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Gardening suggestions for March

Tom Terry
Master Gardener
Helebore plant, also known as Lenten Rose, is in bloom.

We are beginning our series of gardening articles for the growing season again.  Linda Smith, Becky Carlberg, and Lisa Hair will join me with an article from one of us each week.

First, let me tell you about our Helebore, pictured above.  They are also called Lenten Rose.  I have had two plants for many years planted under a native pecan tree on the east side of our home.  In December I pruned them back to about two inches and watered them with liquid fertilizer.  By the end of January they had grown to about eighteen inches high and in early February they were covered with blooms.  One of the reasons for cutting them back is to allow the new blooms to not be covered by old foliage.  If you didn’t cut yours back and many of your blooms are covered by old growth, it is OK to now remove the old branches that are obscuring your new blooms.  We enjoy cutting three blooms and floating them in a shallow dish on our breakfast table.  These pink blooms will gradually turn a cream color and by June they will need to be removed, but the foliage is still attractive.

If you have Salvia Greggii, Autumn Sage in your garden it may look kind of scraggly at this time.  I found a website by doing a Google search on “How to prune Autumn Sage” that you can visit to receive several suggestions for getting it in shape for the season.

And as long as you are cutting shrubs back, if you have Vitex, also called Chaste tree, and it needs pruning, according the Dr. Kim, you can cut it back to the ground in the next few weeks and it will grow vigorously when the weather gets warmer.  An application of fertilizer is recommended.  Of course you can do lighter pruning if it is of a size that you prefer.  It will continue to grow larger over time.

Repeating my annual admonition:  it is time to cut back the old growth on Liriope also known as Monkey Grass.  If you do it soon, you won’t run the risk of blunting the new growth that will begin as the weather begins to get warmer.  If practical, you can do this with your lawn mower, weed eater, or pruning shears.  It won’t be long before the new growth appears.

Now is also a good time to prune your roses, boxwoods, and other shrubs to prepare them for new growth.  Don’t prune your spring flowering shrubs until after their spring blooms have completed their bloom.  Also avoid pruning azaleas that bloom on old growth until they have bloomed.

Daylight savings time begins on March 8th.  This will give you an extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day. Of course that means the early mornings are going to be darker.