The weather can still be relatively warm during March. Day length decreases and growth starts to slow down. Wait until temperatures start to drop, especially during the night time. Once this happens it’s time to consider planting the first autumn and winter plants and flowers. This is the beginning of the all important autumn planting season.
- Important month for planting flower seeds of many well known winter and spring flowers. Sweetpeas, African daisies, Bokbaaivygies, Virginian stocks are some of the more significant.
- Most summer flowers will be over and need to be pulled out.
- Prepare the soil for planting winter and spring annuals as soon as temperatures cool down. Dig in compost and superphosphate or bone meal at the recommended application rates.
- In colder areas, plant out early seedlings of stocks, calendulas and snapdragons.
- Dead head flowers that are still performing well.
- Many vegetable seeds must be planted now. Peas, broad beans, carrots, parsnips, turnips and radish all grow exceptionally well during the cooler season.
- Harvest the last of the summer season crops like pumpkins and squashes.
- Plant out seedlings of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, spinach. Stagger plantings at 3 to 4 week intervals to ensure continuity of supply.
- Most vegetables need to grow in full day sunshine.
- As the climate cools down, most herbs grow with renewed vigour. Replace any plants that have died from summer stress.
- Sow seeds of parsley, mustard and rocket.
- Summer herbs like basil and coriander will start to go off. Harvest the crop and process into pesto for the winter season.
- Water during dry periods.
- Spring flowering bulbs are on the market this month. Buy them early and store in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator and plant out when the weather cools down in 4 to 6 weeks.
- Lift and divide perennials that have started to go dormant.
- Take cuttings of soft wooded plants like lavenders and fuchsias.
- Tidy up the dead leaves on hellebores and mulch with layer of leaf mould. This ensures a good winter display.
- Fertilise roses for the last time before winter in the colder climates.
- Continue to spray regularly against fungal infection, insects and bollworm.
- Dead head spent flowers.
- Roses generally have a spectacular autumn flush from March to April.
- Water deeply twice a week as rainfall generally reduces around now.
- Raise the height of mower blades as winter approaches and growth slows down.
- Rake fallen leaves from the grass to prevent fungal diseases. Use a soft plastic or rubber lawn rake.
- Sow seeds for new lawn grass, especially in colder areas where Shade Over and All Seasons Evergreen grow well.
- Feed with a balanced garden fertiliser like 2:3:2 to encourage root growth before winter.
- Lawn caterpillar (army worm) can still be a problem now.
- Start raking up falling autumn leaves and adding them to the compost heap. They are invaluable once they have broken down into compost.
- Protect pools from autumn leaves with a net.
- Try and catch up with weeding as growth rates decrease.
- Clean out gutters and drains to prevent fallen leaves from blocking them.