March Gardening Tips
for the Willamette Valley
by Rod Smith
Oregon Certified Nursery Professional
© 2002-2017 Rodney A. Smith
All rights reserved.
Early perennials start blooming in March. Many old and new varieties are available
now. Use them as borders, in containers, or mixed with annuals.
Bare root, potted or burlapped plants can be planted now. Bare root plants need to
be planted early before new growth starts. The best selection of bare root plants is
found in February and March.
Peas and Sweet Peas can be planted as soon as the ground is workable.
Hardy vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, radishes and beets, can be planted from
seed as soon as the soil begins to warm up. A good sign of the time for planting is
when maple leaves begin to appear.
Flower and vegetable seeds can be started indoors for earlier flowers and
produce. Plant seeds three to six weeks before they are to be planted outside.
Gladiolus and begonia bulbs can be planted now. For a continuous bloom of gladiolus,
plant some every two weeks until mid July.
Roses should be pruned in late February or early March to remove old, unproductive
and thin, weak canes. Bush types are cut to 12 to 18" tall. Shrub roses should be left
about three feet tall. Climbers should be thinned if tangled.
Spring flowering shrubs, such as forsythia and lilacs, could be pruned now,
but flowers will be cut off if they are pruned before they bloom. Wait until summer to
prune plants that are too big because winter pruning makes them grow even faster.
Slugs will be after the first thing that comes up - your early bulbs and
perennials. Protect them with slug baits. The spray on formulas or Sluggo are safer for
pets. The best time to apply slug bait is when the hosta buds start poking up from the ground.
Feed bulbs with bone meal or bulb food when the leaves first push out of the ground.
This spring feeding helps them bloom better next year.
All berries except established strawberries could use a good feeding with an all
purpose fertilizer. Wait until after the June harvest to feed strawberries.
All trees and shrubs could use a feeding before growth begins. Use a complete, all
purpose fertilizer, or specialized fertilizer for acid loving plants such as
rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. Scatter the fertilizer under and around the plant.
Begin applying a complete fertilizer this month. If you have a problem with moss,
use a fertilizer with moss control, then apply lime.
Set the mowing height at 1.5 to 2 inches. This reduces disease problems during wet weather.
Mow when the grass reaches 2.25 or 3 inches so no more that one third of the blade is
removed at one time. If the grass is wet or tall, bag the clippings so they
do not bunch up and smother the grass.
Watch for areas that are thinning or yellowing in an otherwise healthy lawn. It
might be Crane Fly. To check, drench a square foot of soil with warm, soapy
water. If half inch long, gray brown larvae appear, treat the lawn with
beneficial nematodes, Sevin or imidacloprid.
Watch for early weeds. They are easier to control when they are young.
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