What to do in your garden in March

PLANNING

Order flowering plants. Consider yellow chocolate flower (Berlandiera lyrata), Gaura lindheimeri 'Pink Cloud', orwhite or wine-colored poppy mallow (Callirhoe alcaeoides or C. involucrata); all are availableas small transplants from High Country Gardens (www.highcountrygardens.comor 800/925-9387). Other low-water choices include salmon- toorange-colored apricot mallow ( Sphaeralcea ambigua), bright pink Parry's penstemon ( P. parryi), and blue and purple Penstemon spectabilis,available as seeds from Plants of the Southwest (www.plantsofthesouthwest.comor 800/788-7333).

PLANTING

Bare-root fruit trees. Sunset climate zones 2b-3a (Taos,Prescott): Plant bare-root stock of apples, apricots, nectarines,peaches, and pears.

Citrus. Zones 11-13 (Las Vegas, Tucson, Phoenix): Grapefruit('Marsh Seedless', 'Redblush'), lemon ('Eureka', 'Lisbon'),mandarin or tangerine ('Daisy', 'Fairchild'), sweet orange('Trovita', 'Valencia'), and tangelo ('Minneola', 'Orlando'). Forcontainer culture, try 'Improved Meyer' lemon and 'Mexican' lime,both of which can be moved indoors during winter.

Plants that attract butterflies. Draw butterflies to yourlandscape and keep them there by planting their favorites:butterfly bush (Buddleja), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), chaste tree (Vitex), Coreopsis, Jupiter's beard (Centranthus ruber), lantana, mint, rosemary, and yarrow (Achillea).

Rabbit-resistant plants. Bunnies will eat just aboutanything, but they tend to dislike highly aromatic plants likelavender, marigold, mint, rosemary, salvia, and society garlic.Rabbits also find these unappealing: Agave, euphorbia, lantana,Mexican evening primrose, nandina, plumbago, and verbena. Startwith plants large enough to survive some nibbling.

Summer-blooming bulbs. Zone 10 (Albuquerque, Sedona): Setout gladiolus corms when all danger of frost is past and the soilwarms to 65°. Zones 11-13: Plant bulbs of amaryllis, caladium,canna, crinum, Hymenocallis, and Zephyranthes.

Vegetables. Zone 10: Outdoors, sow seeds of broccoli,cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kohlrabi, radishes, and spinach.Indoors, start seeds of eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes fortransplanting in six weeks. Zones 11-13: Outdoors, sow seeds ofbush beans, cucumbers, jicama, melons, okra, and summer and wintersquash. At month's end, set out transplants of artichokes,eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes.

MAINTENANCE

Divide perennials. Zones 10-13: Divide clump-formingperennials like chrysanthemums and daylilies.

Fertilize. Most plants appreciate a dose of nitrogen thismonth. Feed fruit and ornamental trees, shrubs, lawns,groundcovers, perennials, and annuals that have been in the groundat least six weeks.

Mulch. Spread a 4- to 6-inch layer of compost, gravel,shredded bark, or wood chips around plants to keep roots cool andconserve soil moisture.

Prune herbs, shrubs. At month's end, cut back overgrownherbs like oregano, sage, and tarragon. Prune frost-damaged woodfrom bougainvillea, dalea, oleander, and other tender shrubs. Usesharp pruners; after each cut, clean blades with a solution of 1part bleach to 10 parts water to prevent the spread ofdiseases.

Water. Zones 10-13: As days lengthen and get warmer, adjustirrigation schedules. Citrus and fruit trees need water every 10 to14 days.

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