March Garden Chores

Here are some suggestions of what should be done in the garden through the month of March:

  • If you have not finished pruning the fruit trees and grapes, get on it! Days are warming and sap will be flowing, grapes especially. Leave it too late and you run the risk of awakening pests being attracted to freshly made cuts.
  • Remove dead fruit canes in the berry patch. Strengthen support wires.
  • Prune blueberries, gooseberries, currant shrubs now. Concentrate on shaping young shrubs up to two years of age, then prune for keeping the shape open to allow good air flow through the shrub, lessening the chances for pest and disease infestations.
  • Prune back late-flowering shrubs, such as spirea, hydrangea, buddleja (butterfly bush), cotinus (smokebush), and roses.
  • Prune back Group ‘C’ (or Class 3) clematis to about a foot (30.5 cm) high. If you do not know which group your clematis belongs to…Group ‘C’ clematis are those which come into flower in mid-June and continue flowering until fall.
  • If you left your late grasses (Miscanthus sp.) standing for their winter interest in the garden, cut back now before new leaf blades appear.
  • Continue with other winter cleanup that needs doing, being careful about walking on the garden beds. If they are too water-logged, you risk compacting the soil.
  • Sprinkle wood ashes (potash) around the berry canes and alkaline-loving plants such as clematis vines.
  • Plant deciduous trees, shrubs, hellebores, winter pansies, etc.
  • Turn the compost and screen it. Top dress the garden beds with this wonderful soil amendment.
  • Prepare the vegetable garden as soon as the ground allows. Amend with rich compost, seaweed, or well-aged manure.
  • Direct sow peas, arugula, radishes, pac choi, choi sum, corn salad, spinach, kale, collards and broad beans. Can also direct sow sweet peas.
  • Plant garlic now, if you missed planting in September / October…but get it into the ground before the middle of the month.
  • If you have grow lights, good lighting indoors, or a heated greenhouse…sow these varieties now:
    • vegetables: broccoli, early cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, leeks, sweet onions, celery, peppers, eggplant, tomoatoes, and bulb fennel.
    • herbs: chives, mint, lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano, summer savory, and sage
    • flowers: calendula, hollyhocks, columbines, Echinacea (cone flowers), marigolds, nasturtiums, and rudbeckias (black-eyed Susans). (This is not a complete list by any means. Check your seed packets for sowing instructions.)
  • Pot up dahlia tubers and canna bulbs to give them a head start.
  • Direct sow carrots, parsnips, endive, and radicchio the last week of March, weather permitting.


Article submitted by Leslie Cox
CVHS member and writer as the “Duchess of Dirt”