Marchʻs Southern California Gardening Tips

March is the perfect time to purchase new plants, fix up your lawn, and prepare for a summer feast of blooms. Click here for a video clip for the March Gardening Tip about flowering trees.

Buying Seedlings
When you buy seedlings, whether flower or vegetable, bigger is not always the best buy. Look for plants with healthy leaves and thick stems–no yellowing or shriveling. Check carefully for insects and insect eggs, usually hiding on the underside of the leaves.

Pop the plant out of the pot just enough to check and make sure it has roots, but not so many roots that they are matted and growing through the pot–an indication that the plant has been in the pot too long. Water them when you get home, before you plant them, and don’t forget to lightly fertilize when you plant them.

Flowers & Vegetables
Now is the time to mulch, fertilize and finish final pruning. Feed to encourage root growth, especially any new plants. This is still a good time for pansies, violas and primroses in most areas. Plant early vegetables like onions, rhubarb, asparagus, lettuce, kale, spinach and potatoes.

Start Caladiums in pots indoors, to be transferred to your patio deck once you are sure there will be no more sudden drops in temperature at night. You can also start seeds indoors now for summer annuals and vegetables like tomatoes and peppers.

Fertilize and your spring bulbs that should just now be blooming, use a slow release fertilizer. This is the time to get your summer blooming bulbs started. Weed over carefully where you have planted bulbs.

Divide and transplant any perennials that are becoming crowded. Finish off any pruning, before new growth starts, and cut back ornamental grasses.

Trees and Shrubs
This is a good time to fertilize trees and shrubs, and check for harmful insects and diseases. If you expect trouble, look for an organic solution first.

Roses
This is a good time to plant new rose bushes for summer blooms. Finish off any pruning–any later and you could be pruning off buds.

Lawns
When all chance of frost is over you can lay new turf. This is the time to re-seed, fertilize and prevent weeds. If you need to raise the pH of your soil, this is the time to lime.

House Plants
Have a good look at your house plants. Look for root-bound plants and repot. Check for insect problems and fertilize.