March is the first month of Spring, longer and brighter days at last! After a relatively mild February this year, there are likely to be some cold weeks but overall the average daily temperature will be increasing, encouraging our gardens into life again.

Plants to buy or enjoy in March

Herbs: Seek out small herb plants to pot up in containers near your back door

Young bedding plants: Look for good value young bedding plants to grow-on in your greenhouse, until they can be planted out.

Some plants to enjoy: Bergenia, Camellia, Daphne, Hellebores, Primroses.

General garden maintenance

• If dry enough, mow lawns and re-cut the edges with a half-moon edging tool
• Dig out a small pond to attract more wildlife
• Put slug barrier products around the new shoots of Hostas
• Replant pots of flowered bulbs from indoors into borders
• Check that tree ties aren’t too tight and that stakes are still firmly in the ground
• Prune out any wind-damaged branches on trees and shrubs
• Check for new shoots of ground elder, fork these up & remove all roots you see
• Place bug boxes in sheltered corners, for insects to lay their eggs
• Keep putting out food for garden birds, as the breeding season gets underway
• Cut back winter-flowering Jasmine to tidy it up and encourage flowers next year

Flowerbeds & pots

• Deadhead any daffodil seedheads on daffodils leaving the leaves to die back naturally
• Finish pruning roses early in the month
• Cut Dogwoods, Willows and Cotinus right down to the base to promote vigorous new growth
• Start sowing hardy annuals outdoors, including California poppies & Nasturtiums
• Tidy up alpines as they start to flower, removing dead foliage, then mulch with grit to keep the foliage off damp soil
• Plant lilies and other summer-flowering bulbs in pots
• Feed ericaceous shrubs, such as Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Camellias and Pieris, with an ericaceous fertiliser
• Tidy up borders, removing established and newly-germinating weeds, then mulch generously with garden compost
• Plant new roses and other shrubs and climbers
• Sow native wildflower seeds in trays or modules, to produce plants for your own mini-meadow
• Scatter general-purpose fertiliser over flowerbeds and around roses, shrubs and hedges

Fruit & Vegetables

• Give blackcurrant bushes a high-nitrogen feed
• Sow tomatoes, chillies, sweet peppers and aubergines in pots indoors
• Plant onion and shallot sets, spacing them 10-15cm apart, and keep the bed free of weeds
• Avoid carrot root fly by sowing an early crop of carrots under cloches or fleece
• Make the first outdoor sowings of spinach, covering with cloches or fleece
• Plant early potatoes in trenches in the ground or in pots
• Sow parsnips as soon as the soil starts to warm up, as they’re slow to germinate and need a long growing season
• Plant a fig tree in a large container to restrict its roots, which encourages fruiting and limits its overall size
• Start hoeing veg beds as soon as the weather starts to warm up, as weeds will germinate quickly
• Plant strawberries in a hanging basket or trough to keep the fruits away from slugs

Greenhouse or Windowsill

• Open greenhouse vents on sunny days to prevent humidity building up
• Get celeriac, celery, lettuces and parsley off to a good start sowing indoors, to transplant into the garden later
• Sow a selection of vibrant annual climbers, such as Spanish flag (Ipomoea lobata) and black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata)
• Sow Coleus on a warm windowsill to enjoy their vibrant foliage indoors or in tropical-style displays outside
• Sow dwarf French beans in a large pot for an early indoor crop in June
• Pot up overwintering cannas into fresh compost, water in, then place in a warm spot to spur them into growth
• Sow sweet peas in deep pots and keep in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill
• Protect greenhouse sowings of beans, peas & sweet peas from hungry mice