March is the month when all the tidying and preparation for the coming season takes place. There’s much to do but the weather in the South West hasn’t been helpful, with a dump of snow and a lot of rainfall, which shows little side of abating. Still, that means it is a good time to mulch borders.
Mulching is important as it will work as a barrier against weeds, which will love the damp soil as it warms up. So weed through the bed first before mulching.
A mulch can be made from various matter, such as leaf mould, well-rotted manure, bark chippings and compost. We stock various options if you don’t have these available. Don’t crowd in plant stems, give them room to grow.
As we had such hard weather, it’s worth taking a look around your garden for frost damage. Cut affected stems back now to encourage new growth.
Snowdrops did well this year, so now is the time to lift and divide them. Carefully replant them, some in the same place as before, and others in a new area. This will help to naturalise them and encourage even more flowers next year.
Pansies and Violas have given lots of pleasure over the late winter weeks. You can encourage a longer flowering period by removing dead flower heads. This will prevent seeding, though you may want to leave some seeds in the hope that they will come up next autumn.
The daffodils have barely had time to get started, but as soon as they have flowered, and the flowers die off, deadhead them and leave the foliage. Some people like to tie the foliage into a bundle to keep the garden looking tidy – a lot of work, though! You can give the daffodils a liquid feed to thank them for the hard work they’ve had of flowering this year.
Most roses can be pruned now, although some varieties such as climbers and shrubs are better pruned after flowering in the summer. Other types can be cut back to around six inches from the ground. There’s lots of mysticism about pruning a rose, but typically you will need to cut just above a bud and prune crossing branches to leave an open centre. Root suckers should be removed as low as possible, close to the root, and any dead or diseased shoots cut away. Roses can also be sprayed for blackspot and rust and as the weather warms up, aphids.
Pots will need to be tidied and any remaining growth from last season removed. Spring bulbs like crocuses are quite late this year, so give them room to push through. Check for pot-bound plants. Remove the plant, loosen the roots and repot in fresh compost.
Fruit and veg
Everyone loves a fresh potato, and early varieties of seed potatoes are probably safe to plant now. Maincrops need to waist of a couple of weeks.
You can also start on your vegetable and salad growing. Tomato, pepper and cucumber seed can be sown soon in your greenhouse. These can be planted out in April, when there’s no chance of frosts. You can also sow radish and lettuce for salads, and other vegetables including peas, cabbage, cauliflowers and carrots.
Hopefully the early flowers on fruit trees are only just appearing in your garden. If frosts threaten again, you can cover the trees in fleece or polythene. You can apply a fee around the roots now, too.
This is also a good time of year to consider repotting indoor plants. Only do this if the plant needs it. Check by removing the plant from the pot, carefully, and if much of the compost is covered by roots, repot into a slightly bigger pot. Feeding now should be increased, high nitrogen for plants with eye-catching leaves and high potash for plants grown for their flowers. Most Amaryllis have finished flowering. Don’t cut the leaves back but keep watering and feeding the plant until the leaves die back naturally.
March is a great month to visit our garden centres for inspiration for planting for your summer garden. We have a wide range of summer bulbs with an even more impressive choice of dahlias, gladioli and begonia this year.
Enjoy March in the garden, let’s hope for some sun!