Playing in the dirt: It's March and gardeners have much to do

March 10, 2018 10:00:38 PM



March is known for lion- and/or lamb-like weather, but from where I sit at this writing, it seems like fish- or seal-like would be more appropriate. My backyard is still squishy, and there is mud all around me. And apparently there is more rain forecast. Come on meteorologists -- could you order some wind and sun? (Nothing severe though, please.) I need to get out and separate some perennials for their own good and for the plant sale. Now, you remember the plant sale: April 14 at Brickerton in Columbus, just like last year. Don't be surprised if offerings are somewhat slimmer this year. The winter was not kind to the Master Gardeners' efforts at starting cuttings.


If you didn't get signed up for the Master Gardener classes this year, I'm afraid you'll have to wait until next year. But we welcome those who are currently in the 2018 class.


If the yards ever dry up enough to walk in, there are many things to do in the garden for March. So here are some monthly tips:



  • Planting -- Plant new roses before March 15. Broad-leaved evergreens such as magnolia and holly can be set out at this time. Plant cold weather annuals Sweet William, English daisies, pansies and calendulas.


    Divide mondo grass and liriope. Divide cannas, chrysanthemums, coreopsis, phlox and Obedient Plant. Start seeds for tomatoes, bell peppers and eggplant.


    Set out thyme, lemon balm, oregano, chives, sage, and winter savory. Sow seeds of Johnny jump-ups, sweet peas, larkspur, forget-me-nots, and baby blue eyes.


    Flowering shrubs may be moved at this time. Larger shrubs should be moved with a ball of dirt, and smaller shrubs may be moved bare-rooted. This is the best month to move crape myrtles. Lawns may be sodded at this time. Plant gladiolus throughout this month for continuous bloom. Plant hostas. Caladiums can be started in outdoor containers as soon as weather warms.


  • Fertilizing -- Fertilize all the garden except acid-loving plants. Top-dress camellias with azalea-camellia fertilizer. Lime peonies, clematis and boxwoods.


  • Pest control -- Spray new rose leaves for black spot weekly.


  • Pruning -- Prune roses at this time. Remove dead and weak canes. Properly dispose of clippings. Prune crape myrtles and altheas. Prune evergreens for shape and size as early in the month as possible. Cut English ivy back very hard. It will come back very nicely in the spring. Trim mondo grass and liriope with lawn mower set on highest setting (6 inches). Dispose of trimmings.


  • Mulch -- Replenish mulch around azaleas and camellias.


    Sharon Carrigan of Columbus monthly shares gardening tips on behalf of the Lowndes County Master Gardeners.