Pacific Northwest Gardens – What To Plant In March

March planting in the northwest United States comes with its own set of rules for a couple of reasons but nonetheless, there are some general guidelines for Pacific Northwest gardens. Want to know what to plant in March? The following northwest planting guide contains general information on what to plant in March.

Pacific Northwest Gardens

The Pacific Northwest covers a lot of ground from mountains to coasts and arid landscapes to rainforests. Each area of the region may be quite dissimilar regarding planting times so it’s a good idea to consult with your local Master Gardeners or nursery prior to planting.

About the Northwest Planting Guide

Along with other garden related chores, March is planting time in the northwest. The following northwest planting guide is just that, a guide. Factors that can vary include your exact location and microclimate, the weather of course; whether you plant in black plastic, have a greenhouse, use cloches, low tunnels, etc.

What to Plant in March?

By March in milder regions, some nurseries are open and selling bare-root and potted perennials, seeds, summer bulbs, rhubarb and asparagus crowns, and other plants potted or in burlap. Now is the time to make your selection on these items as well as early spring perennials to plant, like creeping phlox.

Otherwise, it’s definitely time to focus on the vegetable garden. Depending upon where you are located, March planting in the northwest may mean direct sowing of seeds or starting seeds indoors.

Veggie plants to start indoors, or outdoors depending upon outdoor weather conditions, include:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Collards
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Lettuces
  • Onions
  • Pak Choy
  • Peppers
  • Radicchio
  • Scallions
  • Tomatoes
  • Herbs (all)

Plants that can be direct sown outside in Pacific Northwest gardens include arugula, lettuces, mustard, and spinach.

March planting in the northwest should include planting your asparagus and rhubarb crowns, horseradish, onions, leeks, and shallots as well as potatoes. In many regions root veggies such as beets, carrots, and radishes can be direct sown.

While these are planting guidelines for the Pacific Northwest, a better barometer of what to plant and when to plant outside is if soil temperatures are 40 degrees F. (4 C.) or warmer. Crops like lettuce, kale, peas, and spinach can be direct sown. If soil temps are 50 degrees F. (10 C.) or higher, onion varieties, root crops, and Swiss chard can be direct sown. Once soil temps are over 60 degrees F. (16 C.) all the brassicas, carrots, beans, and beets can be direct sown.

Start warm season veggies like basil, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes for Pacific Northwest gardens indoors in March for later transplant.

10 Gardening Activities for March in the Pacific Northwest

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Here are a few garden reminders, tips, inspiring ideas, and maintenance suggestions for your garden this month.

Photo courtesy Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

You may have started your summer crops at the end of last month, but March is prime time for starting warm-season vegetables. Cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, melons, tomatoes are all good to start this month. Summer flowers for the cutting garden such as nasturtium, celosia, sunflowers, and zinnias can also be planted in the ground or in garden beds. Consider planting new varieties this season by sampling new releases from seed suppliers such as Johnny's Selected Seeds, Burpee, Floret, or Botanical Interests.

Photo courtesy Gardener’s Supply Company.

2. Plan a Complete Cutting Garden

You don’t need much space for a prolific blooming cutting garden. You can grow 10 to 15 different flower varieties in just a 7- by 7-foot area. Check out these simple cutting garden plans from Gardener’s Supply that include 14 varieties of flowers organized into simple plant rows. As with any productive garden, you’ll need to start with good soil. Amend your soil with compost and fertilizer. Read up on how Floret Flower prepares their soil. Evenly distributed, consistent watering is also a key to success in cutting gardens. Be sure that your drip irrigation is evenly distributed throughout garden beds (not in one line down the middle of the planting bed).

3. Divide Summer- and Fall-Blooming Perennials

Perennials that have overgrown their location or those that have matured can be divided this month. Early spring is a good time to divide perennials because typically cool and moist weather provides optimal transplanting conditions for new plants. This timing also gives new plants a full growing season to recover before facing cold winter conditions. (When dividing is done in fall there’s a shorter window of time for plants to recover.) If you’re unsure about what to divide in early spring versus fall, use this guideline: If the perennial blooms before mid-June, then divide in fall. If the perennial blooms after mid-June, then divide in early spring. Perennials to divide now include lamb’s ears, stonecrop, yarrow, bee balm, daylilies, ornamental grasses, sage, coreopsis, cannas, rudbeckia, coneflower. Read more about dividing perennials or download this PDF that lists plant-specific dividing information, both from the University of Minnesota.

Photo courtesy Garden Safe.

4. Prevent Slugs & Snails from Invading Your Garden

Slugs can be quite an issue in the garden come spring. Get a jumpstart on preventing slugs by applying an organic slug bait that’s safe for use around food, pets, and wildlife: Garden Safe Slug & Snail Bait, Sluggo Wildlife & Pet Safe Slug Killer. If you have raised beds for a kitchen garden or cutting garden, copper tape can also be an effective method for keeping snails and slugs out. Apply the tape along the edges or tops of the wood around your raised beds.

With moisture and a little sun, weeds in your garden will be sprouting in abundance. Keep up on weeds in garden beds before they grow out of control. Here are a few tools that help make weeding easier:

  • Long-handled hoe for doing a majority of the weeding without bending over.
  • Soil knife for weeds with thick roots as well as weeds around boulders or walls.
  • Root Slayer Nomad spade and weeder for larger weeds or turning beds.
  • Weed sweeper to remove weeds from joints in concrete or brick.

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Photo courtesy Greenworks.

Your lawn probably won’t start growing a lot this month, but if it reaches 3 inches tall, it’s time to start mowing. There are also preventative actions to take this month, as well as actions to ensure general lawn health. To prevent crabgrass or broad-leaf weed seeds from germinating, apply an organic weed preventer. (Learn more about how to get rid of weeds.) Early spring is also a good time to aerate your lawn while the soil is still moist and relatively soft. Once you aerate, you can overseed. If necessary, you should also dethatch your lawn at this time using a manual dethatching rake or mechanical dethatcher. You likely won’t need to fertilize until May.

Photo courtesy Edible Garden LA.

You likely won’t start planting new blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or gooseberries until April or even May in colder climates, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead now. One common issue with growing berries is that birds often get them before they can be harvested. Consider adding a protective structure and net around your berries. Crop cages will help protect your berries so you can enjoy more of them. You can even build larger custom cages for berries and other produce if you’re looking for an early spring project. On their website, Edible Gardens LA has some beautiful designs for custom crop cages.

Photo courtesy Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Growing asparagus at home will result in delicious spears to eat fresh from your garden in about a year. When planting crowns (instead of growing from seed) you should have asparagus to eat the following year. When planting from seed, it can take 2 to 3 years before you have a harvest. Plant crowns in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Try varieties from Johnny's Selected Seeds or Stark Bro's. If you’d like to learn more about growing asparagus check out this article from Seattle Urban Farm Company about growing and harvesting asparagus.

Photo courtesy the Portland Japanese Garden.

9. Visit a Garden or Conservancy

The Pacific Northwest is home to a number of gorgeous botanical gardens and conservancies. Spring is a great time to get ideas for your own garden and the quickly approaching planting season. Be sure to keep an eye on visiting the Portland Japanese Garden because the cherry blossoms typically start to bloom in late March (depending on the weather, they may start in early April). While you’re in the area, make a stop at Leach Botanical Garden, also in Portland. From March through spring and summer, plan trips to other gardens in and around the area such as these gardens in the Seattle region: Bellevue Botanical Garden, Bloedel Reserve, Dunn Gardens, Heronswood, PowellsWood, Seattle Japanese Garden, Volunteer Park Conservancy, and W.W. Seymour Conservancy. A beautiful garden to visit in Victoria, Canada is Butchart Gardens.

Also see our Self-Guided Day Trips for Portland and Seattle.

Photo courtesy Longfield Gardens.

10. Start Planting Spring-Planted Bulbs

Toward the end of the month, you can start planting spring-planted bulbs such as gladiolus, begonias, ranunculus, calla lilies, and others. For other bulbs, tubers, and rhizomes that like warmer weather (dahlias, lilies, elephant ear) be sure to wait until the soil temperatures have risen to around 60 degrees F. When planting, select a location with full sun and well-draining soil. Bulbs, tubers, or rhizomes will rot if sitting in soggy soil. Mix in compost and bulb fertilizer with garden soil so bulbs have nutrients for the growing season. As a general rule, plant bulbs at a depth of 2 to 3 times the bulb height. For dahlia tubers dig a hole 4 to 6 inches deep. If you haven’t bought any bulbs yet, check out a local garden center or online at retailers such as Longfield Gardens.

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Artichoke, Broccoli, Cabbage, Celery, Chard, Eggplant, Endive, Fennel, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leek, Lettuce, Onions, Pac Choi, Peppers, Radicchio, Scallion, Tomatoes, Basil, Chives, Cilantro, Marjoram, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, and Thyme

Bok Choy, Brocolli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chard, Cilatnro, Kale, Kholrabi, Parsley, Radishes, Salad Greens, Scallions, Spinach, Turnips

Brussels Sprouts, Chard, Eggplant, Fennel, Leeks, Peppers, Tomatoes, Basil, Marjoram, Rosemary, and Savory

Beans , Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chard, Kale, Kohlrabi, Pumpkins, Radishes, Salad Greens, Summer Squash, Spinach, Turnips, Winter Squash

Cucumber, Eggplant, Melons, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Watermelon

Basil, Beans , Cucumbers, Radishes, Summer Squash

Beets, Beans , Carrots, Fall: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Radish

Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Fennel, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce

Gardening in the Inland Northwest

Fall:The average date of the first frost ranges from early to late fall. Check your dates on Washington First Average Frost Date Map. Begin watching weather reports at this time in order to protect frost-sensitive plants. Even after the first frost, we can usually expect several weeks of warm temperatures.

Winter: Freezing temperatures, snow and ice. When planning your garden, consider that we are mostly in USDA Zone 6b, but we can plant a large variety of plants by using protective methods such as mulches, tree wraps, wind breaks and utilizing micro climates for more tender plants.

Spring: It teases us with warm weather one day and frost the next. It can stay cold and wet for quite some time as well. Be prepared to protect plants with covers, hot caps or row cover. Planting a little late is the safest method. Average last frost date ranges from early to late spring in Spokane County. Check your dates on Washington Last Average Frost Date Map.

Summer: Temperatures can be quite hot, sometimes reaching 100°F. It’s a dry season so we recommend drought-tolerant plants. Plan to irrigate. Our long summer days provide lots of sun for beautiful flowers. Vegetables grow well, but we do recommend short-season varieties when possible.

Watch the video: Top 10 Shade Garden Plants for the Pacific Northwest. diy garden

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