Now that the spring equinox of equal day and night has passed, ventilation, especially on sunny days, is critical for greenhouses and conservatories.
Ventilation is important in preventing leaf overheating and plant stress, as it can encourage pests, such as aphids, to attack. Be sure to open vents, doors and windows if temperatures rise above 13C/55F, ensuring they are closed before 4pm to retain some heat before sunset. The aim is to ensure a balanced daytime temperature of around 15 to 18C (59 to 64F) without draughts or chilling.
Outside, it’s important to start hoeing beds to keep emergent weeds under control. Make sure you start the battle early and show them who is boss! If you have any ornamental grasses or herbaceous material that was left for interest over the winter, now is your last chance to remove it before the new growth starts. March is the ideal time to put compost and fertiliser on beds in readiness for the soil warming up and plants springing into growth as spring heats up.
Herbaceous plants that have been undisturbed in the ground for over three years will be losing their vigour, so now is the time to split the congested clumps and give some plants away to friends and family: always a pleasure to receive!
It should be warm enough to sow grass seed towards the end of the month so there’s no excuse not to finish the repair of any grass areas. Remember the old saying – a third to grow, a third for the birds and a third to rot away. If you’re planning an instant lawn this season, now is the ideal time to lay turf – just don’t attempt it if the ground is too wet.
Another thing to bear in mind is to not try and sow seeds too early as seedlings will become too tall and weak if they have to stay inside for too long. If you have a glasshouse where temperatures and airflow can be controlled, you could start seed sowing and get an early start, especially for salads, sweet peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Prune your roses once the worst of the cold weather is over, remove dead, diseased or dying stems and open up the centre of bushes – this will help to keep fungi at bay. Feed the plants once pruned with a balanced fertiliser: well-grown plants are far more disease and pest-resistant than poorly growing specimens.
Feeling motivated? Why not visit Birmingham Botanical Gardens for more inspiration. Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham. B15 3TR