ANNUAL PLANT SALE – March 14, 9-2, 892 Airport Rd, Rockport
BROWN BAG SERIES – March 17, 12-1
Here’s a list of March garden tasks for the Texas Coastal Bend area from the Aransas/San Patricio County Master Gardeners.
— It’s warm enough to move your tender container plants back outdoors.
— The time has finally come for pruning off cold-damaged branches on most trees and shrubs. Once a plant has started to bud out, you can tell which parts are dead and need to be removed. Some shrubs, such as pentas, are slower to grow back.
— Evergreens and summer-blooming trees and shrubs should be pruned by early this month. But remember—spring-flowering varieties should be allowed to finish blooming before you prune them.
— When pruning trees, don’t “top” them. When you cut the top off most trees, the new growth will be weak and spindly. This looks bad, and it weakens the trees.
— Don’t commit “crape murder.” That’s when you prune a crape myrtle down to a few bare trunks sticking out of the ground. Crape myrtles don’t really need to be trimmed, except for taking off dead or diseased wood. If you have limbs that are rubbing against each other, you can remove one of them down to its point of origin. Clip off spent blossoms to encourage lush continued flowering.
— It is too early to prune palms.
— It is too late to prune oaks. The insect that carries oak wilt is active now, and you don’t want to risk your trees getting this deadly infection. If an oak is injured or must be cut for unavoidable reasons, be sure to paint the wound immediately.
— In March, our local live oaks start their yearly transformation—the leaves turn brown and fall off, and the trees flower and bud out with new leaves. Sometimes old or stressed trees take a long time to put on their spring leaves, but be patient: it will happen.
— Spring brings the dreaded “wooly” worms to many live oaks. These are caterpillars of the white-marked tussock moth, and they have white bristles that can cause a rash when touched. Wooly worms and leaf roller caterpillars that drop from the trees are part of a live oak’s natural ecosystem, and they rarely cause lasting damage. Even if they defoliate a tree, there are back-up buds that will leaf out afterwards. You can spray the trees with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) while the caterpillars are young, if necessary.
— In March, you can plant most vines, shrubs, annuals, and perennials.
— To keep your plants moist and to reduce weeds, spread 1-4 inches of mulch in your beds. It’s important to keep it a few inches away from stems and trunks.
— It’s not too late to plant most trees including citrus, but not palms yet.
— After mid-month, you can plant most types of tropical plants.
— As the weather warms up and the grass starts to grow, you can start mowing. Sharpen the blade and only take off about 1/3 of the grass height.
— Don’t fertilize your lawn until you have had to mow the grass at least twice—weeds and clover don’t count. This ensures that the grass is active enough to take up nutrients, instead of fertilizing the weeds. Use an organic or slow-release fertilizer, and avoid weed-and-feed products—they can kill your landscape plants and damage your trees.
— Keep lawn fertilizer away from palms. Instead, use a slow-release fertilizer that includes micro-nutrients with a 2:1:3 or 3:1:3 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Most palms in the Coastal Bend area are dangerously lacking in potassium.
— It’s time to set out your tomato, pepper, and eggplant transplants.
— This month you can plant bush and pole beans, arugula, butter beans, corn, cucumber, lettuce, radish, squash, turnip, and mustard greens from seed or transplants.
— It’s time to start herbs, such as oregano, parsley, rosemary, chives, sage, thyme, lemon grass, and lemon verbena.
— Start feeding your roses, hibiscus, and tropical plants once a month. Keep this up through September.
— Don’t mow or cut your wildflowers. They need to bloom completely and go to seed so you’ll have them back next year.
— Avoid overwatering bluebonnets—they are xeriscape plants and need practically no water.
Thanks to Master Gardeners Todd Cutting and Amanda Steves for contributing to this list.