frost can do a lot of damage.

When we do have some warmer days, and with the increasing light levels, it is a good time to sow seeds for later in the year.

Ideas and tips on germinating from seed and also a video with advice on how to sow and germinate from seed successfully. 

As the soil warms up, so do the slugs. Emerging delicate shoots of the herbaceous plants, such as Hosta, Delphinium and lupins are the tastiest snack for a slug. Start protecting the plants; tips on how to beat the slugs.

If you are making an early start, a greenhouse, sunny porch or under glass is ideal for containers such as hanging baskets and with bedding ready for later in the year. Growing them on under glass for a few weeks helps to get the plants established in the container before exposing them to the weather. We can grow any veg and bedding plants on in the greenhouse to make sturdy plants, and then ‘hardened off’, which means gradually accustomed to the harsher outside weather, before planting out.

Cut back Perennials

March is also the time to cut back perennials before the new growth gets too advanced, which can make it difficult to cut back without damaging the new growth. In this image, the Sedum has had all the old growth removed.

If you have left the old growth in place over the winter, cut it back now before the spring brings on the new growth.

The Veggie Patch

March is the month when planting gets under way and before planting it is worth spending time to improve the soil and raise yields. Most vegetables are hungry feeders and it’s a good idea to enrich the soil with organic matter such as well rotted manure, chicken pellets, or compost. Digging the soil and mixing in organic material will break up the soil, ensuring it is not compacted, and prepare it for the growing season. However, if it is very wet, or has been a wet winter, it is more important to keep off the soil so it doesn’t get compacted.  Many crops such as salads and carrots like a fine soil and stones are a hindrance. Raking the plot to render the soil finer makes it easier to plant into and creates a better growing medium as in the image.  

To read the full article click here The Sunday Gardener posted by AION with permission. We will feature The Sunday Gardener in future issues as there’s so much to learn and enjoy in our gardens.

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