MARCH GARDENING ZONE 9B

We will be moving into our new home at the end of March. Limited time to enhance the builder's landscaping in March this year, but it seems like a good place to start to get a grip on what happens in gardening in Florida in the Melbourne (Zone 9B) area.

ANNUALS - SEASONS for annuals:

I like to colorize my landscape with a few annuals. Part of my research will be finding new color for the Florida seasons. I have read that Salvia, Geraniums, and Waxed Begonias do well year round and with some protection from frost can be long lasting through several seasons.

WINTER: 9B has cool nights in winter with occasional freezes possible. In January consider planting: Petunias, Pansies, Statice, Carnation, Calendula and Snapdragons in January and in February I will be able to plant Ageratum, alyssum, aster, baby's breath, Begonia, Browallia, Cosmos, Dusty miller, Gazania, Geranium, Hollyhock, Lobelia, Marguerite daisy, pansy, periwinkle, Petunia, snapdragon, and Verbena PER the University of FL.

EARLY SPRING and LATE FALL: 9B has cool nights.

LATE SPRING/SUMMER/EARLY FALL: High night temps, heavy rains, high humidity, very hot days. CONSIDER Crossandra, vinca, coleus, caladiums tolerate high temps and humidity. Plant in late spring or early summer.

Annuals for March planting include Ageratum, alyssum, Amaranthus, baby's breath, balsam (Impatiens), Celosia, calliopsis, dusty miller, Gaillardia, Gazania, Geranium, hollyhock, Lobelia, Marguerite daisy, marigold, Nicotiana, ornamental pepper, Pentas, periwinkle, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Streptocarpus, Sweet Williams, Thunbergia alata, Torenia, Verbena and Zinnia. (Per the Univ of Florida) Fertilize annuals when preparing the soil; monthly.

I like to colorize my landscape with a few annuals. I have read that Salvia and Waxed Begonias do well year round. Geraniums and begonias may need some protection from frost, but otherwise are long lasting through several seasons.

AZALEAS:

March is the month to prune azaleas at the tips after they bloom...to promote fuller growth.. So if they need to be pruned in March (following bloom), that must mean they grow well here, even if they only bloom for a brief period. I will put AZALEAS on my possibility list for shopping! Also any bushes that have been dormant can be pruned now in March. I learned that March is the time to fertilize my palms, and any azaleas, camellias or ornamental shrubs that we plant.

BULBS:

One of my challenges will be finding new color for the Florida seasons. CALADIUMS should help do it! They have large colorful leaves and frankly didn't do that well in North Carolina but should love the sun and warm roots of summer here. I am not yet even familiar with some of the following bulbs that the University of Florida recommends planting in March!

  • African iris, Amazon lily, Aztec lily, tuberous Begonia, blood lily, Caladium, Canna, Crinum, Dahlia, Gloriosa lily, Kaffir lily, Montbretia, Shell Ginger, Society garlic, Spider lily, Tiger flower, Tuberose, Voodoo lily, Walking iris, Watsonia, and Zephyr lily.

LAWN:

Fertiziling lawns is done by the HOA maintenance agreement. They mow, weedwhack, edge. Leaves me more time for planting, deadheading, and picking bouquets (am I being too optimistic!). I won't need to worry about the grass. I have learned that the landscaping by the builder will include FLORITAM grass.

Three large palm trees are including in the landscaping package. These need to be mulched with 2 to 3 inches of organic material. They will be braced upon planting which I need to leave in place for at least 6 to 8 months. And I need to water them daily for the first few weeks and frequently after that until established. With the wet summer months ahead, Mom Nature will help me with this one. We do have water restrictions in this area right now, so I will need to check on when I can irrigate! The palm fertilizer can be added to the margin of the root ball after about 3 to 4 months (say June or July of 2011).

The MARCH short list:

  1. Consider planting the various annuals listed above.
  2. Consider planting the various bulbs in March. Find out which bulbs can remain in the ground year after year.
  3. Wait to fertilize Palms in June or July (band around margin of base with palm fertilizer)
  4. Find out when I can irrigate in my area. Water the specific plants as best I can in between.
  5. Mulch plants 2 to 3 inches.
  6. If I had an azalea, I'd inspect it for pruning off the tips following flowering. (Dream)
  7. Sit on my screened porch and watch the HOA lawn maintence folks mow, edge and weedwhack!

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