PLANT: March is a month to plant the gardener's
favorite vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet corn and snap beans
and pepper as well as cucumbers, lima or butter beans, cantaloupe,
okra (if the soil has warmed sufficiently --70 degrees F. or higher),
southern peas, pumpkin, squash, peanuts and watermelon. The last
frost of spring may have already occurred but even if it doesn't
frost the wind WILL blow. Protect tender transplants and seedlings
with Grow-Web (Plant Guard, ReeMay, Plant Shield) for wind protection,
insect avoidance and unexpected cold (4 degree cold protection).
Plant hibiscus, bougainvillea (http://www.plantanswers.com/bouganvilia.htm),
mandevilla and allamanda vines in containers for tropical landscape
color. In heavily shaded parts of the landscape where grass is
difficult to maintain, choose one of the well-adapted groundcover
plants such as English or Algerian ivy, Asian jasmine, or mondograss.
If deer are a problem in your landscape, try one of the surefire
solutions offered at:
Impatiens, fibrous begonias and coleus are summertime favorites
for shade. In areas where space is limited, plant your favorite
flowers and vegetables in containers or hanging baskets. Use Texas
Cooperative Extension recommended varieties. Recommended varieties
and sources can be found at:
Perennials which can be planted now include perennial phlox such
as 'John Fanick' and 'Victoria' , iris and daylilies. Roses can
still be planted. For the best selection of the most enduring
roses for Texas, see the rose information at:
Establish or renovate the lawn as needed. Re-sod or replant with
turfgrasses adapted to this part of Texas and suited to the planting
location (shade or sun). Plant container-grown trees and shrubs
as soon as possible. In areas which receive shade where grass
is difficult to grow, consider planting a dependable groundcover
such as English ivy, Asian jasmine, vinca, or one of the prostrate
junipers. When resodding semi-shaded areas with St. Augustine,
use ONLY the variety Floratam for best pest resistance. See:
PRUNE: If you didn't get around to pruning your
spring flowering and evergreen shrubs during February, do it in
early March. However, be sure to prune spring flowering shrubs
after they have bloomed. Cutback old chrysanthemum plantings to
encourage new growth. A severe pruning now of overgrown beds of
groundcovers will remove woody stems and induce new, compact growth
from the base whereas later pruning will retard growth. Remove
winter damaged plants once you can distinguish the dead wood from
the greenwood. Trim over-wintered houseplants to remove lanky
growth before moving them outdoors.
FERTILIZE: Use a pre-plant application of a
slow-release fertilizer analysis such as 19 - 5 - 9 at the rate
of 3 pounds per 100 square feet of garden planting area. Early
March is the ideal time to fertilize landscape plants because
you give them food just before the spring growing season starts.
ON THE LOOKOUT: Be on the lookout for a spectacular
spring wildflower display. The spring months in South central
Texas are perhaps best known for their Indian paintbrush, mountain
laurel, winecup, pink evening primrose, prairie verbena, horsemint
and, of course, the bluebonnets. Travel to Wildseed Farms (www.wildseedfarms.com)
near Fredericksburg to see all of the bluebonnet colors on display.
Bluebonnets are actually "winter weeds", so to rid the
lawn area of unwanted wildflowers, use a broad-leafed weed-killer
spray or simply mow them. If a weed-killer is used, follow label
directions carefully to avoid damage to desirable plants.
A wide variety of caterpillars may soon begin appearing throughout
the landscape and garden. Check tender foliage on such plants
as petunias, broccoli, kale, lettuce, cabbage and cauliflower.
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt.) Is a biological control that works
well on most larvae (worm). Slugs, snails and pill bugs can devastate
pansies, calendulas, bluebonnets and other cool-season annuals.
Try one of the easy-to-use bug baits. Aphids can become a major
early spring insect problem on tender spring foliage. Use an insecticidal
soap, Neem Oil Spray or an insecticide such as Malathion, diazinon
ODD JOBS: March also is a good time to divide
and transplant mums, ajuga, Liriope, daylily and Shasta daisy.
Repot overgrown, root-bound pot plants. Keep plants in light shade
March Calendar by Dr. Tom Harris
March is a major gardening month in our area. The weather stabilizes
and by the end of the month it is warm enough to consider the
warm weather plants. The average last freeze date occurs during
mid-month. This is the time to prepare beds for planting flowers
and vegetables. You may want to go in with a neighbor and rent
a tiller for this laborious task-of course a shovel or spading
fork will do the same job, it's just harder.
· You can cut tulip foliage down as soon as it is unattractive
because they probably won't come back. On daffodils, Dutch iris
and other low-chill bulbs, however, leave the foliage until it
turns brown. The green leaves are replenishing the bulbs for next
· Fall-planted pansies, snapdragons, dianthus, stocks,
alyssum and larkspur are spectacular this month.
· Containerized plants can still be put in the landscape
· It is not too late to plant daylilies and irises if
they are well rooted in containers.
· March is great geranium month. Use them in morning sun.
· If the weather is warm after the 15th, consider moving
the bougainvillea, plumeria, and hibiscus on to the patio.
· Wildflowers will begin blooming this month. Remember,
they must be allowed to mature their seeds if you want new plants
Fruits and Nuts
· You can spray fungicides while the trees are in bloom,
but not insecticides. The bees are still pollinating your fruit
trees and are susceptible to the sprays.
· It is not too late to spray dormant oil on the trunks
of pecans to control phylloxera. Apply one cup of slow release
lawn fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter. Spread thinly at the
drip line so as not to burn the grass and use a chelated zinc
· When peaches are the size of your thumb, thin them to
one fruit every 4-6 inches of stem. If you don't thin, you will
have a tree full of small fruit and broken branches.
· You can still plant blackberries which are in containers.
Keep in mind that late fruits need irrigation to produce large
· The bluebonnets should begin growing this month after
a major growth of the foliage. Do not over-water them as they
are xeriscape-type plants.
· Cross vines put on a spectacular show this month, but
"Texas Gold" columbines are even more impressive.
· Keep up the spray regimen with roses*Orthene and Funginex
are the favorites. Fertilize with rose food every 4-6 weeks according
to the label instructions.
· Don't plant caladiums yet-wait until the soil temperature
reaches at least 70 F.
· Last chance to dig and divide summer- and fall-flowering
Shade Trees and Shrubs
· Be careful not to get lawn herbicides too close to trees.
Weed-and-feed type fertilizers are notorious for killing young
· If you plant container-grown trees this month, be sure
to make a 6 ft. circle around the tree for mulch which will keep
the grass at bay. Do not add organic material to the planting
hole. The tree needs to root in the soil in which it will live
the rest of its life.
· Paint all wounds on oak trees immediately to prevent
· Beware of so-called bargains on bare-root trees and
shrubs. This late, their chance of survival is pretty low.
· Ball moss is not a parasite on oak trees, but if you
don't like the looks of it, spray copper hydroxide (Kocide 101)
· Fertilize trees early this month if you missed it last
month. Use one pound (one cup) slow-release lawn fertilizer per
inch of diameter spread at the drip line or place in aeration
· Finish any pruning except for the early bloomers such
as climbing roses, mountain laurel and ornamental fruits. Prune
them after they lose the major flush of blooms.
· Check mountain laurels for worms. Use Bt to control
· It's still too early to fertilize the lawn. It may begin
to green up, but the root systems are not fully active until warmer
weather arrives. Any greening that occurs this month is due to
fall fertilization. "Weed-and-feed" type products only
encourage weeds to grow more vigorously. Wait until next month
· March is a good month for aeration and adding a half-inch
of compost as a soil dressing if you haven't done so in two years.
· Apply pre-emergent broad-leaf herbicides like Amaze,
Balan or Betasan if you didn't apply them last month. Read the
labels carefully and be sure your weeds are listed. The weeds
that are already up may be killed by the coming heat or with contact
herbicides like MSMA or glyphosate. Follow instructions on the
· Mow your Asiatic jasmine at the highest level on your
mower to encourage a new growth of leaves.
· It's too early to plant Bermuda grass. It will not germinate
until late April or early May.
· Tune up the lawnmower and be sure the blade is very
sharp. Dull blades tear the grass, sharp ones cut it.
· Check out the automatic lawn sprinkler system for leaks,
broken pipes or heads, or wasteful misting.
· Put the containerized tomatoes in the ground towards
the end of the month. Save some for April planting and a few for
May in case of weather problems.
· Don't forget to keep onions and cole crops well fertilized
with one cup of slow-release lawn fertilizer per 10 feet of row
this month. Thin out the onions to 4 inches apart. Use the thinned
ones for green onions.