The people's voice of reason

Potpourri for March

When we have come full swing into March, I always say that spring has sprung. Time to get serious about gardening such as making a plan if you have not done so, searching for plants at the various garden centers and nurseries, and getting seed out for sowing. Now is also a great time to plant lettuce, collard, mustard and turnip greens. Herbs are also a great choice now, such as parsley, coriander, thyme, marjoram, oregano, dill and basil. If you have an area of the bed that consistently gets too much water, try watercress. They love wet feet.

If you prefer to start with seed, go ahead and sow these this month. One thing I do after I sow seed is to mark the area with spray paint so I do not accidentally overplant the area with new found flowers. Also since this a cooler time of year, you can fertilize with a commercial grade fertilizer such as 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 rather than the more expensive Osmocote or other time release fertilizers. Just spread the commercial fertilizer on top of the soil, work in with a rake, then plant. Many times in the heat of the summer, throwing this commercial grade fertilizer in the garden with young plants, tends to burn the leaves and can even kill the plants. Most of the time, woody stemmed flowers, such as hibiscus, allamanda, plumbago, roses are not as sensitive.

It may not be too late to put out aluminum sulfate around mop head hydrangeas to turn them blue rather than pink, when they bloom later. Remember, whether one is fertilizing or using aluminum sulfate on hydrangeas, come out about 2-3 feet from the plant. Also, do not cut back dead stalks on the common hydrangeas as they bloom on dead wood. But the Endless Summer varieties will bloom on last years' wood and new growth this year. There are newer varieties which have stronger stems to hold up their very large bloom heads. One, which is an improvement on the Anabelle series which have white blooms, is the Incrediball. The main feature of this newer arborescens variety sports head sized white blooms which keep blooming all summer. These varieties prefer the shade and more acid to acid neutral soil. However, the peegee or paniculata variety tolerates alkaline soils and tolerates more sun exposure. One example would be Limelight and this one is commonly found in the River Region area stores.


A wild flower found in meadows and on the side of highways, makes a great addition to any perennial garden. Easy to grow from seed, it produces profuse yellow to white to mauve blooms. It grows from fibrous-rooted crowns, forming large clumps. This large genus comes from the Aster family with daisy like blooms. The common name is tickseed, and blooms late spring through summer. It thrives in full sun and has a wide range of heights, from a foot tall to 6 feet tall. Coreopsis is drought tolerant when established but overly moist soils cause them to flop. Although these can be grown from seed, propagation is easy through stem cuttings in early summer. The cuttings root easily and can be planted in the same season. They make great cut flowers, are excellent border plants and make good companions to Echinacea or coneflower, phlox, Liatris, Gaillardia or blanket flowers.



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