General Tasks

  • Continue pruning late-flowering climbers and deciduous shrubs.
  • Plant evergreens and conifers, ornamental trees and shrubs.
  • Continue protecting delicate shrubs from late frosts.
  • Plant new climbers and check supports for existing ones.

Managing Trees and Shrubs in March

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.

Trees and Shrubs to Plant in March

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.

Planting Climbers

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.

Planting Trees

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:

  1. Soak the roots and trim away any that are broken or too long.
  2. Position the tree with the root union 5cm (2 in) above soil level.
  3. Hammer a stake in at an angle facing the prevailing wind.
  4. Cover the roots with soil and shake it down between the roots to prevent air pockets.
  5. Tie the tree to the stake.
  6. Tread the soil around the base to firm it and apply a mulch.

Container-grown trees, and trees such as conifers, which are often sold root-balled in sacking, should be planted as follows:

  1. Dig a hole slightly deeper and twice as wide as the container or root ball.
  2. Fork over the bottom of the hole and incorporate well rotted manure or garden compost into the soil.
  3. Hammer a stake in at an angle facing the prevailing wind.
  4. Soak the roots thoroughly in water, then carefully remove the container or sacking.
  5. If the container doesn't come away easily, cut it down both sides and slide the plant out.
  6. Do not disturb the roots of container grown or root-balled trees, though any roots wrapped round the inside of the container should be gently teased out.
  7. Position the tree in the hole and return the topsoil or mixture of topsoil and compost, firming as you go.
  8. Tie the tree to the stake.
  9. Tread the soil around the base to firm it and apply a mulch.

Keep the newly planted tree well watered and weeded for the first growing season.

Trees and Shrubs to Prune in March

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.

Pruning roses

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.

Pruning winter flowering shrubs

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.

Feeding Trees and Shrubs

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.

Next Page >> What to do in the Vegetable Garden in March >>

Shrubs for March

Deciduous trees and shrubs in flower:


Chaenomeles (quince)

Cornus mas

Cornus mas (cornelian cherry)

daphne bholua glacialis gurkha

Daphne (various)




Magnolia (many cultivars)

Prunus (flowering cherry)

Prunus (flowering cherry)

Ribes Sanguineum

Ribes Sanguineum (flowering currant)

Viburnum x bodnantense

Viburnum x bodnantense

Evergreen trees and shrubs in flower:

Azara microphylla


Berberis linearifolia

pink camellia flower

Camellia (many cultivars)

Erica herbacea

Erica herbacea (various)

daphne bholua










Ulex europaeus

Ulex europaeus (gorse)

Viburnum tinus

Viburnum tinus

March Climbers

Clematis armandii