The month of March marks the end of the planting season for deciduous and bare-rooted trees and shrubs. Still, there are trees that can be planted. They include container-grown trees, which can be planted all year around; gray or silver-leaved shrubs like rtemisia, lavender, rosemary, santolina, and climbers.
When planting climbers, landscaping experts suggest that you prepare the soil and repair structures that will be used as supports before planting. Use a trellis for plants that tend to grow into a twine or use wires for a climber with tendrils that cling naturally. Bushy climbers including a rose can be tied to a trellis or a fence. A lightweight mesh that is part of a wig-wham of canes will work out well for annual climbers.
Make certain that you don’t plant near drains or soak-aways because climbers have deep roots, which can become a problem later. When planting climbers against a wall, position the hole for the plant far enough away from the wall so roots can seek moisture.
Follow these six steps when planting bare-rooted trees.
1. Soak the roots and trim off those that are broken or too long.
2. Place the root union of the tree 2-inches (5-centimeter) above the soil level.
3. Hammer a stake into the ground in an angle that faces the prevailing wind.
4. Shake the soil out of the roots to prevent air pockets and then cover them with soil.
5. Tie the tree to the stake.
6. Stamp down the soil around the base of the tree to firm it and spread a mulch.
Follow these nine steps when planting container-grown trees and trees that are sold with the root-balled in a sack.
1. Dig the hole in which you intend to plant a container tree or root-balled tree slightly deeper and twice as wide as normal.
2. Use a fork to disturb the soil at the bottom of the hole and include well-rotted manure or garden compost into the soil.
3. Hammer a stake into the ground at an angle facing the prevailing wind.
4. Totally soak the roots in water, and then carefully remove the container or sack.
5. If the tree doesn’t come out of the container easily, then cut the container on both sides and slide the tree out.
6. Gently tease out roots wrapped around the inside of the container without disturbing the roots or root-ball.
7. Place the tree in the hole and firmly cover the root with topsoil or a mixture of topsoil and compost.
8. Tie the tree to the stake.
9. Stamp down the soil around the base of the tree to make sure it is firm and then apply mulch.
Water the tree well and pull weeds from around it for the first growing season.
March is a good time to prune shrubs that will flower during the coming season’s growth. This includes shrubs that flower after about mid-summer like buddleia, late flowing ceanothus, clematis, hardy fuchsias, hebes and hydrangeas.
All roses except ramblers should be pruned in March. Simply remove any old and diseased branches. Hybrid tea roses should be cut back to within 6-12-inches (15-30-centimeters) of the ground to allow strong new flower-bearing shoots to form. Also remove damaged, crossing and weak branches. Do the same with floribunda roses except prune back less dramatically, say, 1-2-feet (30-60-centimeters). Retain the main branches of climbing roses and tie them to supports. Cut back any side shoots to less than 6-inches (16-centimeters) long.
March is also a good time to prune winter flowering shrubs so that they have enough time to grow and produce shoots for next winter. These shrubs would include winter jasmine, witch-hazel, winter-flowering viburnums, water-sweet (a.k.a. Chimonanthus) and flowering heath (a.k.a. Erica and herbacea.
When pruning winter jasmine, tie all the long shoots together that you wish to retain and cut back 1-2-inches (2-5-centimeters) all the branches that have flowered.
Shrubs grown for their winter colored stems including dogwoods, Cornus, alba, Sibirica, C. alba, Elegantissima, C. stolonifera Flviramea; and Salix alba Chermesin, white-stemmed bramble (Rubus cockburninus), and Cotinus coggygria should be cut back to within 2-inches (5-centimeters) of the old wood.
Finally, roses and shrubs should be given a general fertilizer early in the month to encourage strong new growth and flowers.