March Garden Things To Do In The South

This is a busy month in the garden with everyone full of ambition for spring planting chores. While there is still some chance of a late frost, many gardeners will be setting out tomatoes and bedding plants in the hopes of early results. This is the month, too, for harvesting many of the cool season vegetables.

Lawns – Sow cool-weather grass seed mixtures in the upper South. It’s too early, though, to sow seeds of summer grass or to plant sprigs and plugs except in the lower South.

Give all lawns a good feeding, using high-nitrogen fertilizers like 10-6-4 to promote heavy new growth. Lawns overplanted with rye-grass need special attention now that rye is growing rapidly. Cut close and often so sunshine can penetrate to permanent grasses just beginning to green up. To avoid discolored lawns, always cut with a sharp mower. Dull blades cause grass tips to brown.

Pruning – March 1 is the time most gardeners set for pruning hybrid teas and perpetuals in the middle South. March 10 or 15 is better for the mountain regions and the upper part of the upper South.

Prune spring-flowering deciduous shrubs after blooming, cutting out non-productive old wood. It’s your last chance to prune nandinas, crape myrtle and altheas before much new growth starts. They can stand severe cutting back, if tall and lanky. Ligustrum and pittosporum can also take heavy pruning if necessary.

Give roses a good spring feeding to promote heavy flower production. And, since roses are showing new growth now, start your regular spraying or dusting schedule to control insects and diseases. Captan, karathane and malathion are among the best pest controls.

Fertilize your pecan trees. March is one of the best months for this. Use a complete fertilizer.

For tropical effects on the Gulf Coast and in the lower South, set out acalypha, croton, papaya, castor bean, duranta, cuphea, hibiscus, plumbago and tender ferns.

Azaleas are in full bloom in the middle and lower South. Only early sorts are showing color further north. It is a good time to buy plants now, for they transplant well even in full bloom. Spray for petal blight where this disease is prevalent.

This is a good time to prune azaleas, if necessary. In hillside plantings layer some of the lower branches to create a solid mass planting.

Spray camellias for aphids and tea scale before hot weather sets in. Use miscible oil sprays for this purpose.

Vegetables – In cold frames and hotbeds start tomato, pepper, eggplant, cauliflower and onion for transplanting to the garden. Outdoors in the upper and middle South, plant beet, cabbage, carrot, lettuce, onion sets, radish, spinach, turnip, mustard, parsley, English peas (last planting), and rutabaga.

Among roots and tubers set out Irish potato, asparagus, horseradish, and artichoke.

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