Delicious in salads and sandwiches, the crisp, sweet crunch of a cucumber is one of the joys of summer.
Gardening in March
In March, the days are noticeably longer, and it’s an opportunity to get out into the garden to enjoy some early spring sunshine. Frosts and sometimes windy weather mean that some tasks must wait, but there is optimism in the air with warmer weather and longer days ahead. As the weather gets warmer and plants start to wake up, so do pests and diseases, so it’s useful to make some early checks on the health of your garden. Spring is here, and it’s time to get busy in the garden again.
What to plant and do in March?
There’s lots to start doing with fruit, vegetables and herbs in March so that you can harvest delicious homegrown crops later in the year. To find out what to plant in March – whether fruit, herbs, bulbs or flowers (and a little more), choose a category below and enjoy our top March gardening tips for a rich and plentiful garden.
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What vegetables to plant in March
It’s a prime time to sow vegetables and there are so many options to choose from. Consider the space you have available and pick your favourites from the following list:
- Broad Beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Chilli peppers
- Globe artichokes
- Pea shoots
- Salad onions
- Spring cabbage
- Summer cabbage
- Sweet peppers
If the weather is still very cold, put cloches or mini-tunnels in place for a week or so first, to warm up the soil. However don’t worry if you are delayed by a few weeks, as seeds will usually catch-up.
What vegetables to harvest in March
Plants sown in the summer and autumn last year will produce the following crops in March:
- Brussels sprouts
- Purple-sprouting broccoli
- Spring cabbage
Vegetable plant maintenance in March
Hoe around all plants to ensure minimal competition for water and nutrients. Do this several times throughout the spring, and you will find that very few weeds pop up later in the year.
Other vegetables have additional specific needs:
- Aubergines, peppers and other plants sown under glass earlier in the year can be moved to larger pots.
- Broad Beans - stake tall varieties in case of early spring winds. Later in the month, pinch out the top 3in of each plant to deter blackfly.
- Peppers (chilli and sweet) - pot seedlings up and start to prepare a warm and sunny position for them to move to in early summer.
- Carrots - use a fine mesh of 1mm to cover the crop to prevent carrot root fly. This pest can go largely unnoticed until the crop is dug up, only to find small brown tunnels have spoiled the root.
- Onions - birds sometimes like to pull sets from the ground, so check regularly and poke them back in if necessary. Hand weed around onions.
- Peas - these need supports, as peas like to wrap their tendrils around to grow upwards. Twigs with a knobbly surface that have been pushed into the earth, or netting attached to supports at either end of a row of peas, will do the job nicely.
What fruit to plant in March
There’s just enough time left to plant fruit bushes and trees, including:
Under glass you could also sow the following seeds:
- Physalis (cape gooseberries)
Melons and Physalis will need to be potted on several times before they can be planted out in the garden in late spring. They will thrive in a long, warm summer, and are a great talking point for visitors to your garden.
What fruit to harvest in March
Rhubarb is the only ‘fruit’ which can be picked at this time of the year. The last of the apples and pears kept from last year may still be available if you were lucky enough to have sufficient quantities to store.
Fruit plant maintenance in March
March is a very busy time in the fruit garden. There’s a lot to do to give your fruit trees a good start to the year and to optimise the amount of fruit you will be able to harvest later in the year.
- Perennial weeds, such as bindweed and dandelions, will start to appear soon. Remove them straight away, and either drown or dry them out to kill them, before adding to the compost heap.
- Weed around soft fruit in particular. Many varieties are comparatively shallow rooted and will suffer if there is competition from other plants for water and nutrients.
- Raspberry plants may start to pop up beyond the patch you have dedicated for them. Dig them out if you can as they will spread to areas where you may not want them.
- New plum trees if they are still being trained to a particular shape.
- Container-grown figs.
Feed and/or mulch:
- Apricots, currants, gooseberries, nectarines, peaches and raspberries with compost from the heap.
- Strawberries with straw so that the developing fruits will not touch the soil.
- Citrus plants with a special citrus feed and repot if needed using a compost specifically made for citrus plants.
Pests and diseases:
- Net currant bushes, blueberries, gooseberries and raspberries to prevent birds from getting to the fruit before you do. Prop the netting up on canes with upturned pots on top of each one. Remember to remove the netting from time to time to allow pollinators to get to the flowers.
- Check for woolly aphids on apple trees. These are small, pale fluffy aphids which can cause damage to plants which then allows infection in. Squash or spray with water to displace them. Monitor and repeat if needed.
- Drape fleece or hessian over cherry trees, peaches, apricots and nectarines to protect from frost damage.
What roses to plant in March
It’s the last opportunity to plant bare-root roses, and you may be able to pick up a bargain as growers clear the last of their stocks ahead of a new season.
Buying online can be convenient and give you a huge range from which to purchase. If buying them at a garden centre, you can check the quality more carefully. Check that the rose:
- Does not show signs of pests or diseases which could spread to other plants
- Has a healthy root system which has not dried out and is evenly developed.
- Comes with a multi-year guarantee, so that you can get a refund or replacement if it fails to survive after you have planted it.
What roses to prune in March
March is the last opportunity to prune roses which were planted last year.
Pruning at this time of year is usually to remove diseased or dead branches, or branches which are rubbing against others, which may damage them. The following roses can be pruned now:
- Bush roses
- Groundcover roses
- Patio and miniature roses
- Shrub roses
Rose maintenance in March
Feed roses with a specially formulated food which contains ingredients particularly suitable for roses.
Mulch roses after feeding, making sure that the mulch does not touch the stem.
Re-pot roses in containers, using a specialist compost which contains the right balance of nutrients for roses.
Monitor for early signs of the following problems:
- Rose rust: Look out for yellow and orange marks on leaves, which may turn black. Prune and destroy affected growth.
- Rose aphids: Groups of small green or pink insects on young growth, sticky residue, and black ‘soot’. Encourage ladybirds and hoverflies or use a chemical control.
- Rose black spot: Look out for black patches on leaves and lesions on stems. Remove affected growth, including fallen leaves, and destroy.
Lawn maintenance in March
Mowing your lawn in March:
- Leave an area of lawn uncut to provide pollinators with flowers to forage from. Clover and daisies are attractive and beneficial to bees and butterflies.
- Sharpen the blades of your lawnmower before using it to give the grass a light mow. Cut it shorter again later in the month.
- Add grass clippings to the compost heap. This will provide a good source of nitrogen and help to get it active again.
- Trim the edges of your lawn using a half-moon edging tool. Cut against a plank of wood for straight edges, or a firm hosepipe for perfect curves.
- Create a 5-8cm (2-3in) deep edge along any borders which are next to the lawn. This will make it easier to access and maintain the grass edges throughout the rest of the year.
- Plant any freshly cut remnants of turf in a pot or seed tray. Allow them to grow and use them as grass fillers when repairing the lawn later in the year.
Problems to prevent:
- Avoid walking on the grass if there are any late frosts or after heavy rain. Doing so will damage the grass, destroying patches of lawn which will then need to be repaired.
- Look out for chafer grubs and leatherjackets which can damage your lawn. Treat as needed.
- Aerate the lawn using a garden fork. Pay particular attention to heavily worn patches, pushing the fork 3-4 inches into the lawn every 3-4 inches or so, and wiggling it around. This can help to reduce unsightly moss.
- Add sand to help drainage if over the winter you noticed particularly damp areas.
Other proactive lawn maintenance tasks at this time of year include:
- Use a spring-tined rake to remove dead grass. Leave some of the dead material in a pile to allow birds to collect and use it in their nests.
- Top dress the lawn if there are hollows to even out, incorporating lime to promote strong growth.
- Sow grass seed if there are any noticeably bare patches.
- Feed the lawn with a high-nitrogen fertiliser. Fertilisers specifically made for lawns are aimed at giving grass exactly the nutrients it needs. Water afterwards to help the roots to absorb the fertiliser.
Herbs & Spices
What herbs & spices to plant in March
Seeds of the following herbs can be sown indoors, on a windowsill or in a greenhouse:
- Lemon balm
Once they have germinated they can be pricked out to bigger pots to grow on further. They can then be moved outside to containers, or to the edge of a flower bed where they can easily be reached for harvesting once the threat of frost has passed.
Other herbs can be planted straight outside, either in to borders or large pots. They will be ready to harvest later in the same year, adding fragrance and flavour to dishes. These include:
Rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme are perennials. They will provide you with a crop for many years with very little effort - just prune to keep the plants at a size and shape which suits your garden.
Thyme is widely available as a common variety, but there are some unusual cultivars which will provide even more interest in the garden. Look out for thyme plants that also carry the scent of caraway, lemon, lime and orange.
What herbs & spices to harvest in March
With the hours of daylight increasing by the day, many herbs will quickly put on a lot of growth in March. The following plants will produce leaves that can be harvested now:
Herb & spice plant maintenance in March
What ericaceous plants to plant in March
The following plants love slightly acidic soil, and can be planted in the garden in March:
- Hamamelis (witch hazel)
- Pieris japonica
When planting a blueberry, try to plant it near another to encourage cross-pollination between them. Use a large pot which is at least 45cm (18in) across and deep. Fill with ericaceous compost, and await delicious and plentiful crops of blueberries in the summer.
When buying Rhododendrons, avoid common or pontic varieties, as they are invasive. There are plenty of other varieties to choose from, some deciduous and some evergreen.
Rhododendrons range a great deal in how big they are once full-grown. Select one which is suitable for the amount of space you have available. They are a woodland plant, so happiest in dappled shade where they will supply your garden with large, showy blooms.
What ericaceous plants to prune in March
The following ericaceous plants can be pruned in March:
- Anemone hupehensis (Japanese anemone)
- Nandina domestica (Heavenly bamboo)
It is not essential to prune them, however. Prune Nandina domestica and Camellia plants only to retain their shape. Remove dying flowers and foliage from Camellias, Hydrangeas and Japanese anemone only to improve their appearance.
Ericaceous plants maintenance in March
March is a busy time for looking after ericaceous plants:
- Feed plants in containers fortnightly with a suitable liquid plant food.
- Feed Rhododenrons and camellias with a slow-release specialist plant food.
- Water ericaceous plants with rainwater if available from a garden water-butt.
- Mulch plants in the ground with ericaceous compost, or sulphate of ammonia.
- Deadhead Trillium chloropetalum (Giant wake-robin) and Pieris japonica.
- Divide Anemone hupehensis, Liriope mascara (Lily turf), and Gaultheria procumbens (Checkerberry).
- Weed around newly planted smaller plants, such as heather, to reduce competition for moisture.
- If Azaleas were kept in a cool room over winter to provide them with dormancy, bring them back into a warmer room.
Monitor all ericaceous plants for yellowing leaves, which can indicate that the soil is not acidic enough. Adjust this with a mulch of specialist compost, pine needles, leaf mould or decomposed wood chip.