“March is an in between month, when wintry winds are high. But milder days remind us all, spring's coming by and by.” CanTeach, March.
“Winds of March, we welcome you, there is work for you to do. Work and play and blow all day. Blow the winter cold away.” CanTeach, Winds of March.
As we continue to experience conditions which offer a week of cold weather followed by a week of warm weather, know that these current temperature patterns will probably last throughout the month of March. March is supposed to be the month of winds to blow away winter and getting back into the yard for some spring cleaning and planting.
As your landscape activities require frequent visits to the local garden centers, always read the labels on plants, fertilizers and pesticides before you purchase. This strategy will help keep you better informed on these various gardening subjects and help you make wiser purchases. Also, some things to consider as you play in the dirt this spring include:
Knockout roses: If you haven’t already done so, it is safe to cut back your knock out roses to the designated height and shape you prefer. Following pruning, apply a knockout rose fertilizer at the rate designated on the label. These fertilizers will contain approximately 3% nitrogen, 4% phosphate, 3% potash, 9% calcium, 0.5% magnesium, 1% sulfur and perhaps colony forming units of bacteria, endomycorrhizae, ectomycorrhizae, and archaea.
Bedding plants: Make your selections from plants such as ageratum, allysum, bachelor’s button, begonias, calendula, celosia, cockscomb, coleus, coryopsis, cosmos, dahlias, dianthus, dusty millers, gazanias, geraniums, Gerber daisies, impatiens, larkspur, marigolds, nasturtium, periwinkles, petunias, phlox, portulaca, statice, snapdragons, strawflowers, sunflowers, verbena, vincas, zinnias, among others. Carefully read the label for planting directions, culture and exposure. Also, color and size will affect your choices.
Perennials: Select from a list including achillea, anthemis, butterfly weed, michaelmas daisies, blackberry lily, crinum, canna, cast iron plant, coneflower, Shasta daisies, oxeye daises, tickseed (Coreopsis), sweet william, luxuriant bleeding hearts, globe thistle, bishop’s hat, crane’s bill geranium, Christmas or linton rose, daylilies, coral bells, hostas, irises, red hot poker, lynchnis, New England aster, Virginia bluebells, obedient plant (Physostegia), phlox, platycodons, rudbeckias, black-eyes susan, liriope, Victoria salvia, sedum, goldenrods, Stokes aster, meadow rue, speedwell, among others.
Herbs: Select those you wish to grow from such plants as basil, dill, catnip, chamomile, chives, mints, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, sweet fennel, sweet marjoram, thyme, among others. Use of these plants in the landscape should be based upon available space, site conditions and personal preference.
Ground covers: These are perfect plants to introduce in areas especially where grass is difficult to establish and maintain. Be aware of the needs and rate of growth of your choices. Some ground covers should be used only in large areas due to their fast rate of growth. Examples include polygonum, ivy and Bishop’s weed which grow almost as fast as kudzu (major weed). These plants sleep the first year, creep the second year and leap the third and each following year.
Ground covers for shade include Arum italicum (white flowers, deciduous), begonia evansiana (pink flowers, deciduous), barrenwort (red or yellow flowers, semi-evergreen), foam flower (white flowers, evergreen), galax (evergreen foliage), lily of the valley (white flowers, deciduous), pachysandra (white flowers, evergreen), periwinkle (blue or white flowers, evergreen), and wild ginger (deciduous).
Ground covers for the sun include junipers (evergreen) and sedum (evergreen). For the sun or part shade, ajuga (blue flowers, evergreen), true geranium (blue, lavender or white flowers, deciduous), lamium (variegated foliage, evergreen), liriope (purple or white flowers, evergreen), mondograss (blue berries, evergreen), wintercreeper (evergreen), among others.
Vines: Examples of twining vines include wisteria, clematis, and honeysuckle. Those with tendril vines include muscadine grapes, Virginia creeper, and Boston ivy. Boston ivy also produces disks at the end of its tendrils which help it to cling to the support. Examples of holdfasts vines include climbing hydrangea and English ivy.
Vines with flower color include Banksia rose (yellow), Carolina jessamine (yellow), Cherokee rose (white), Clematis armandi (white), Confederate jasmine (white), and crossvine (red or yellow). Also, Euonymus (white), creeping fig (white), climbing hydrangea (white), muscadine grapes (edible fruit), English ivy (evergreen), passion flower (lavender and white), sliver lace vine (white), scuppernong grapes (edible fruit), Virginia creeper (red foliage), trumpet creeper (red), wisteria (purple or white), among others.
Confederate jasmine and creeping fig need winter protection. Also, those native to the southeast include Carolina jessamine, Cherokee rose, crossvine, muscadine grapes, passion flower, scuppernong grapes, Virginia creeper and trumpet creeper. If you are wanting only native plant selections, then do not use exotic plants (those introduced from other areas) or naturalized plants (once exotic and have become very tolerant of local conditions).
Wildflowers: Wildflowers for the sun or shade include flame azalea, wild columbine, violet dogtooth, hepatica, great lobelia, and wild blue phlox. Wildflowers for the sun include Aaron’s rod, birdfoot violet, bluets, butterfly weed, evening primrose, fire pink, southern harebell, pitcher plant, Queen Anne’s lace, shooting star, smartweed, turkscap lily, stiff verbena, yellow-eyed grass, among others.
Wildflowers for the shade include trailing arbutus, white baneberry, beardtongue, bugbane, Cardinal flower, fairybells, fairy wand, foamflower, galax, false goatsbeard, crested dwarf iris, lady’s slipper, Oconee bells, yellow fringed orchid, snowy orchid, fringed phacelia, spiderwort, Solomon’s seal, toadshade, Greek valerian, green wake-robin, wild ginger, wintergreen, among others.
Several wildflower seed mixes are available for the southeast (with some up to 26 species included), as well as a native wildflower seed mixes (17 species including scarlet sage, blazing star, spiderwart, among others), a dry area wildflower mix with 25 different species, an all annual wildflower seed mix, a deer-resistant wildflower mix, a butterfly-hummingbird wildflower seed mix, and many others. One common mix for Georgia includes white yarrow, cornflower, partridge pea, lanceleaf coreopsis, plains coreopsis, larkspur, California poppy, annual gaillardia, baby blue eyes, corn poppy, blackeyed susan, blue salvia, and crimson clover.
Always think native and sustainable plants in the landscape and give them higher selection priority than exotic and naturalized plants. And, remember that one gardener’s weed is another gardener’s flower. May each of your activities be filled with personal enjoyment and lasting curb appeal as the “play in the dirt” season begins. Happy spring gardening!
“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:25.