Below are a number of gardening tips for each month of the year

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Cold Weather Update With warnings of a cold snap, you may be concerned that some of your garden plants, which have shown signs of growth, may be damaged. Here is some advice on how to best protect your plants. In cold spells, protect non frost-proof containers with bubble wrap, hessian or fleece, to prevent them cracking. Protect newly planted trees, hedges and shrubs from cold winds and frosts, which can loosen and lift the roots. In the flower garden Prune rose bushes now whilst they are dormant. Cut back to just above a bud, and remove any crossing or dead branches. If your garden is looking a bit bare, try growing a winter-flowering evergreen Clematis such as Winter Beauty. In the vegetable garden Harvest parsnips and leeks. While you’re waiting for the weather to warm up, try growing your own mushrooms. Remove yellowing leaves from your winter brassicas as they are no use to the plant and may harbour pests and diseases. In the fruit garden Begin pruning your apple trees and pear trees if you haven’t done so already – this is best done whilst they are dormant Leave plums, cherries and apricots unprunes until the summer as pruning these fruit trees now will make them susceptible to silver leaf infections Prune blackcurrant bushes, gooseberries and redcurrants to maintain a productive framework

In some warmer locations, you can begin sowing your vegetable seeds outdoors

March is the perfect time to get those tomato and pepper seeds started indoors and ready for an early spring planting

Ireland is described as having a moderate climate. We do not have extremes of hot and cold weather, nor do we have extreme periods of rainfall or drought. However buried within our climate we have ‘weather’ – unpredictable periods, where within a given day, we can experience Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter weather.

We have just come through March where the weather was unexpectably cold and dry in the Cork region ( although not as bad on the East Coast and up North ) although this weather was not unprecedented.

Last month the warning went out that March could be a cold month and in the event this turned out to be true. A warning also went out concerning the temptation to begin planting tender bedding plants and Summer flowering plants ( although I see that they have been available in many outlets without a warning that they will be damaged by frost ).

I hope you have resisted the temptation !!!

I repeat the warning, do not waste your money by being tempted to plant Summer bedding plants or Summer container plants much before mid April at the earliest and should you wish to begin to plant up Summer containers at this unpredictable ( weatherwise ) time of the year, you should ensure that you have the conditions to adequately protect the plants from adverse weather conditions, while at the same time ensuring a good growing environment.

To ensure a successful outcome for your containers you should consider delaying planting until at the earliest mid to late April.

Daylength is increasing at this time of the year and temperatures are rising ( day time temperatures are begining to climb above 10 degrees ) although we can have some sleet and snow along with night frosts.

Continue to mow lawns (weather permitting) and apply a Spring fertiliser or a weed and feed fertiliser towards the end of the month, when it’s not too dry, and scarify to remove moss. You can complete rose pruning and feed with a rose fertiliser and mulch beds to prevent build up of weeds. Begin planting hardy herbecaceous perennials, divide established perennial plants and stake tall, or potentially tall, perennials.


Plant potted evergreen trees and shrubs (it’s getting late to plant barerooted plants) and water in well and continue to water during dry spells. You can prune trees and shrubs which have finished flowering and cut back those shrubs which will flower on this seasons growth.
Remove faded flowers from early flowering bulbs to prevent them wasteing energy in producing seeds. In dry weather, water well, to fatten up the bulbs between the fading of the flowers and the withering of the foliage.


Now is the time to begin to plan your container planting for the Summer season. Complete the cleaning out of tubs, window boxes, troughs and hanging baskets in preparation for the coming season.


Since our climate is dominated by ‘weather’ there is no predicting what the Summer will bring, weatherwise. Under these circumstances we should consider hedging our bets, container planting wise. We need to consider the possibilities that the Summer may be dry, wet or probably a mixture of both, so we need to consider choosing plants to cover all these possible outcomes.

SURFINIAS (trailing petunias) have been a popular choice for inclusion in baskets and containers, but do not perform well in exposed locations, in wet and windy weather but do perform well in dry warm Summers. However TRAILING BEGONIAS and BACOPA recover well from adverse weather so a planting combining surfinias, trailing begonias and bacopa along with longer lasting patio plants will accomodate, and selectively recover from, most Summer weather conditions. If watered, fed and deadheaded this combination of plants, among other combinations, will flower over the period from mid to late May to the first late Autumn/Winter frosts.

Remember for best results do not plant up containers too early as there is plenty of time to plant end April and during May.

More next month.

Pat Tuite.
Ballinora Nursery and Plant Centre.