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March Gardening Calendar Includes Seminar On Butterfly Gardening

by William M. Johnson
March 2, 2005

Gardening: Rosebud Tree imsgeLate summer’s seed pods mix in with spring’s burst of color display by redbuds. The arrival of spring is being signaled by the eye-catching display of color of redbud trees in local landscapes. The flowers are borne on bare branches before leaves start to appear. Photo credit: William M. Johnson

The arrival of March signals the beginning of the spring gardening season. The overabundance of dull, cloudy days during February is offset by the colorful displays of flowering trees and shrubs appearing in local landscapes. Here's a checklist of things to do for the month:

BUTTERFLY GARDENING PROGRAM - What do butterflies eat? Do butterflies need to drink? When do butterflies sleep? What is this caterpillar eating all my butterfly weed plant?

If you have asked these questions, then you can get the answers to these and other questions by attending an upcoming program on Saturday, March 5, entitled "A Garden for Butterflies." The presentation will be held from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the County Extension Office located at 5115 Highway 3 in Dickinson.

The presentation will be provided by Anna Wygrys, a longtime Certified Master Gardener and resident of Santa Fe. She coauthored The Butterflies of Galveston County—What Every Gardener Needs to Know, a comprehensive, 36-page color publication that contains essential information about the 83 species of butterflies of Galveston County and the plants that nurture them.

Commonly occurring butterflies and their life cycles, and plants that attract butterflies and how to grow them will be discussed. Small backyard butterfly gardens are simple and fun to establish. To learn how to get started or to enhance your existing skill level, take advantage this informative program on "A Garden for Butterflies."

Pre-registration is required due to limited seating and reservations are made on a first-come, first serve basis. Visit or contact the County Extension Office (phone: 281-534-3413, ext. 6; e-mail: GALV3@WT.NET) to make your reservation.

PLANTING TREES AND SHRUBS - If you haven’t done so already, try to finish your shrub and tree planting during March so the plants can become well established before the approach of summer heat. Remember, don't buy and set out more plants than you have time to care for–they will suffer for it during the summer. Remember, too, proper planting and bed preparation are critical.

FERTILIZE LANDSCAPE TREES AND SHRUBS - March is an excellent time to fertilize established landscape trees and shrubs as they come out of their long winter dormancy period and put out new growth. It is not necessary to punch holes in the ground to fertilize trees or shrubs or to use fertilizer spikes. Surface application of a granular fertilizer is quite satisfactory.

VEGETABLES - Many types of vegetables can be established in the garden during March including transplants of tomatoes and peppers as well as direct-seeding of beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, southern peas and many other vegetables. Wait until the last week of March or early April to plant okra which does not tolerate cool spells.

DORMANT OIL - Be cautious about applying dormant oil at this time of year. For plants whose leaf and flower buds have not yet opened, it can still be used. If dormant oil is applied when buds are open–even slightly–the oil can cause damage. Dormant oil should never be applied to certain plants–check label instructions.

HOUSEPLANTS - It's an excellent time to repot houseplants. Gently knock the plant out of the pot and inspect the root system. If the roots are crowded and matted on the outside of the root ball, put the plant in a larger pot. If the roots are not visible along the outside of the rootball, the plant probably has a poor root system and should be moved to a smaller pot. Move up or down only one pot size when transplanting.

ANNUALS - Set out copper plants, ageratum and ornamental amaranth and other annuals.

CAMELLIAS AND AZALEAS - As camellia and azalea plants finish blooming, fertilize them with an azalea-camellia fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

LAWN WEEDS - Weeds in a lawn usually indicate a poor lawn-management program. If weeds are a problem in the lawn, get a soil test done to determine the fertility level of the soil. While the individual levels of various soil nutrients (such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium as well as micronutrients) are important, the relative proportions of soil nutrients to each other are also critical. A healthy turf is your first line of defense against weeds.

WEED KILLERS - Remember that many landscape trees and shrubs are damaged or killed each year by the careless application of weed killers to lawns, including those found in mixes of weed killers and fertilizers (commonly called "weed & feed"). Always read and follow all label directions very carefully including application near the drip line of landscape trees and shrubs.

BERMUDA GRASS - Bermuda grass lawns can be seeded now to provide sufficient time to become established before the onset of summer’s hot weather conditions.

Use high quality seed and prepare the seed bed well before planting.

LAWN MOWERS - Inspect the lawn mower early and take care of needed repair work early to avoid the spring rush at the local lawn mower repair shop. Be sure the mower blade is sharp.

BEDDING PLANTS - Be selective in planting annuals and bedding plants. Set out no more than you can properly care for. For limited garden areas, try using containers on the patio or porch.

FIRE BLIGHT - If fire blight was a problem last spring on your pears, flowering quince, pyracantha or hawthorn, begin a spray program to control this bacterial disease. Use streptomycin sulfate, Bordeaux mixture or Kocide during bloom (follow the manufacturer's directions). Prune out all infected wood using sharp shears that have been disinfected between cuts with alcohol or a 10% solution of household bleach such as Clorox or Purex (one part bleach to 9 parts water).

Dr. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County
Extension Office of Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University. Visit his web site at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.htm

Gardening: Scale insects and pampas grass - July 17, 2004 article

Gardening: Bananas - August 1, 2004 article

Gardening: August Gardening Calendar - August 16, 2004 article

Gardening: Trio Of Extension Programs Includes Pear Tasting, Master Naturalist Class & Rose Seminar - August 20, 2004 article

Gardening: Prepare Now For Fall Gardens - August 26, 2004 article

Gardening: Septemberís Garden Calendar Includes Fall Pecan Field Day - September 2, 2004 article

Gardening: Ornamental Grasses - September 8, 2004 article

Gardening: Don't Let Landscape Become A High-Maintenance Nightmare - September 22, 2004 article

Gardening: Oct. 10 Plant Sale & Seminar To Feature Butterfly Gardening - Butterflies Bring Color, Motion to Garden - October 2, 2004 article

Gardening: Plant It And They Will Come: Getting the Butterflies of Galveston County to Grace Your Yard - October 2, 2004 article

Gardening: Rose Propagation & Seasonal Decorating Workshops To Be Held - October 13, 2004 article

Gardening: Extension Office To Sponsor Open House On October 29, Seasonal Decorations and Onion and Garlic Workshops - October 20, 2004 article

Gardening: Extension Office To Sponsor Open House On October 29 and County Pecan Show - October 27, 2004 article

Gardening: November Is Pansy Time - November 6, 2004 article

Gardening: County Pecan Growers Display Their Successes - November 11, 2004 article

Gardening: Gardeners' Questions On Fall Crops - November 17, 2004 article

Gardening: Gardenersí Q&As For November - November 28, 2004 article

Gardening: Gardeners' December Checklist Includes Citrus Show On Dec. 9 - December 3, 2004 article

Gardening: Citrus Show A Huge Success With 185 Entries - December 19, 2004 article

Gardening: Trees and Shrubs - December 23, 2004 article

Gardening: Cold Weather Impact - January 4, 2005 article

Gardening: Gardeners' Checklist For January Includes Several Educational Programs - January 7, 2005 article

Gardening:Announcing the 2005 Galveston County Master Gardener Training - January 13, 2005 article

Gardening:Peach & Plum Growers' Workshop To Be Held Saturday, January 29 - January 19, 2005 article

Gardening: Gardening for Texas Wildlife - January 28, 2005 article

Gardening: Wide Variety of Citrus to Be Available at February 5 Fruit Tree Sale and Home Citrus Production - January 31, 2005 article

Gardening: Fruit Trees Of The Gods Featured In February 5 Master Gardener Plant Sale - February 2, 2005 article

Gardening: "If I Were A Tomato, I Would Want To Be Grown In Texas . . . Galveston County, That Is!" Workshop to be held February 12 - February 9, 2005 article

Gardening: February Is Rose Pruning Time...Attend Rose Care Seminar to Learn How - February 16, 2005 article

Gardening: Extension Activities At The Home & Garden Show On Feb. 26-27 - February 23, 2005 article

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