Continue pruning late flowering climbers and shrubs that flower on last year's shoots. Apply a general fertilizer and mulch around the roots of plants to retain moisture. Continue protecting delicate shrubs from late frosts. Check existing supports for established climbers and tie in new growth.
March is the end of the planting season for deciduous and bare-rooted trees and shrubs, though container grown stock can be planted virtually all the year round. Evergreens and conifers can be planted now as well as the more delicate grey or silver-leaved shrubs such as artemisia, lavender, rosemary, santolina. Climbers can also be added to brighten up a wall or fence, if suitable support is provided.
Prepare the soil and fix any supports in place before planting. Provide a trellis for plants with twining growth, or wires for a climber that clings naturally with tendrils. A bushy climber, such as a rose, can be tied to a trellis or fence. For annual climbers, a simple lightweight mesh can be used or a wig-wham made from canes.
Check that your planting position is not near drains or soak-aways, as the climber's deep roots could cause problems later on. If you are planting against a wall, position the planting hole well away from the wall, so roots can find moisture.
Container-grown trees can be planted at any time of the year, as long as soil conditions are good. Bare rooted trees must be planting during the dormant season. Evergreen trees have slightly different requirements, as they are never dormant in the way a deciduous tree is, and April or autumn planting suits them best.
Bare-rooted trees should be planted as follows:
Container-grown trees, and trees such as conifers, which are often sold root-balled in sacking, should be planted as follows:
Keep the newly planted tree well watered and weeded for the first growing season.
Flowering shrubs that will flower on the coming season's growth should be pruned now. This includes shrubs that flower after about mid summer, such as: buddleia, late flowering ceanothus, clematis, hardy fuchsias, hebes and hydrangeas.
All roses except ramblers should be pruned now. Shrub roses will only need tidying up, by removing any old and diseased branches. Hybrid tea roses should be cut back to within 15-30 cm (6-12 in) of the ground to encourage strong new flower-bearing shoots to form. Any damaged, crossing, and weak branches should be removed completely. Floribunda roses should be, treated the same, except that the branches are pruned back less severely, by around 30-60 cm (1-2 ft). Varieties of climbing rose are pruned by retaining all the main branches, which should be tied-in to the supports, whilst any side shoots need to be cut back to less than 15 cm (6 in) long.
Winter flowering shrubs should be pruned now to give them enough time to grow and produce shoots ready for next winter. The best known examples are winter jasmine, witch-hazel, winter-flowering viburnums, winter-sweet (Chimonanthus) and flowering heath (Erica herbacea).
Prune winter jasmine by tying-in all the long shoots that you want to retain, and cutting back to 2-5 cm (1-2 in), all the others that have flowered.
Shrubs grown for their winter coloured stems should be cut hard back to within about 5 cm (2 in) of the old wood. These include: the dogwoods Cornus alba 'Sibirica', C. alba 'Elegantissima', C. stolonifera 'Flaviramea'; and Salix alba 'Chermesina'; the white-stemmed bramble (Rubus cockburnianus); and Cotinus coggygria.
Roses and shrubs should be given a top dressing of a general fertilizer, such as Growmore, early in the month to encourage strong new growth and flowers.
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Deciduous trees and shrubs in flower:
Cornus mas (cornelian cherry)
Magnolia (many cultivars)
Prunus (flowering cherry)
Ribes Sanguineum (flowering currant)
Viburnum x bodnantense
Evergreen trees and shrubs in flower:
Camellia (many cultivars)
Erica herbacea (various)
Ulex europaeus (gorse)