Garden Care in March
What to Do:
March is maintenance month!
So here are a few pointers for prepping your garden for the cooler months that lie ahead: Prepare beds for autumn annual planting. You should work in about 30cm of compost into the soil. A handful of bonemeal or super-phosphate will also ensure the plants have all the nutrition they require to get off to a great start. Visit your local accredited garden centre to see what colour annuals they have available.
As summer draws to a close you can cut down on the amount of water you give your houseplants. It is also good practice to adjust the settings on your automated irrigation systems too. Keep an eye on the weather though, if the hot and dry temperature persist into autumn, water containers and hanging baskets every day and keep up with the garden watering. Pay special attention to plants like camellias, azaleas and hydrangeas as they won’t flower next season if they get too dry.
When it comes to your lawn, do not neglect it now seeing as the cooler days are setting in. Over-sowing your lawn in autumn is highly recommended on existing seed lawns, as it will ensure lawns remain thick and luscious all year round.
If you have clay soil in your garden, be sure to add plenty of organic material into the soil this month.
Now is a good time to start your compost heap to be ready for replacing nutrients in the soil in autumn. Use a commercially available compost bin or make your own and use a variety of materials and vegetable waste, but avoid any diseased or pest-ridden materials.
Give fynbos plants like confetti bush, a light trim to shape them up before their winter flowering. Check with your garden centre before pruning any plants aggressively.
Confetti bushes, for instance, won’t sprout again if pruned aggressively (regular, light ‘haircuts’ are the answer), but tecomas and pin cushions can be cut back to leafless, woody stems and will sprout again quickly if given additional feeding. There will still be time for the soft new growth produced after pruning to toughen up before the winter frosts and the plants will be ready to give their best when flowering time comes around.
Trim ground covers like sutera (bacopa) that may have taken strain during the hot summer months. They’ll produce fresh new growth and will thicken up nicely.
What to Plant
March is one of the best times of year to establish a fynbos garden. The plants may require additional watering in winter, especially if you’re in a summer rainfall area, but by the time summer comes around, they’ll be well established and able to endure the summer heat.
Plectranthus are now in flower and gardeners can choose between shrubby as well as ground cover forms to brighten up shady areas of their gardens. Plectranthus are especially recommended for their striking blooms from autumn to spring as well as their attractive deep green and purple foliage. Bushy plectranthus varieties come in blue, soft pink, white and a particularly attractive dark neon pink. Lovers of detail will adore the speckled throats of the blooms, but they’re just as stunning when viewed from a distance.
March is also a great time to start planting your winter veggies, so look out for cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, onions, spinach, leeks, celery, peas and oriental veggies at your local accredited garden centre.
You can also plant up a few herbs as long as you stick to the more hardy types like rocket, coriander, parsley, rosemary, dill, fennel, thyme and watercress. Find out from your nearest accredited garden centre which ones will do best in your region.
If you were thinking about planting a tree or two, you’ll be glad to know that autumn is the perfect time for planting as the roots get a chance to establish themselves before spring. Plant new fruit trees from mid-March onwards in temperate areas. Your local accredited garden centre can point you in the right direction when it comes to picking trees for your specific area.
What to Sow
March is a great time for sowing seed as the day temperatures are still warm enough but the night temperatures start dropping, which is good for the germination of cool season varieties such as African daisy, mesembryanthemums, Virginian stocks, calendula, felicia, gazania and escholzia.
Some wonderful veggies to sow would be peas, parsnip, carrots, onion (must be a short day variety, check with your local accredited garden centre), beetroot (for the leaves which will give extra vitamins in winter) and broccoli. Autumn is the ideal time to sow lawn from seed.
What to Spray
March is the beginning of autumn and the correct time to spray, using herbicides, for weeds etc. During this time of year active transport in plants would be downward to store energy for the longer winter months and therefore chemicals would reach the roots to ensure effective control of weeds for the next spring season.
Keep weeding regularly or use systemic weed killers on perennial weeds.
Pop into your nearest accredited garden centre and find out which products they have available for you.
This is your last chance to get a good burst of growth before the winter, so feed your shrubs and trees this month – prune them to shape first if they’re getting leggy or woody.
Assess your lawn for areas that might have been damaged during the busy summer months in the garden. You might need to replant or revive them with an early autumn dose of fertiliser that you can pick up from your local accredited garden