As we approach the last of the summer there’s still plenty of prep to do before the colder weather sets in. Here’s your gardening guide for March
Your March gardening to-do list
+ As we head towards the end of summer, many plants are looking a little jaded. It’s time to refresh with seedlings of late-blooming types, such as zinnia, calendula, marigold, pansy, polyanthus, poppy, stock, sunflowers, sweet pea and viola. Add late-flowering perennials, such as sedum, too.
+ A good feed with an all-purpose fertiliser will often give plants new life and more flowers. Throw in some compost, sheep pellets and other manure as well. Deadheading also helps.
+ Dahlias, delphinium, hollyhock and other tall flowering perennials should be well staked so they don’t flop or snap their stalks in windy conditions.
+ Keep up the watering and mulching while it’s hot. Remember, mulching helps to conserve moisture and prevents weeds putting their roots down deeply.
+ The naturalistic look is big right now – think mass planted grasses, flaxes and perennials. One of the most cost-effective ways of achieving this is to divide up existing plants. Maybe your neighbour or a friend has some clumps of asters, daylilies, dietes, flax, helleborus, libertia or rengarenga that are getting too big? You’ll be doing them a favour as dividing overgrown perennials is necessary every 3-5 years to revitalise plants.
+ Do the same with crowded iris clumps. Dig them up and divide into smaller sections with 3-4 shoots. Trim off the top third of leaves and replant.
+ With its warm days and cooler nights, March is when powdery mildew and other fungal diseases thrive. Google ‘powdery mildew’ for make-your-own remedies using milk, baking soda and sulphur, or try ready-made products such as Yates Nature’s Way.
+ Cut back flowering shrubs and climbers such as abutilon, bougainvillea, bottlebrush, hydrangea, hebe, hibiscus, lavender, manuka, rosemary and vireya rhododendrons, trimming off dead flowers and straggly growth to keep them in good shape.
+ March is traditionally bulb planting time. Prepare garden beds and pots for daffodils, freesias, ixia, ranunculus, spraxia and other spring-flowering bulbs. In warmer areas, wait until temperatures cool down before planting tulips and hyacinth. Remember, the depth of the bulb is important. Check the packet or plant at a depth roughly twice the width of the bulb.
This gorgeous Arbor planter designed by Wellingtonian Alex Buckman is also available as a pendant light. Made of powder-coated aluminium and steel, the planter costs $185 from The Clever Design Store.
Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Simon Kenny/ Bauersyndication.com.au.