March Garden Sustainable Maintenance Practices for the Southeast

Posted by on March 3, 2017

MARCH Surprise awaits within the month of March. As the Earth transitions from winter to spring, March can be unstable. Like an adolescent, March has mood swings–wild winds followed by steely calm; widely fluctuating day and evening air temperatures, and flowers blooming in barren soil. March also brings birthday wishes for me.

My mind welcomed the arrival of spring, always anxious for her appearance, I was waiting, and I watched as she slowly approached with a lessening of rain. Now I wait for the sun to pass over the equator when spring will be upon us. Many of us, however, don’t wait for the vernal equinox to inspire our spring. There is something in the air that speeds up spring’s arrival.

March: March is a good time to drum to a different beat. As you plan your garden this year, think about doing something different. Flex your horticultural muscle and mix veggies with ornamentals, add a wildlife pond, grow herbs in containers, or add a vine to serve as a host plant for butterflies. Beauty can be had in the most unusual ways.

With the arrival of spring, we want to see beautiful gardens. Look for garden tours, events, and symposia. A tour is a great way to explore inspiring gardens, to learn about plants that do well in your region and to walk away with a thousand ideas while having an enjoyable time. Even if you take away only one idea, it will be worth it. My gauge for a successful tour of multiple gardens is when every garden was somebody in the group’s favorite.


Camellia, daffs, tulips,


Prune fig trees. Damaged wood needs to be removed, even if it means severely cutting the plant. For the best fruit production, figs need to be limbed and fertilized.  (See fertilizer needs below.)


Deadhead Camelias. Tidy camellia blooms. Spent camellia blooms, particularly with C. japonicas, are susceptible to petal blight. Remove fallen blooms — and those ready to fall — to prevent the spread of disease and insect problems. If you suspect your faded flowers have blight, don’t put them in the compost pile. Instead, place them in a plastic bag and dispose of it in the trash.

PLANT Cozy up to clematis. If you have always wanted to plant a clematis at your mailbox, now is a good time to plant one, but only if you have a sunny location that does not receive the hot afternoon sun. Clematis needs good soil and good drainage. Mulch around the plant to keeps the roots cool.

Snip some cuttings. If you are overwintering geraniums, begonias, coleus or impatiens, now is a good time to take cuttings. March cuttings will be ready to put in the ground by May.

by Gardening with Confidence®








I only every want to speak from experience; these are the fruits I grow in the Bee Better Teaching Garden.

In the Bee Better Teaching Garden the varieties we grow do not require spraying. As such, February is a time to focus on other projects.

WILDLIFE February is a great time to sit back and watch the birds. It’s like a winter wonderland in the Bee Better Teaching Garden. Cardinals, Chickadees, Brown Thrashers, bluebirds, bluejays, and so many  more!  Feed and feeders for our area birds chick here. Check out this post on wildlife cover!


Waterwise:  With a waterwise design, watering in the absence of rain is a breeze.  My garden at home, the Bee Better Teaching Garden was designed with waterwise principles. I have very little watering to do, and what I do have, is a choice. My boxwood collection is contained. But the watering is smart. These containers are near a watering source, so moving around a hose isn’t a big deal.



It takes 1/2 pound of 15-5-5 fertilizer (the numbers stand for the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) for every 3 feet of tree height. For example, a 6-foot-tall fig tree would need about a pound of fertilizer. Spread the fertilizer around the drip line of the plant and just beyond. After you water in the fertilizer, mulch the area around the tree.

Pest control:

When you are finished cutting plants back and replacing the mulch, it is recommended to treat rosebushes with a lime-sulfur spray to combat overwintering insects and disease problems.

Treat for pests. Leaf miners will make their appearance this month. They appear as a swarms of small flying insects hovering around hollies and other evergreen shrubs and trees, then they lay eggs on the leaves. When the larvae hatch, they bore or “mine” into the leaf to form the tunnels. To lessen the problem, you can spray infested plants with a dormant oil to smother eggs. My absolute nemesis is the vole; it drives me (and others) mad. Voles become active again in March. To help lessen their destruction, keep mulch away from the trunks of shrubs and trees. If you see in what looks like a mouse hole in your flower bed, especially where you grow lilies and other bulbs, it’s likely a vole hole. Stop the madness. Try this: Bait a mousetrap with apple and peanut butter, and set it next to the hole.


Blueberries can be fertilized lightly, but too much fertilizer may reduce the fruit crop. The same fertilizer for azaleas can be used on blueberries. Be sure there is clean, fresh mulch around fruit trees and bushes. Keep the mulch away from the trunks to prevent insect, vole and mouse damage. Mulch keep weeks under control, conserves moisture, moderates soil temperature and may protect ripe fruit that falls to the ground.

by Gardening with Confidence®


Helen Yoest



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