Gardening in March: As the weather warms up and the days get longer, the focus is on planting and sowing

Perennials and bulbs

If you haven’t cleared away the dead stems from last year’s perennials, now’s the last chance to do it before the new growth comes through and makes it really tricky to see what’s what. Get to grips with plants such as echinacea and rudbeckias and cut them back as close as you can to the ground.

Also, keep an eye out for plants that you can divide. Look for any congested clumps of perennials such as persicaria, geraniums, daylily and iris – in fact, pretty much anything with lots of stems. Dividing a plant will keep it healthy and enable you to double your stock!

Fruit and vegetables

Sow lettuces, tomatoes, salads and cauliflowers under cover. Outside, you can sow peas, carrots, beetroot, summer and autumn cabbages, herbs, leeks, spinach, turnips, spring onions, broad beans, Brussels sprouts and parsnips.

This is also a good time to start planting out early potatoes, onions, garlic and shallots. Permanent crops, such as asparagus and strawberries, can also be planted now.

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Roses

March is the latest you should plant bare-root roses. These are usually purchased by mail order and arrive, as the name suggests, not in a container but with their roots exposed, so it’s very important to get the plants into the ground as soon as possible.

Roses appreciate well-drained, rich earth, so pile in plenty of well-rotted manure or other soil improver before you plant.

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IF YOU ONLY DO ONE THING…

…plant summer bulbs such as gladioli, crocosmia, lilies and agapanthus outside. You can pretty much forget about them once they’re in and they’ll be a wonderful surprise when August comes. Or put some dahlias in pots under cover where they can start to grow. They can then be planted out once the danger of frosts has passed.

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It’s Springtime i.e. time to get into the garden and grow something! The days are starting to get longer and the sun is shining (mostly) and it is the perfect time to grow your own vegetable gardens. Here are vegetables to plant (or start) in March/April for most zones.

Spinach and Lettuce

Both spinach and lettuce are fast growing and can be seeded in a spring garden. They like the cool weather and will continue to grow until it gets too hot out. Since they are so fast though, you can harvest the baby leaves for at least 6 weeks before the heat comes. In milder zones, they can be grown right through summer.

Carrots and Radishes

Another set of vegetables that grow great in the spring are carrots and radishes. Radishes are the fastest growing vegetable and are ready to harvest in as early as 24 days. Carrots can be harvested around 30 days. These two should be planted once the ground has thawed out or in a container garden that is at least 12 inches deep.

Tomatoes

Plant tomatoes from seeds or transplants in early spring. They can grow throughout summer as they are heat loving plants. Tomatoes put out a healthy root system and need monthly fertilizing to grow lots of yummy tomatoes. Grow cherry tomatoes, large Beefsteak tomatoes, and a few other varieties so that you will never run out of tomatoes on the vine this year!

Squash

Squash are the perfect plants to grow in March and April. This includes yellow crookneck squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and even winter squashes like Butternut Squash. These are best grown from seed at least a couple feet apart. One plant can feed two people quite easily. Winter squash is actually planted in the Spring and harvested in the summer but you can store the hard-shelled squash for a few months after that.

Peppers

Both Bell Peppers and hot peppers like jalepenos are best planted in the Springtime. They grow great from seed and will produce peppers until early Fall as they love the heat of summer. They could use a monthly side dressing of organic amendments to keep those peppers growing.

These are just a few of the options of vegetables to plant in March to get your garden growing!

What to Plant in March

Here are our lists of what to plant in March. “s” denotes to grow from seed and “se” from seedling. For our comprehensive growing guide check out our planting calendar, covering nearly 80 varieties of veggies, herbs and fruits.

Cool/mountainous
Beetroot s
Broad Beans s
Broccoli se
Brussel Sprouts s
Bok Choi/Pak Choi se
Carrot s
Cabbage s
Cauliflower s
Celery se
Coriander se
Fennel se
Garlic (bulbs)
Herbs (all except basil) se
Kale se
Lettuce se
Parsnip s
Peas s
Rocket se
Radish s
Silverbeet se
Spinach se
Spring onion se
Turnip s
Strawberry se
Swede s
Temperate
Beetroot s
Broad Beans s
Broccoli se
Brussel Sprouts s
Bok Choi/Pak Choi se
Carrot s
Cabbage s
Cauliflower s
Celery se
Coriander se
Fennel se
Garlic (bulbs)
Herbs (all except basil) se
Kale se
Lettuce se
Parsnip s
Peas s
Rocket se
Radish s
Silverbeet se
Spinach se
Spring onion se
Turnip s
Strawberry se
Swede s
Sub tropical
Beetroot s
Broad Beans s
Broccoli se
Brussel Sprouts s
Bok Choi/Pak Choi se
Carrot s
Cabbage s
Cauliflower s
Celery se
Coriander se
Herbs (all) se
Kale se
Lettuce se
Rocket se
Radish s
Peas s
Silverbeet se
Spinach se
Spring onion se
Strawberry se
Tropical
Beetroot s
Bok Choi/Pak Choi se
Carrot s
Capsicum se
Celery se
Chilli se
Cucumber se
Eggplant se
Herbs (all) se
Lettuce se
Pumpkin se
Rocket se
Radish s
Silverbeet se
Spinach se
Spring onion se
Squash se
Strawberry se
Zucchini se

March

Provided they’ve been suitably hardened-off, container-grown plants can be planted out at any time of year in frost-free parts of SEQld. However, this is an ideal time as summer rains will (hopefully) have recharged the now-warm soil. Combined with autumn’s mild air temperatures, conditions should promote plant establishment before growth slows/stops over winter and our drying westerly winds pick up. Many tough plants can get by with whatever falls from the sky once they’re well-established, but will still need supplemental watering in the early stages. See also Planting and Establishment

Pruning

The end of flowering is an opportune time to prune shrubs like Buckinghamia and Murraya paniculata.

However, leave winter and spring flowering shrubs alone as they will be flowering soon or initiating their flower buds now. Examples are poinsettia, snowflake, camellias, gordonia, and azaleas. Now would be a good time to supply at little extra potassium.

The Queensland Rose Society Inc recommends a light prune of roses some time between February and mid-march. This, in addition to fertilising, watering and mulching, will encourage a good autumn display approximately 8 weeks after pruning (assuming you have modern repeat-flowering varieties.) More advice on how to grow roses in Queensland from the Society: Ten Tips to Successful Rose Growing and Monthly Rose Care and .

Vegetables

March is an excellent time for getting a wide range of veggies in the ground in SE Qld, allowing gardeners to make the most of the mild autumn conditions ahead. Try tomatoes, capsicums and eggplants; lettuce; radish; carrot, beetroot and silverbeet; beans, peas, cucumber and zucchini; cabbage, broccoli; turnip, onions, garlic.

Furthermore, if you want to try broad beans, parsnips or cauliflower, get them in now for winter. The window of opprtunity for these varieties in the Brisbane area is small as they really prefer require a cool to cold climate. Given the wide variety of other vegetables to choose from, you might choose not to risk disappointment and leave these these crops to our friends in chillier regions.

Time to plant strawberry runners. Ideally, obtain certified disease-free stock. If you can’t find them locally, they may be obtained by mail-order. Potted strawberry plants are also available from garden centres, which are an easier option if you just want to try a few plants.

See also: Vegetables, Seed raising.

Fruit Trees

Sorry, monthly notes for fruit haven’t been produced yet.. In the meantime, you can try the main page dealing with this subject and check the links for the type of fruit tree you’re interested in, here: Fruit Trees

The Flower Garden

March and early April is the main month for sowing Annual Flowers for a spring display. This practice is not as popular these days as it once was, given the shortage of space, time and water we have to deal with these days.

Nevertheless, it might be fun to try if you have some empty beds to fill (e.g. while waiting for shrubs to fill out a new garden). A packet of mixed spring flower garden seed can provide quite a variety for just a few dollars. You can save the seed of any that you particularly like or do particularly well for you and use these to fill empty spots or create seasonal container displays in the years to come.

Alternatively, try some annuals in containers to brighten up entranceways, patios etc, You can try seed, but if you only need a few plants, seedlings in punnets the local garden centre are fast and easy.

If you want to try sweet peas, wait until the end of the month or early April. Planting on St Patrick’s Day (17th March), according to the old tradition, may be a little premature if conditions are still hot and wet. However, the the date nevertheless serves as a useful reminder to prepare a bed (add lime or dolomite if it hasn’t been done recently), buy seed and prepare the trellis.

More: Annual Flowers and Bedding Plants, Seed raising

Garden shows, open gardens

Things really start to get going for the year in March when it comes to garden openings, shows, expos. Check the Events Diary and see if there’s something on near you.

Looking ahead

You might be thinking about using the upcoming Easter break and the cooler weather to catch up on some jobs around the garden. To make the most of your time, prepare now. Get those tools clean and sharp, make sure there’s line in the trimmer, and stock up on supplies. Here are some pages you might find useful: Garden Tools, Clothing, Boots, Gloves, Hats, Fertilisers, Soil Conditioners and Amendments, Mulches, Potting Mixes and Growing Media

March Growing Guides

March often feels as if it’s still winter, especially with it’s famous ‘March winds’ which can quickly make you wish you were back inside where it’s warm. But in a polytunnel, the wind isn’t a problem and you can focus instead on what’s happening to all your overwintering plants – which are suddenly growing, and many of which are either actively bolting or thinking about it.

Broad beans and peas planted in January should begin to flower this month. However, if you planted them in late autumn they will be developing small pods. These will become a valuable source of food in the ‘hungry gap’, when there’s nothing much left from winter and the spring crops aren’t yet ready, which begins around the end of the month.

Overwintering plants such as celeriac, lettuce and pak choi will be very keen to bolt this month, but you can delay things by trimming off all but a few leaves. This will slow them down enough to allow you to continue to enjoy them well into April.

Celery will have recovered from the winter lull and should now be producing some beautiful edible stems. It won’t last, so make the most of it!

While frost will have invariably killed off all my outside chard, the polytunnel plants will have survived but are now determined to bolt. However, one of the great things about chard is that the flavour of the leaves doesn’t change, and as bolting is a long and quite spectacular process (flowering chard plants well over 2m tall…) they will tide you over until the younger plants are ready to pick from in June. A few plants in the polytunnel guarantees a year-round crop of this, surely one of the most valuable of all the ‘green leaf’ plants – and one that you hardly ever see in the shops.

If you started off any tomato plants under lights in January they should begin flowering about now. As it’s roughly 60 days from seed to flower and another 60 days from flower to fruit, early tomato flowers means a crop that you can be enjoying long before any blight appears.

If you planted elephant garlic in October it should really be getting going now, and may easily be well over a foot tall.

Top Tips

Sometime in March your polytunnel will take over from windowsills and cold frames as the best place for new seedlings, so you need to provide somewhere where they will a) get plenty of light and b) won’t be constantly in the way. Rather than taking up valuable floor space, why not hang some staging from the crop bars? Ideally you want something that light can penetrate so only a little shade is cast on the beds beneath. A simple wood frame made from some scraps of 25mm x 50mm timber and covered with a sheet of rectangular wire mesh (or similar) is ideal. Then, once your plants are big enough to go into a bed, you can take the staging down until it’s needed again. Mine usually goes up in March, comes down in May, and goes back up again in late August for the autumn/winter crops.

As you take out the overwintering plants, fork in some new compost so the beds can sustain the season ahead – unless, of course, you are growing crops that prefer soil that is not too rich, such as carrots. Always keep note of what grew where so you can maintain a good crop rotation. This avoids nutrient deficiencies and also breaks the cycle of pests and diseases which can otherwise turn into a major problem.

March offers us a wide variety of weather. On colder days it’s easy to forget that in the warmer climate of the polytunnel, plants are coming out of dormancy and therefore need more water than at any time over the past several months. Don’t forget ventilation, either, or you could have a lot of sick plants on your hands. Taking care of both these will help ensure everything gets off to a great start, and stays that way.

What To Grow

March is actually a bit late for peppers. They do best when started really early, so if I planted them in February I don’t usually sow more in March. However, if you missed February, do it now! You should still get a decent crop.

Growing:
Everything on both the ‘sowing’ and ‘harvesting’ lists, plus peas, broad beans and potatoes.

Please see our Top Of The Crops for a list of over 80 Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs and Spices, Flowers and Exotics.

Vegetable seeds to sow in March

There are lots of vegetable crops that can be sown in March, when the days are beginning to lengthen and become warmer.

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Some crops, such as chillies and tomatoes, need to be sown early in the year in order to give them the long growing season that they need. Others, such as fast-growing beetroot and salads can be started off early so that you can enjoy them in late spring and early summer – keep sowing them to extend the harvest.

Tender crops like aubergines need to be sown under glass, either in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill. Hardier crops like beetroot and broad beans can be sown directly into the ground outdoors; do not sow if the ground is frosty or covered in snow.

Find out which crops you can sow in March, below.

Aubergines, chillies and tomatoes

In the unpredictable British climate, tomatoes, chillies and aubergines need a long growing season in order to produce a good crop – so start them off early. Sow under glass for the best results.

  • How to grow aubergines
  • How to grow chillies
  • How to grow tomatoes

Broad beans

Broad beans are a welcome crop in early summer, and can be sown outdoors in March. Watch out for blackfly as the plants grow – pinch out the growing tip, where they congregate.

Beetroot

Beetroot will germinate in low temperatures, so can be sown direct outdoors in March. Harvest when the beets have reached golf ball size.

Swiss chard

Swiss chard is a beautiful crop for a sunny or partially shaded spot. Sow direct outside from March onwards. Discover how to grow Swiss chard.

Salad

Start sowing salads from March onwards, and you’ll be enjoying tasty leaves for months to come. In March, they are best sown indoors.

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