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March Gardening Calendar Includes Seminar On Butterfly Gardening
by William M. Johnson
Late summers seed pods mix in with springs burst of color display by redbuds. The arrival of spring is being signaled by the eye-catching display of color of redbud trees in local landscapes. The flowers are borne on bare branches before leaves start to appear. Photo credit: William M. Johnson
The arrival of March signals the beginning of the spring gardening season. The overabundance of dull, cloudy days during February is offset by the colorful displays of flowering trees and shrubs appearing in local landscapes. Here's a checklist of things to do for the month:
BUTTERFLY GARDENING PROGRAM - What do butterflies eat? Do butterflies need to drink? When do butterflies sleep? What is this caterpillar eating all my butterfly weed plant?
If you have asked these questions, then you can get the answers to these and other questions by attending an upcoming program on Saturday, March 5, entitled "A Garden for Butterflies." The presentation will be held from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the County Extension Office located at 5115 Highway 3 in Dickinson.
The presentation will be provided by Anna Wygrys, a longtime Certified Master Gardener and resident of Santa Fe. She coauthored The Butterflies of Galveston CountyWhat Every Gardener Needs to Know, a comprehensive, 36-page color publication that contains essential information about the 83 species of butterflies of Galveston County and the plants that nurture them.
Commonly occurring butterflies and their life cycles, and plants that attract butterflies and how to grow them will be discussed. Small backyard butterfly gardens are simple and fun to establish. To learn how to get started or to enhance your existing skill level, take advantage this informative program on "A Garden for Butterflies."
Pre-registration is required due to limited seating and reservations are made on a first-come, first serve basis. Visit or contact the County Extension Office (phone: 281-534-3413, ext. 6; e-mail: GALV3@WT.NET) to make your reservation.
PLANTING TREES AND SHRUBS - If you havent done so already, try to finish your shrub and tree planting during March so the plants can become well established before the approach of summer heat. Remember, don't buy and set out more plants than you have time to care forthey will suffer for it during the summer. Remember, too, proper planting and bed preparation are critical.
FERTILIZE LANDSCAPE TREES AND SHRUBS - March is an excellent time to fertilize established landscape trees and shrubs as they come out of their long winter dormancy period and put out new growth. It is not necessary to punch holes in the ground to fertilize trees or shrubs or to use fertilizer spikes. Surface application of a granular fertilizer is quite satisfactory.
VEGETABLES - Many types of vegetables can be established in the garden during March including transplants of tomatoes and peppers as well as direct-seeding of beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, southern peas and many other vegetables. Wait until the last week of March or early April to plant okra which does not tolerate cool spells.
DORMANT OIL - Be cautious about applying dormant oil at this time of year. For plants whose leaf and flower buds have not yet opened, it can still be used. If dormant oil is applied when buds are openeven slightlythe oil can cause damage. Dormant oil should never be applied to certain plantscheck label instructions.
HOUSEPLANTS - It's an excellent time to repot houseplants. Gently knock the plant out of the pot and inspect the root system. If the roots are crowded and matted on the outside of the root ball, put the plant in a larger pot. If the roots are not visible along the outside of the rootball, the plant probably has a poor root system and should be moved to a smaller pot. Move up or down only one pot size when transplanting.
ANNUALS - Set out copper plants, ageratum and ornamental amaranth and other annuals.
CAMELLIAS AND AZALEAS - As camellia and azalea plants finish blooming, fertilize them with an azalea-camellia fertilizer according to the manufacturers recommendations.
LAWN WEEDS - Weeds in a lawn usually indicate a poor lawn-management program. If weeds are a problem in the lawn, get a soil test done to determine the fertility level of the soil. While the individual levels of various soil nutrients (such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium as well as micronutrients) are important, the relative proportions of soil nutrients to each other are also critical. A healthy turf is your first line of defense against weeds.
WEED KILLERS - Remember that many landscape trees and shrubs are damaged or killed each year by the careless application of weed killers to lawns, including those found in mixes of weed killers and fertilizers (commonly called "weed & feed"). Always read and follow all label directions very carefully including application near the drip line of landscape trees and shrubs.
BERMUDA GRASS - Bermuda grass lawns can be seeded now to provide sufficient time to become established before the onset of summers hot weather conditions.
Use high quality seed and prepare the seed bed well before planting.
LAWN MOWERS - Inspect the lawn mower early and take care of needed repair work early to avoid the spring rush at the local lawn mower repair shop. Be sure the mower blade is sharp.
BEDDING PLANTS - Be selective in planting annuals and bedding plants. Set out no more than you can properly care for. For limited garden areas, try using containers on the patio or porch.
FIRE BLIGHT - If fire blight was a problem last spring on your pears, flowering quince, pyracantha or hawthorn, begin a spray program to control this bacterial disease. Use streptomycin sulfate, Bordeaux mixture or Kocide during bloom (follow the manufacturer's directions). Prune out all infected wood using sharp shears that have been disinfected between cuts with alcohol or a 10% solution of household bleach such as Clorox or Purex (one part bleach to 9 parts water).
Dr. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County
League City Area News Online.
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