With winter finally moving on our attention turns back to our green space at home, whether that be indoors or outdoors, and the time is right for gardners to spring into action. Our gardening expert, RHS professional associate Darren Rudge is on hand to share his advice here, and you can also discover more hints, tips and guidance in our Gardening Ideas page.

Darren Rudge section divider

After what seems to have been a long dreary winter March heralds the beginning of spring. Buds are now bursting, and a profusion of flowers are to come as our gardens awaken from their winter slumbers. March can be a month where we see mild temperatures and sunshine, this however can be tempered by hard frosts so March/April can be tricky months for us gardeners to work through. That said, with buds bursting and a profusion of flowers, it signals the fact that spring is finally here!

A hedgehog sitting on a mossy log, surrounded by a plant pot and colourful flowers

Bursting to life

This month sees the hard work really begin in our gardens, not only for us but also for our plants. It takes a lot for our plants to push themselves into growth with extra expenditure of energy being needed for them to flower; this is even more reason to marvel at the floral display and colour we see in March/early April.

Spring bulbs like Crocus will be the first things to ‘spring’ into life and towards the end of the month the classics we all know and love, our spring flowering shrubs begin their dazzling display.

Flowering purple, white and yellow crocus flowers planted in earth

Forstythia x intermedia ‘Lynwood’ and Daphne mezereum are such plants; stalwarts of our gardens that we have come to rely on at this time of year.

Others to mention are the weeping Salix caprea ‘Kilmarnock’ or the pussy willow, which is festooned with its furry catkins. Coryllus avellana ‘contorta’ bears long catkins on twisted branches and these are joined by other flowering shrubs like Chaenomeles and Prunus.

Blossoming Chaenomeles flowers

Spring bulbs like Scilla, Iris, Narcissus and Tulipifera enhance and broaden the glorified display we are being treated to and are joined by herbaceous perennials like Doronicum, Anenome and the unusual Lysichiton americanus.

The list and myriad to be seen is endless but those mentioned are some of my favourites. This sonata of colour gives a flavour of the complete symphony that we have yet to come.

Yellow flowering swamp cabbage plant

General advice for beginning the work:

March and the change in weather inspires us to get into the garden. The saying ‘full of the joys of spring’ comes to mind.  My advice is to take a steady approach to this work and plan the jobs you intend to tackle.

Like every other type of exercise, you’ve got to be prepared. Do carry out warm up exercises and only tackle strenuous tasks after due consideration; remember repetitive tasks can harm joints especially your back.

Gardening is great exercise but be sensible about what you can achieve and tackle; A little and often is better than nothing at all.

A man holding a shovel digging up land in a garden

Now the work begins:

After a long winter it’s time for some serious work in the garden, and now is the time to start getting everything going. Here are a few reminders of what you need to be up to during March.

  • Mulch bare soil in beds and borders and move evergreen shrubs.
  • Prune back your bush and shrub roses and prune hard back winter shrubs that have given colourful stems like Cornus.
  • Take cuttings from Dahlia tubers and propagate your spring perennials through basal cuttings from new shoots.
  • Now is the time to start mowing regularly; remember on a high height of cut setting at first and slowly lowering this as the season progresses.
  • Re-seed bare patches, scarifying and feeding your lawn or indeed establishing a new lawn can all also be done at this time of year.
  • For the vegetable growers amongst us, plant early potatoes and asparagus; also sow the range of vegetables you have planned outdoors now, keeping an eye out for those late frosts making sure you protect fruit blossom.

A man moving an indoor houseplant from a temporary plant pot into a ceramic bowl

Indoor plants

It’s spring cleaning time indoors too and your houseplants are no exception. Dust settles on leaves just like it does on your furniture. To clean indoor plants, take them outside for a gentle spray with the hose or on a rainy day (don’t let them get waterlogged though) or keep them inside and gently wipe the leaves with a damp cloth.

Spring is the best time to repot houseplants as it stimulates new growth, meanwhile as spring is when your houseplants will start to wake up, they’ll need feeding more. More frequent watering is advised, keep the soil evenly moist but don’t think you have to water them on a schedule – check the soil first for thirst! A top tip is to collect rainwater – it’s the best type of water for indoor houseplants. Also, get the windows opens where you can – indoor plants need to breathe too, and a bit of fresh air does wonders. Make sure it’s not too cold out though, temperature changes can damage houseplants – this includes too much sunlight. Plants can get sunburn too! Read more about the best type of hardy houseplants here.

Brown and white bunny standing on its hind legs in the long grass

Looking forward to April

Aside from Easter, April has plenty for us to look forward to. It’s the start of blossom season, plus our gardens begin to vibrate with the lushness of the colour green and the vibrancy of flowers and leaves.

Next month we’ll look at some tips on low maintenance gardening techniques you may like to consider.

Happy gardening!

 

Darren Rudge,

The Laughing Gardener

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