Action for March Borders
Jobs to do now for instant results
Remove daffodil flowers once they've finished flowering. This will make the bulbs put their energies into next year’s display instead of making seeds. Don’t cut back the foliage yet – wait until it's turned brown when it can be easily pulled away.
Cut any rose bushes and hedges back by one third to a half. Cut diseased stems back to healthy growth. Prune established bush roses removing crossing, dead and damaged wood, and prune the main stems to an outward-facing bud around 15-20cm from ground level.
Jobs to do now; you'll reap the rewards later
Sow sweet peas outside
If you didn’t have time to sow sweet peas in pots indoors earlier in the year, don’t worry – if you live in a milder area, they can now be sown outside where you want them to flower.
Take cuttings of delphiniums and lupins
Use new shoots emerging from the base of the plant and cut them from just below soil level with a sharp knife. Insert the cuttings into pots of compost – see our to find the best compost for growing on young plants. Put the pot in a clear plastic bag and the cuttings should root in a few weeks.
Lift hellebore seedlings
Hellebores cross pollinate with other varieties and self seed readily. Dig up seedlings and pot them up to grow on – you may discover a new variety.
Protect plants from frost
Spring is well on the way and the weather is getting warmer, but your garden can still be hit by frost in March. If frost is forecast, use fleece to protect the new leaves of hydrangea, Japanese maple and pieris.
You can protect any emerging seedlings the same way. You should also cover the flowers of apricots, cherries, currants, peaches and plums – if they get frosted, you won’t get any fruit. For large plants, cover as many branches as you can. Uncover on frost-free days to allow pollination.
Protect plants from slugs and snails
Prevent slug and snail attack by using barriers such as copper tape (now also with serrated edges) to protect container plants. The biological control Nemaslug (for slugs, not snails) is watered onto the soil and will work for up to six weeks.
Copper rings, sparing use of metaldehyde pellets, Slug Clear or Growing Success Advanced Slug Killer can protect plants in the ground. Download our slugs and snails factsheet for our recommended tried-and-tested slug and snail treatments.
Divide clumps of snowdrops and winter aconites after they've finished flowering. You can also divide herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses such as milium, hakonechloa and calamagrostis. Lift the plant and either break the clump into two pieces (or more depending on its size) or chop it into sections with a spade. Replant the new plants without delay so they don't dry out.