March at The Reigate Garden Centre Plant Department

Plant of the Month

Vinca-The Periwinkle
Vinca minor is a very popular ground cover plant and is a smaller version of its vigorous relative the greater periwinkle.
Vinca minor's leaves, flowers and growth rate are about two thirds those of Vinca major. This makes Vinca minor more suitable for a variety of uses.It can be planted in smaller beds and borders, and is very useful in winter baskets and containers. It is also good at colonising poor, dry and slightly shady conditions.
 
It's creeping and arching stems soon make an attractive carpet of bright green foliage. The sky-blue flowers appear in spring and are very attractive set against the green leaves. Vinca minor can also be used as under planting for shrubs, roses and any odd corner of the garden that requires some greenery to brighten it up.
 
Vinca will grow in most soil types but like most other plants, requires good drainage at all times. It can even be grown as a substitute for grass under trees. Spring flowering bulbs like snowdrops and crocus can also be under-planted as companion plants to good effect.

In Your Garden

Spring is in the air. A lot of bulbs are now flowering profusely, the grass is beginning to grow and kingcups, primulas and forsythia are showing their cheerful colours. Potted flowering bulbs bring immediate colour to your spring garden. 
 
New garden project
Easter is a good time for the whole family to get stuck into the garden and enjoy spring together. So now’s the time to start a new garden project – perhaps plant a bog garden in a soggy area that is in need of work, or sow summer flowers or create a new border or focal point with trees and shrubs.
 
Pruning, separating and fertilising
March is a good month for pruning. You can prune your shrub roses and climbing roses now, this is also the right time to prune heathers and mahonias. And of course March is a very good time for planting and replanting. Pick out which perennials flowered less last season – these can be divided and separated to give them a new lease of life. Nutrients are very important for a healthy garden, so definitely don’t forget to fertilise.
 
Starting early
Nature is awakening, and so are slugs and snails. Start fighting them before they can attack your plants. Use environmentally friendly slug pellets to avoid harm to other animals or humans.

Prune now

Prune shrub roses 
Prune shrub roses down to between ten and fifteen centimetres above the ground, and dispose of the pruned branches. 
Prune them short, since all sorts of disease spores can survive on the branches only retain strong shoots,Only prune when there is no frost. Prune just above outward-pointing buds (eyes).
 
Pruning climbing roses
If it is already a sizeable bush, you should prune off a few of the oldest branches. 
Cut the others back if they have got too long, this encourages the formation of fresh shoots. 
Leave the rest. Branches which are bent horizontally to some extent give the most flowering shoots, which is why the fan shape is particularly popular when fixing climbing roses.
 
Prune heathers
Cut off what grew last season. Prune the bushes a little spherical, and never back to the bare wood, since the plants will find it difficult to grow from that.
 
Mow the lawn
Set the lawnmower a bit higher than normal and do not mow if the weather is wet. Remove the cuttings. They can go on the compost heap or in thin layers as mulch between the border plants.

Plant now

Plant (replant) deciduous trees and shrubs
A lot of trees and shrubs are about to start to put out shoots. This will mean that they will grow particularly well and powerfully after planting. Plants grown in containers (pots) can be planted all year round.
 
Plant grapes
This can be done with (pot-grown) grapes all year round, but if you plant now, a grape will take particularly easily. This also applies to blackberries and related varieties such as the loganberry.
 
Plant roses
To plant roses dig a sizeable hole and enrich the soil going into it with plenty of nutrients. Roses are hungry plants. 
 
Planting time from the end of March
Shrubs and perennials which flower in the summer and beyond should ideally be planted now.
 
Plant a hedge
March is an excellent time to plant hedges. You should work with a five plants per linear metre, (with a twenty centimetre gap between each plant). If you are creating a double hedge where the plants are staggered in two rows, you can plant with a gap of thirty centimetres and you will need six to eight plants per linear metre. For low hedges like Buxus you should plant so that the plants just touch. You will then need eight to ten plants per linear metre. Always make sizeable holes and enrich the soil in the planting holes.
 
Plant biennials
Plant varieties such as daisies (Bellis), wallflowers, pansies, forget-me-nots, Silene. These varieties produce a leaf rosette in the first year and flower in the second year. They are a perfect supplement to annuals and perennials.
 
Divide perennials 
Perennials age over time - they grow less vigorously at the centre and they flower less. 
You can fix this for many varieties by dividing or separating the plants every three to four years. 
Enrich the soil in the new location and plant out the young edge parts you have separated off.

Maintenance

Remove winter protection
Remove protective layers of organic material from perennials. Ensure that you do not damage any young shoots (tips). 
Take care not to walk on areas where there are bulbs in the soil. Remove plastic bags or other winter protection from the crown of standard roses.
 
Weed vigorously again
Weeds grow tirelessly. Remove as many as possible before the seeds can form. This happens more quickly than you think. Eradicate stubborn weeds thoroughly.
 
Combat slugs
Slugs are mainly nocturnal. You can catch them by hand during their night-time feeding expeditions. There are also environmentally-friendly slug pellets which are not hazardous to other animals (or humans). The other advantage of these is that the dying slugs retreat underground, so you do not need to clear up dead slugs.
 
Water plants in acid soil
In March plants which like acid soil have a particular need for water. So give varieties such as Pieris, Rhododendron and bilberries extra water this month. 
 
Restore the lawn
A lawn restoring kit is ideal for giving new, dark green life to your lawn. You can do it in a few quick steps, without digging and with aeration. March is an excellent time to sow a new lawn.