We have been waiting patiently (or, impatiently) for the weather to warm and for the new year in the garden to properly begin. There may still be the risk of a late frost lurking, but March is the month when garden activity really starts hotting up!
Read our guide to March gardening jobs to find out what to do now, what to plant this month and helpful gardening tips from our Hillier experts to keep your garden at its best.
What to Enjoy Now
Gardening is as much about appreciating the beautiful now as planning and planting for the future. Enjoy these plants in your garden and home this month:
- Primroses – a brilliant bedding plant to bring colour to the garden all the way through to May
- Spring-flowering shrubs: camellia varieties, chaenomeles, daphne, forsythia, kerria, magnolias, photinia, Pieris japonica, ribes (ornamental currants), vinca
- Prunus varieties (e.g. Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis Rosea’, Prunus ‘Kojo-no-mai’)
- Perennials: narcissi (daffodils), crocus, muscari, Iris reticulata, pulsatilla, bergenia
Fantastic Foliage and Architectural Stems
- Ornamental grasses, including Festuca ‘Intense Blue’, Ophiopogon ‘Nigrescens’, Imperata ‘Red Baron’, Carex ‘Ice Dance’, Carex ‘Evergold’
- Key shrubs and trees for foliage: euonymus, leucothoe
- Conifers, such as juniper, spruce and fir varieties
What to Plant Now
March is as much about preparation as planting in the flower and vegetable garden. There are a number of things you can plant this month though, as long as the soil is workable.
What to Plant for Instant Impact
- Spring-flowering shrubs, such as forsythia, dwarf Syringa, Spiraea arguta and Ribes sanguineum
- Helleborus x hybridus. These come in a huge range of colours as well as single or double flowers
What to Plant for Future Interest
- Small herbaceous plants. These can now be planted straight into the garden if it is mild
Hillier Tip: Both 9cm and 1litre herbaceous plants are a cost-effective way to add summer colour to your garden
- Alpines – 9cm or 1-litre plants allow for a cost-effective garden update
- Roses, so they can establish in time for summer flowering
Grow Your Own
Spring is here and the garden is bursting into life! It’s time to get outside and make the most of the coming year. Read more about growing this month in our March guide to Grow Your Own.
- February and March are the months to start ‘chitting’ your potatoes, i.e. letting them sprout so they grow faster and stronger. Read our guide to growing your own potatoes to find out how
- Sow winter brassicas in seed trays, tomato, cucumber and aubergine seeds in heated propagators
- Start your regular sowing of cut-and-come-again salads, to keep you fully stocked with greens for months to come
- Sow fragrant perennial herbs such as lemon-balm, rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano.
- Sow courgettes, runner beans and French beans in root trainers or small pots ready to plant out in April / May
- Radish seeds can be sown under cloches now
- Sow broad beans and kale seeds directly into the ground ready for a delicious summer crop
- Plant out asparagus crowns out now
- If the weather is mild, you can sow carrots, beetroot, chard and peas outside
- This is the last month to plant bare-root fruit trees
- Cabbage, carrots, kale, leeks, purple sprouting broccoli,
Hillier tip: See the planting and harvesting times for many of our most loved vegetable and salad plants in our Seed Sowing Calendar.
What to Do in the Garden
As the weather warms (though with the ever-present risk of a late frost), there are more and more enjoyable jobs to do in the garden in March.
Hillier Tip: The creation of a vibrant, flowering garden is all in the preparation. Mulching properly now will stop weeds coming through and continue to feed and maintain moisture in the soil during dry spells, meaning you can sit back and enjoy it in the summer.
Plants to Prune
- Deadhead bedding plants, such as primroses to encourage prolonged flowering
- If you haven’t already, prune winter-flowering shrubs and climbers that have finished flowering before spring buds burst into life – i.e. Lonicera, Ribes. Lightly prune Hammamelis, Holly and Bay to remove dead or dying stems
- Cut down autumn-fruiting raspberries to the ground, if you haven’t done yet. New growth will likely appear in April
- Prune late-flowering Clematis back hard to a couple of buds
- Cut back deciduous ornamental grasses in late March, such as Miscanthus, cutting above any fresh green growth. Pull out dead growth from evergreen grasses (but do not cut back)
- Cut back Buddleia down to the bottom couple of buds, otherwise the flowers will get progressively higher each year and the plant will be woody and poorly shaped
- Cut back roses in February / March before buds begin to burst. This is also a good month to give roses a feed with special rose feed
- Trim winter-flowering heathers as flowers fade
- Deadhead hydrangeas now before the arrival of any new growth if you left the ornamental flowerheads on over winter
- Remove dead leaves from around the bases of alpines to avoid rot
- Cut back cornus hard to stimulate new growth, which will be brightly coloured come autumn
Plants to Move
- Lift and divide snowdrops that have finished flowering. Dig up a clump, complete with soil and root system
Plants to Protect
- If you planted any new trees this winter, check any stakes and ties carefully and keep them well watered
Lawncare & Gardencare
- This is the month to prepare your beds and borders by improving the soil. As soon as the soil is workable, dig in a layer of good multi-purpose compost or well-rotted manure. You may also want to add a good all-purpose fertiliser
- In the vegetable garden, help the soil warm up and dry out by covering with cloches
- Now is a great time to build or buy a compost bin before the growing season properly kicks off
- This month you can finally focus some attention on your lawn. Recut edges if needed and give it the first mow if there is a good dry spell
- If you are planning to lay turf, mid-March is the ideal time. Prepare the ground a couple of weeks before laying turf, using a product like Grow More Granular Fertiliser that has a balance of the major nutrients needed, allowing it time to work into the soil.
Hillier tip: For your first cut of the lawn, set the blades higher than usual. You want to be gentle to protect the roots of the grass, which will be soft and delicate after winter. Read more in our guide to a perfect lawn
Birds and Wildlife
Spring is the key breeding season for birds, which means a change in their care and food needs. Migratory birds will be arriving back and will need feeds that are high in protein and essential oils to refuel their bodies after the long flight.
- Give high-protein bird food, like sunflower seeds
- Put up a nest box in early spring if you haven’t done so already
- Ensure clean water is available and doesn’t freeze in event of late frosts
Monthly Tool Checklist
Some of the essential garden tools and products we recommend to have ready in your shed.
For growing potatoes:
- Seed trays for chitting, compost, potato planter or large pots (if not planting in the ground)
For sowing indoors:
- Seed packets, Seed trays / pots (fibre seed pots are available as an alternative to plastic), Seed sowing compost (e.g. John Innes), Board / levelling tool, Watering can with fine attachment, Polythene / thin layer of glass to cover seed trays, Mini greenhouse / propagator, Dibber, Follow-on compost (e.g. John Innes No.1), Root trainers, plant labels
For sowing outdoors:
- Cloche, trowel, watering can
- Pruning shears / secateurs
- Lawn mower, edging shears, lawn moss and weedkiller, rake, lawn feed (e.g. Aftercut All-in-one or Viano MO Bacter, which is endorsed by the RHS)