As March begins, summer weather persists!

Even though the calendar has flipped over to March, summer weather will continue for the weeks ahead. Days are getting shorter however so enjoy these long warm days and the bountiful fruit, flowers and vegetables that the garden produces in abundance as autumn arrives.

Delightful dahlias and autumn perennials

One of the standout flowers of early autumn is the dahlia. Having grown rapidly from a potato-sized tuber in spring, these tall plants are festooned with stems of colourful flowers. Continue to feed with PowerFeed Pro Series for Roses & Flowers fortnightly to support these plants and they’ll keep producing flowers to enjoy in the house or to give away as a bunch to friends or family.

Dahlias love a warm sunny spot but can’t tolerate frost so will keep growing as long as the winter chill keeps away. Joining dahlias in bloom this month are Michaelmas daisies (also known as Easter daisy or aster), chrystanthemums, coneflowers, penstemons and sasanqua.

Sasanquas are the first camellias to bloom with many out now adding fresh colour to gardens. They are fast-growing evergreen shrubs that make dense hedging or can be grown as feature or as potted plants. The flowers can be white, pink or red and range from single to double. Most have lots of golden stamens that make them attractive to nectar-eating birds including parrots and honeyeaters, and to beneficial insects. They do best in slightly acidic soils with added compost like Seasol Super Compost.

01_Your Garden in March - Dahlias
Your Garden in March - Lawn

Fix up the lawn

Lawns can look a little tired and worn out by the end of summer. To reinvigorate lawns, aerate compacted areas using a garden fork or power aerator (which can be hired). After aerating, top dress with a coarse topdressing mix such as Seasol Lawn Top Dress Mix.

Patch any bare spots with excess runners or seed. Apply Seasol Lawn & Turf Starter to newly planted runners or sown seed to help improve seed germination, promote strong root development and healthy green growth.

After rain or a deep watering, feed the lawn with a complete lawn food. An easy way to feed the lawn is to use a hose-on applicator such as Seasol Lawn Care which promotes healthy growth, enhances foliage colour and protects your lawn from heat and drought stress.

Saving money in the garden by growing from cuttings

With the ever-rising cost of living, being able to grow your own plants from cuttings can make gardening affordable. Autumn is a good time to take cuttings of most garden plants. To get started try geraniums, daisies, penstemon, salvia and succulents.

Take a pencil-thick length of healthy stem with several nodes (at 10-15cm long). Remove excess leaves from the lower stem and any flowers or buds before placing the cutting firmly into a pot filled with a propagating mix such as Seasol Seed Raising & Cutting Potting Mix. A 15cm pot can hold several cuttings. Label the cuttings then place the pot into a foam box (to keep the pot warm) in a sheltered spot.

Water regularly with Seasol to aid with root development. Once roots form, the new plants can be potted on into their own pots to grow. They’ll be ready to plant out in spring.

Your Garden in March - Cuttings
Your Garden in March - White Butterfly

White butterflies arrive

White butterflies may look pretty flitting about in the autumn garden but they aren’t just decorative. They are searching for brassicas as these are the host plants for their larvae – the green cabbage butterfly caterpillars. The caterpillars feed voraciously and can do a lot of damage by chewing leaves.

Keep an eye out for early signs of damage and carefully inspect vulnerable plants including broccoli, cabbage and other brassica relatives looking for small green caterpillars and egg clusters.

Although not a brassica, nasturtiums are also favoured by cabbage white butterfly larvae and can act as a warning plant if they are grown near the vegetable garden. Squash any caterpillars and eggs that are seen then cover vulnerable crops with fine white mesh to keep the butterflies away or treat with EarthCare Natural Pyrethrum insect spray. Spraying when pests are active, making sure the underside of the foliage is covered.

Five important jobs for early autumn

  • Plan ahead for spring by planting bulbs. Consider daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, freesias, anemone and ranunculus.
  • Clear any spent summer crops to make way for broccoli, beetroot and cabbage.
  • Repot potted plants that are drying out too quickly into Seasol Advanced Potting Mix.
  • Keep feeding roses with liquid fertiliser PowerFeed Pro Series for Roses & Flowers to see lots more blooms appear.
  • Stay on top of weeds to prevent them from seeding and spreading. Manually remove by hand weeding, or consider a herbicide like EarthCare Organic Weedkiller.

Small trees for gardens

Trees, even small ones, bring shade, shelter and beauty to gardens. Most are also attractive to beneficial insects and nectar-feeding birds.

Autumn is a good time to plant a tree so look out for trees in flower in autumn at hardware and garden centres. Outstanding are crepe myrtles, flowering gums and the evergreen gordonia. These all require a sunny location with good air circulation. Check plant tags for more information on how high and wide they will grow and pick a spot in the garden where they can grow happily.

Water your new tree in with Seasol and apply every two weeks to give your plant a great kick start to life. Mulch around the tree with organic mulch such as lucerne or sugarcane mulch to keep plant roots warm and the soil moist.

To get some inspiration visit our guide on Autumn-foliage trees.

Your Garden in March - Small Trees
Your Garden in March - Passionfruit

Passionfruit care

Passionfruit are a great backyard crop that make smart use of any warm, sunny vertical space and this is a time of the year when there’s plenty of fruit around.

Keep plants well-watered and regularly fed with a complete fertiliser for fruiting plants such as Seasol plus Nutrients Fruit & Citrus to ensure a good crop. Make it easy to pick up fallen ripe fruit from the ground beneath the vine by keeping the area weed-free and closely mown.

Cold conditions stop fruit ripening, especially in autumn. For great tips on how to care for passionfruit, check out our How to grow passionfruit guide.