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Gardening To-Do List for March

Updated on February 23, 2024

It’s a busy month in the garden, with planting, pruning and fertilizing topping the list of chores. Prioritize your landscape tasks with these helpful tips.

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Photo: Julie Martens Forney

Clean the Garden

Early spring bulbs like dwarf crested iris (Iris reticulata) appear long before spring garden cleanup begins. When cleaning up last year’s stems and autumn leaves, take care not to crush or cover spring bulb blooms, leaves or shoots.

Not sure when to tackle garden cleanup? The right time is after seven days of 50-degree temperatures. This timing gives beneficial insects, which hide among garden debris, a chance to wake up and exit their winter quarters. If you spot shoots poking through a heap of leaves, pull them aside gently. Wear gloves, because you might stir a sleepy bumblebee queen.

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Photo: Staff for Tower Hill Botanic Garden at

Plant Cole Crops

Early spring is the right time to get cole crops like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and broccoli into soil — either in the garden or containers. Pick up seedlings at your favorite garden center to jump-start the process, and remember to protect plants from nibbling deer or rabbits if those critters visit your garden. These crops tolerate late spring frosts so they can go in the ground before the last average frost.

14 can't-miss cool-season edibles

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Photo: Ball Horticultural Company

Wake Up Tropicals

Move overwintered plants like fuchsia, hibiscus, fig, angel’s trumpet and bougainvillea to a brighter window where early spring sun can deliver a wake-up call. Begin to water plants a little more frequently, and prune any spindly shoots that grew over winter. Don’t move tender tropicals outdoors until all danger of frost has passed.

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Photo: Gardener’s Supply Co. at

Sow Seeds

The right time to plant seeds for warm-season veggies like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants is six to eight weeks before your region’s last average spring frost. The advantage of starting your own transplants for these summer favorites is that you’ll have a guaranteed supply of varieties that might be hard to find, including tasty heirloom varieties, such as ‘Mortgage Lifter,’ ‘Yellow Brandywine’ and ‘Black Krim.’ If you started seeds too early or seedlings outgrow their tiny pots, bump them up to a 2" or 3" pot to keep them growing until the right time for planting outdoors.

seed starting step-by-step

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