Jobs to do in March
At last we get to March, when the days are noticeably longer and green shoots are popping up all over the place.
By the end of March I usually target to have all of the borders cleared of debris, pruned, weeded and mulched. I find that if I don’t achieve this I seem to struggle to catch up for the rest of the season, especially as Spring is a very busy time of year for a Garden Designer, but there are of course lots of other jobs to get on with too.
March is the ideal time to split and move established clumps of summer and autumn flowering perennials so giving them a new lease of life. Plants that will benefit from this treatment often start growing shorter, the flowers can be less significant, blooming for briefer periods, and the stems can be thin and congested.
To begin, the plant should be lifted with a fork, taking care not to damage the root ball unnecessarily. Excess soil should be shaken off and any visible weeds removed. With some plants small clumps readily break off, other larger ones will have to be split with two back to back forks, and some require more of a hatchet job with a spade or knife, but the principles are the same – new clumps should have a decent amount of root, should be planted as swiftly as possible and given a good watering. A brilliant way of increasing your stock of perennials.
This month is also the time for planting summer flowering bulbs such as Lilies and Gladioli. I have currently 240 mixed Gladioli bulbs staring at me from their boxes but hopefully these will be planted in an area for cut flowers by the middle of next week….with a good wind.
I always pot up my Dahlia tubers in March in pots of fresh compost in a cold greenhouse. In some areas of the country it is possible to overwinter these in the ground with some winter protection, but not in the wet clay soil of Cheshire, I’m afraid. By the end of the month new shoots should form and healthy plants will be established in time for planting outside when all danger of frost has passed. This is comfortably by the end of May in my part of the North West.
Dahlia “Good Earth”
Dahlia “Bill McKnight”
Although I am well ahead of weeding my planting beds the march of the Dandelion continues. Now is the time for action! Using a systemic weedkiller (ie one that works on foliage to kill the root) begin the attack on early forming Dandelions: Although these weeds can be dug out, this method is only effective on the smallest of plants. The whole ‘tap root’ of a Dandelion needs to be removed to prevent regrowth and this is nigh on impossible for an established specimen. If the smallest piece is left it will return with a vengeance. On a dry, still day spray the victim with a weedkiller containing glyphosate and wait for it to shrivel. Very meaty Dandelions will require repeat treatments but you will eventually be victorious.
Other jobs for March include:-
- Continued sowing of annual seeds in propagators or on a light windowsill indoors (see Sowing Seeds blog).
- Deadheading spent early flowering bulbs such as Daffodils
- Applying a handful of blood fish and bone fertiliser to perennials.
- The protection of new shoots of plants such as Hostas, Delphiniums, Acanthus (Bear’s Britches) and Day lilies from slugs.
- Consider asking a Garden Designer to redesign your garden, or check out your own ideas with some consultancy. Read my article ‘Why use a Landscape/ Garden Designer’.