Horticulture Tips for March

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
The near-recording setting warm spell last week has put our average gardening calendar in a bit of a tailspin. Many plants are coming on hard and fast-several; some even weeks earlier than normal. Right now, my gardening instincts are telling me not to try to protect plants like fruit trees that are showing unusually early signs of bloom. My argument is we will likely get at least a few more winter storms and offering protection from light freezes now can only lead to more severe damage later on. Of course, this advice is subject to changing dramatically in the next few weeks!

Having said all that, your guess is as good as mine as to whether or not we’re going to have much more cold weather. Just keep in mind, the AVERAGE last frost for us is still six weeks away at April 15th!
  • For landscape beds and garden plots, it is still easy to control winter/spring weeds with cultivation if done soon. Remember, what is a very small inconspicuous weed right now, can completely dominate the space one month from now. The same can be said for a herbicide application, the window for best control will be closing quickly.
  • For homeowners that use glyphosate to control weeds on their dormant bermudagrass, proceed with care. While bermudagrass may still appear dormant on first glance, we are already seeing signs of green up, especially on south facing slopes and up against buildings and sidewalks.
  • Preemergent herbicides must be applied before weeds germinate. Crabgrass is our indicator weed for this treatment. A reminder that this weed germinates about the same time that redbud trees or forsythia bushes begin to drop their blooms.
  • March is a good time to fertilize cool season grasses like Tall Fescue. Do NOT fertilize bermudagrass this month.
  • Begin planting cool season vegetable crops like radishes, beets and broccoli.
  • Wrap up cutting back ornamental grasses and liriope very soon. Most of these plants are already actively growing. Look closely before cutting back as you may want to leave a little more height on last year’s growth than normal.
  • Remove any remaining dead plant material from last year’s herbaceous ornamentals. If you don’t have a compost pile yet, now is the perfect time to start one.
  • And finally, NO, you should not plant your tomatoes yet!

For more information on this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at keith.reed@okstate.edu, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.

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