Top tips for March
At last we have longer, warmer days after a seemingly very long winter, but the weather can still occasionally be cold and frosty. Make the best of any good weather and get on with the following tasks:
Plant asparagus crowns, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onion sets, shallots and strawberry plants.
Complete mulching and feeding of fruit, applying a balanced fertiliser such as Growmore or Vitax Q4. Organic growers can use dried chicken manure pellets enriched with organic potassium.
Roses will benefit from feeding with a granular rose fertiliser as they come into growth about now.
Herbaceous perennials are starting to emerge, so protect new growth from slugs and snails.
Remove one or two inches of compost from containers with permanent planting and top- dress with fresh compost.
Summer-flowering herbaceous perennials can be divided to maintain healthy, vigorous plants, but be sure they do not dry out when re-establishing.
Deadhead daffodils as they fade, but allow the foliage to die down naturally.
Pot up begonia, dahlia tubers and lily bulbs stored over winter or bought this year.
Firm back newly planted trees and shrubs and check ties and stakes on established planting. Begin mowing lawns, but ensure that blades are set high for the first few cuts.
Time for pruning
With longer days and milder weather, the RHS Advisory Service is receiving many inquiries from members. Top of the list is the pruning many were unable to manage when it was cold and snowy.
Prune any shrub and bush roses, if not completed earlier.
Hard-prune summer-flowering shrubs such as buddleia, caryopteris, hardy fuchsia, lavatera, leycesteria and perovskia.
Coppicing (hard pruning to the ground) willow and dogwood will produce new colourful stems for next winter.
Coppice or pollard eucalyptus, catalpa and paulownia to keep them a manageable size and provide attractive foliage.
Renovate overgrown honeysuckle or jasmine and prune summer-flowering clematis to shoots about 1ft from the ground, even if new fat buds are sprouting on old stems.
Prune fruit before it comes into growth. This includes apples, pears, gooseberry and currants.
Wait until the worst of the cold is over, usually April, before tackling frost damage on bay or olives and other evergreens such as acacia, cordylines, garrya and pittosporum.
It is now too late to prune grape vines, birch, magnolia, maple and walnut. Wait until between August and Christmas when sap bleeding from cuts is at a minimum.
Avoid pruning tiered shrubs such as Cornus controversa ‘Variegata AGM and Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Maresii AGM as it will spoil their shape.
Contact anewgarden for more information