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What to do in your garden - March 2020

After the seemingly never-ending wet winter, early spring is here and there’s a lot to be getting on with in the garden. Now’s the time to assess any winter damage, catch up with pruning roses and have a look at the condition of the lawn. Plants are coming into growth now that it’s getting warmer, and many trees and shrubs are in flower. Come and find inspiration at our garden centres and online.

Here are our top tips for March:

  • Planting shrubs: Careful preparation of the planting area is crucial for a plant to grow vigorously and healthily. Incorporate well-rotted organic matter (such as Country Natural manure) with your garden soil to get the plants off to a good start. Thoroughly water the pots before planting. When removing the plant from the pot, if the roots have become tangled and congested, tease out the rootball. Dig a hole the same depth as the container, but a little wider. Use Rootgrow™ to get your plants off to the best possible start. Planting with Rootgrow™ mycorrhizal fungi is the best planting practice, improving establishment, natural vigour and ultimately flowering and fruiting. Set the plant in the hole to the same depth as it would be in the pot, fill around with soil, firming with your fingers. Water the plant thoroughly and mulch around it with garden compost, chipped bark or leafmould, to conserve moisture in the soil. Avoid covering the stem of the plant as this can cause it to rot:
  • Potatoes: How to start them off: first and second early potatoes are sprouted (chitted) before planting. This helps reduce the time the tubers spend in the ground and may lead to increased yields. Put the seed potatoes in a single layer on a seed tray (or an egg box) with the end with the most ‘eyes’ or buds facing upwards. Keep in a cool, light, frost free place (an unheated room is ideal, but avoid direct sunlight). Dark shoots should grow to about 5cm (2in) within around 6 weeks. If conditions are too dark and warm – shoots will be pale and leggy. Choose four strong shoots and rub off all weaker shoots. The tubers are now ready to plant in the ground, as long as soil conditions are suitable – around March in sheltered areas; April in colder places.
  • Lawn care: preparation after waterlogging. After the wet winter your lawn may be in need of some tender loving care. Aerating the lawn will help relieve compaction and improve conditions for over seeding bare patches. March is the ideal month to lay turf once the ground has been prepared:
  • Divide and replant perennials: you may have plants growing in the wrong place, or those that have outgrown their space. Now is the time to lift, divide and replant perennials
  • Plant summer flowering bulbs now: we have a huge variety of summer-flowering bulbs, corms and tubers to choose from. Plant directly into pots or the ground, and mark where you’ve planted them to avoid damage when adding more plants to borders.
  • Feed shrubs, roses and container plants with a general-purpose fertiliser such as Vitax Q4, Growmore, Fish, Blood & Bone or chicken manure pellets to give plants the nutrients they need once weather warms up. Specialist fertilisers for many plants are available, such as ericaceous fertiliser for acid-loving plants like azalea, camellia and rhododendron)– see online or instore for details.
  • Herbs – now is the time to reassess your herb area and see what’s missing – parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme are all in stock (basil and other more tender herbs will be available once the weather warms up). Our herbs are locally grown in Hampshire and we have them in 9cm or 1 litre pot sizes.
  • Baby bedding plants - hanging basket and container plants for spectacular summer colour – our Perfect Choice 7cm pot range is now in store! Over a hundred varieties to choose from. Get a head start on growing on your summer bedding. Please note: these plants are tender (i.e not frost hardy) and will need to be grown in a greenhouse or bright frost-free place and gradually potted on to larger sized pots. Once the summer comes, you’ll be able to place outdoors for a dazzling display.
  • How to care for baby bedding plants: these are great value for money costing only a fraction of fully-grown plants with the added bonus of being past the tricky germination stage. The best place to grow them on is a greenhouse or conservatory (temperature 16-18°C is ideal). Alternatively, grow on a well-lit windowsill. Carefully water the pots (using a watering can fitted with a fine rose) and allow them to drain. Gently remove the plants from their pots and replant into 9cm pots using a multi-purpose compost. Water in and feed fortnightly with a liquid fertiliser (such as tomato fertiliser, Phostrogen or Miracle-Gro all-purpose plant food). Alternatively incorporate continuous release fertiliser granules into the compost (such as Miracle-Gro or Gro-Sure). Make sure the plants have good ventilation and are spaced apart and not over watered; to avoid diseases like grey mould, damping off and mildews. Harden off plants (acclimatise to outdoor conditions) once weather conditions are much warmer (around mid-May) by putting outdoors in a sheltered position during the day, but covering with fleece to prevent leaf damage. Take plants indoors at night. In the second week, remove the fleece during the day but bring in at night. Once night temperatures are above 7°C, plants can be left uncovered unless frosts are forecast.
  • Now is the time to prune your mophead hydrangeas, (those with large ball-like heads of flowers in summer) cutting last year’s faded flower head off, pruning back to the first pair of strong leaf buds. On older plants you can also completely cut a few stems back at the base of the shrub to encourage strong new growth this year.
  • Seed sowing: Now is the time to start growing plants from seed – from tomatoes to sweet peas, Longacres have a huge range of seeds for you to choose from, plus all you need for propagating plants; seed trays, pots, compost, tools
  • Plant a tree in 2020! Why not come and see our selection of locally grown trees – most of them are an ideal size to fit an average sized car, and most trees we sell are suitable for smaller gardens. From spring blossoming cherries to trees with autumn berries, there’ll be a tree to suit your garden.
  • Tree planting and aftercare advice:

    1. Before planting your tree, water the pot thoroughly and allow to drain
    2. If planting in a lawn, cut a circle of turf at least 60cm in diameter
    3. Dig a hole twice the size of the pot and fork over the base
    4. Sprinkle Rootgrow™ evenly into the planting hole
    5. Place tree on top of the granules ensuring the roots are in direct contact with Rootgrow™, then backfill with your topsoil (mixed with a bucketful of planting compost)
    6. Drive in a tree stake a little off centre of the hole
    7. Remove pot and tease out any matted roots
    8. Position tree against stake with top of root ball level with surrounding soil
    9. Replace remaining soil, firming in well
    10. Secure tree to stake with an adjustable strap
    11. Water thoroughly, then at least once a week during the first growing season
    12. Apply some general fertiliser around every spring