Garden Planner – March
Since we’ve weathered Atlanta’s coldest winter temperatures in years, you may be wondering what springtime has in store for us. Brightly colored annuals and summer vegetables are on display at garden centers everywhere—but hold off on planting now, as Atlanta usually experiences a last frost in mid April.
• Apply a pre-emergent weed killer to control summer weeds in established fescue, zoysia, centipede and Bermuda lawns this month. Read and follow product labels carefully. Do not apply pre-emergent to newly seeded fescue lawns.
• Mow liriope now. Using a lawnmower, cut to about 2-3 inches—the new growth will be fresh and green.• Finish pruning and fertilizing evergreen and summer-flowering shrubs and trees before new growth begins. Roses and fruit trees also can be pruned now.
• Shrubs that flower in the spring, such as azaleas, quince, spirea and forsythia, should be pruned and fertilized after they flower.
• Winter- and spring-blooming bulbs should be fertilized after they bloom with a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Resist the urge to cut off the unsightly leaves; rather, let them yellow and die naturally. Try planting other cool-season flowers—such as snapdragons or dianthus—among the bulbs to hide the unsightly foliage.
• Now is the time to prune ornamental grass. To make cutting easier, hook a bungee cord or tie a rope around the entire plant, pull tight and slice across the top of the cord or rope. You’ll have an even cut, and the resulting grass will look neat and clean. Don’t fertilize most ornamental grasses; they’ll flop over.
• Many fruit trees require a careful spray program throughout the year. Ensure success by contacting your county extension service for detailed information about planting, fertilization, pest control and pruning.
• Boxwood and holly can be infested with leaf miners in late winter. Look for these flying, gnat-like insects, and control them with an insecticide that specifically treats them.
What to Plant
• Plant bare-root roses and shrubs now, while still dormant. Rehydrate them before planting by soaking their roots in a bucket of water for one hour.
• There’s still time to plant shrubs and trees, but pay close attention to the amount of rain that we get; if it doesn’t rain, water deeply once a week throughout the spring and summer.
• Dig, divide and transplant summer and fall blooming perennials now.
• Buy caladium bulbs now, but wait until late April or early May to plant—the soil needs to be at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or the bulbs might rot.
• Fescue seed and sod can be planted and installed in March, but wait until late spring/early summer to sod zoysia, Bermuda and centipede lawns.
• Cool-weather veggies (radishes, carrots, beets, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce) can be planted from seed in early March, as they can withstand cooler temperatures. Plant Irish potatoes early in the month, too.
Mary Kay Woodworth is executive director of the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association (MALTA). She previously ran Practically Gardening, a landscape consulting firm, and was Master Gardener Coordinator for the DeKalb County Cooperative Extension Service. Mary Kay is a frequent speaker at area schools, garden clubs, civic organizations and trade shows. [email protected]