Southern Gardening - Potpourri for March
March 1, 2023 | View PDF
March is the month when serious gardening tasks must take place to make life easier later on. The first task would be weeding. Unless you have mulched during the winter months, there would be pesky winter annual and perennial weeds that need to be extracted. Winter weeds have shallow root systems which support large clumps of plant material, so it is rewarding to view the huge pile of weeds which resulted from very little effort. For one thing we do not want these to grow and go to seed, creating next year's headaches. So weeding the beds or pots is a good starting point. If you have a compost pile, add these tender weeds to the mix. Another task for this time of year would be to assess which plants were successful last year, and which ones did not thrive. If you made a garden plan last year, then note it on that plan. The plant may have failed due to inappropriate light requirements. The sun or light exposure can be the difference between success and failure. For instance the sun moves across the sky all year, so what appeared to have had plenty of sunlight last spring, may have less by the time summer comes around. For example, an area of my beds is sunny this time of year because the trees have not produced their leaves and will later shade out this area. And then there is the task of making a garden plan for this year. You may want to change the 2022 plan and sow more areas with seed. When I make a plan, I map out the perimeters of the bed, put in north/south orientation, and then draw the plant areas. For instance, in one area I would show dianthus planted in January, then an arrow indicating the next planting or sowing in that spot. would be marigolds. And then lastly, the task of executing your plan. I carry my plan with me to garden centers to remind me of what to purchase.
Some people ask in what zone is Alabama because a lot of seed packets and other plant instructions show planting times by zone. Zone 8 States are as follows: Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida( parts of southern Florida are in Zone 9),Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas,Arizona, California, coastal Oregon, and Washington. For instance, North Alabama is in Zone 7 due to the cold weather experienced in the winter month. Zones are determined by which plants can thrive at a certain location based on the average annual minimum winter temperatures. The lower the Zone number the colder the winters and vice versa, the higher the Zone number, the warmer the winter. The USDA has put out a Plant Hardiness Zone Map, and you can go to that which is more specific to your particular location.
Now would be a good time to get out any grass that has sneaked into your beds. Letting grass grow with flowers is an unmitigated disaster. If the infestation is too great for digging it out, I would suggest a controlled use of RoundUp. Please note that RoundUp is the trade name for Glyphosate, which is harmful to humans. Don masks and gloves when using this product. Avoid spraying when windy, and protect any nearby plants with some type of shield such as a garbage bag, or cardboard.
In the South this plant is commonly called Border Grass since it was planted to border or edge, and surrounded everything from Azaleas to trees to flower beds. One reason for this can be attributed to its thick mat of roots keeping at bay any intrusions past these defences. In other words, no grass will enter through this border. But like most good things, it was overused and hence, now not used nearly as much, which is a good thing. Also, the plants thrive in sun or shade. A workhorse groundcover, it can be planted on slopes, to prevent soil erosion, massed under Oak trees where nothing else will thrive plus a myriad of other good uses. The growth habit is mounding with tough, leathery deep green and grasslike leaves, flowers in the summer with white and purple stalks and this is followed by glossy black berries in winter. Most common to our area would be Liriope muscari 'Majestic'.
Happy St. Patrick's Day and GOOD GARDENING.