March is a busy month in the garden, with everything bursting back into life. It’s also unpredictable, with all sorts of weather possible, from sunshine to frost and even snow, so it’s worth being ready to protect your plants against sudden cold snaps. By the end of the month, the weather should have settled down and your garden will really be starting to bloom.
Your essential March checklist
- Daffodils and spring bulbs will be going over now. Keep deadheading, but don’t cut the leaves back until much later, to allow the bulbs to store food for next year.
- If you haven’t pruned your roses yet, you still have time. They’ll benefit from a good, hard prune, encouraging them to put a spurt of growth on as the weather warms up.
- Towards the end of March, feed your roses with a rose fertiliser to encourage plenty of flowers in summer. Feed blueberries, rhododendrons and camellias with an ericaceous plant food like Sulphate of Iron.
- Early potatoes can go into drills as long as the soil isn’t waterlogged, or you can plant them in large tubs with a good garden compost
- Cut Cornus sanguinea cultivars back hard now and they’ll produce lots of strong new shoots to give your garden colour next winter.
- On a dry day, mow your lawn with the blades on a high setting.
Flowers and borders
- Now’s the time to plant lilies and other summer-flowering bulbs in pots and borders for a great summer display. In colder areas, plant summer bulbs in pots in a greenhouse, ready to move outdoors when the weather is warmer. (If you have cats, avoid lilies, which are very poisonous to them, and stick to other summer bulbs such as gladioli or iris.)
- In mild areas, sow hardy annuals like nigella, cornflowers and poppies outside, or create your own meadow with a wildflower seed mix that the butterflies and bees will love.
- Feed shrubs with a general purpose fertiliser and mulch them with well-rotted farmyard manure.
- Lift and divide overgrown perennials like daylilies and agapanthus. Use two garden forks back-to-back to lever clumps of roots apart, or cut with a sharp knife or the blade of a spade, then replant the new clumps. This may seem brutal, but it will rejuvenate your perennials, as well as giving you extra plants!
In the veg garden
- Weed your vegetable beds and dig in well-rotted farmyard manure, ready for spring planting.
- In mild areas, you can start sowing carrots, parsnips and radishes outside. In colder parts of the country, sow them in pots in the greenhouse ready to plant out next month.
- Towards the end of the month, sow tomatoes and chillies in pots in the greenhouse, or on a sunny windowsill. A windowsill propagator will get your seedlings off to a great start.
- Plant onions and shallots now, and cover them with fleece for the first month to stop birds pulling out the young plants.