March Gardening Activities - Region 3

Gardening Tips for March

Northeast, Midwest and Central Plains Gardens

Learn2Grow Region 3 Map

States in the region:

Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island
Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois,
Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa
South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana

Key Issues for March

  • Plant garden peas in honor of St. Patrick’s Day (or at least before April Fool’s Day). This gratifying cool-season vegetable is easy to grow, fun for kids to harvest and healthy to eat.
  • When the ground thaws (and the weather is cooperating), prepare garden beds for spring planting. A simple at-home soil test kit will help determine what (if any) nutrients should be added for optimum plant growth. Amending your garden soil by mixing compost, manure or other organic amendments into your planting beds (provided the ground is workable) helps improve soil drainage and air space as well.
  • Survey your trees and shrubs for any winter damage from snow and ice. Prune and remove any damaged or broken limbs.
  • Know when to prune, as well as when not to do it. Hold off on pruning your spring-flowering shrubs until after they’ve finished blooming. It is okay, however, to prune shrubs that bloom later in summer or fall, like beautyberry, butterflybush and rose of Sharon.
  • Give those foundation plantings blocking your windows and entryways a crew cut. Taxus (yew), junipers, Ilex (holly) and other shrubs can easily outgrow their space and become troublesome. March is the time to do any needed rejuvenation pruning.
  • Prune dormant fruit trees to remove any winter damage and suckers.
  • Walk around your tired winter landscape and note where you could use a little color for next year. Then consider planting showy witchhazel this growing season. When used as a main focal plant in foundation beds and mixed borders, this late winter bloomer dazzles in the weather-weary garden. If you’re looking for early spring blooms for next March, consider planting winter honeysuckle this year, an old-fashioned favorite shrub with very fragrant flowers.
  • Care for ornamental grasses. Now is the time to cut them back. Bundle and tie the plants before cutting to make removal easier (and neater). If grass clumps have become too large, they can be dug up and divided into smaller, more manageable clumps for replanting or sharing.
  • Add some early spring flower power to your garden beds, borders or planters with violas and pansies, snapdragons and primroses. A visit to your local garden center should provide plenty of choices.
  • If the soil is workable (and weather permitting), now’s the time for planting bare-root plants. This includes trees (both ornamental and fruit), shrubs and roses.
  • Start seed of cool-season vegetables indoors, or sow seed directly outside once the soil temperature is consistently at or above 40 degrees F. Broccoli, cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard and lettuce are great crops to try.
  • Fertilize houseplants. Read and follow all label directions for proper rate of application and frequency – and make sure you’re using the right type of fertilizer for your particular indoor plant!
  • Repot container plants that may need a larger planter.
  • Consider some tropical plants for your garden and landscape this year. Be on the lookout for some luscious and bold beauties at nurseries and garden centers soon.
  • Take inventory of the fertilizer/plant food you have on hand. Before buying any new products, be sure you understand which type of fertilizer you truly need for your specific plants and garden.
  • Keep an eye out for viburnum beetle on your viburnums. This pest is best treated in its larval stage. Check with your local Cooperative Extension office for recommended controls in your area. Extension offices can also help identify pests if you’re not sure what’s attacking your plants.
  • Fertilize spring-flowering bulbs when green growth begins to show. Use a specialty bulb food or bonemeal to ensure healthy bulbs and flowers for future years.