University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
FERTILIZING HOUSEPLANTS AND OTHER
MARCH GARDENING TIPS
Nardozzi, Horticulturist and
Perry, UVM Extension Horticulturist
houseplants, cutting and forcing woody branches such as pussy
bloom indoors, and cutting back leek seedlings are some of the
activities for this month.
that the days are getting longer, your houseplants either will be
vigorous growth, or have been growing (perhaps blooming) with the
of winter and in need of some fertilizer.
It may seem a contradiction to have growth in winter, but with
off the trees and reflection from the snow, even the shorter days
and less sun
typically of winter can cause houseplants to grow. More light ends
up reaching them than with
organically inclined, you can use a seaweed or fish emulsion blend
fertilizer. But look for one labeled as
"no odor" to avoid the usual pungent smell. You can fertilize
at the label's recommended dilution rate, or fertilize every time
using a quarter-strength mix. Such a fertilizer regime applies to
products as well. Or you can use a
slow-release fertilizer product that lasts over a long time, if you
forget to fertilize.
the pussy willow buds are beginning to swell, go on a scavenger hunt
in wet areas. Just make sure you’re not cutting on private property
permission. Take 2-foot cuttings from
the bush, trying not to deform it by taking too many cuttings in one
Bring them indoors and place them in water in a cool room. This is a
can force many other woody branches too.
If your shrubs were unfortunate to get coated with and damaged by
this past winter, this might be a good use for broken branches.
Some like to soak branches in a bathtub overnight
before putting in vases of water.
closer to the natural bloom time of the shrub or tree, the more
rapidly it can
be forced into bloom indoors. Some of
the quickest to bring into bloom by forcing, often in 2 to 3 weeks,
forsythia, honeysuckle, pussy willow, shadblow, witchhazel, birch,
and weeping willow. Those taking 4 to 5
weeks to force into bloom include flowering quince, lilac, redtwig
rhododendron, crabapple, and pear.
If you started leeks indoors, they are
probably getting pretty tall and leggy by now. Trim them back to
about 2 inches
in height, so they don't get spindly and fall over. Like grasses,
from near the soil line, so you won't harm the growing point by
out seed-starting trays and pots and wash them in soapy water. Then,
bucket or work sink or flat plastic tub, sterilize them in a
solution of one
part bleach to nine parts water, or one part household disinfectant
Lysol to two parts water. This will help prevent diseases such as
planning your veggie garden layout, avoid planting members of the
family in the same spot they were in last year, or even the year
Members of the same family are susceptible to the same diseases and
infestations. For example, avoid planting members of the tomato
(tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant) in the same place year
Other activities this month include
visiting a maple sugarhouse event, taking mowers in for tune-ups
spring rush, resisting soil preparation if your garden is too wet,
fruit trees if needed (when temperatures are above freezing), and
potted flowering spring bulbs such as tulips, hyacinths, or mini
(Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally known horticulturist,
author, gardening consultant, and garden coach; CharlieNardozzi.com).