There is much to be done as the days get longer and you begin to focus on the growing season and summer months ahead, including plenty of seeds to sow. Think about what you want to plant and where as part of your garden ideas and begin to form a vision of how the garden will look.

What to plant in March – vegetables

If you live in a colder zone you might need to hold off on sowing seeds as part of your kitchen garden ideas until later in the month, although can start some off under cover. Gardeners in warmer regions, however, can get busy sowing directly in the soil. ‘There are plenty of ideas for what to plant in March, and it is ripe with great gardening opportunities. I always look forward to this month as it’s the time I get to sow some of my favourite vegetables, fruits and salads,’ says Mr Mitford, who manages the kitchen garden at Hawkstone Hall (opens in new tab). Now is a great time to start planting cool weather vegetables that can withstand the last few frosty days.

1. Peas

Early spring is the ideal time to plant cool season crops such as peas, while the temperature is still cool.  ‘Dig a wide trench 1.5" (4 cm) deep and plant 2 rows, 6" (15 cm) apart, seeds spaced 2" (5cm) apart, then cover and wait,’ says Mr Mitford. Plant rows every two weeks to stagger cropping, and provide supports for the plants to climb up. The experts at Costa Farms (opens in new tab) agree, advising to plant peas in wide rows instead of single file. ‘You will get a bigger crop per square inch if you scatter seed in a 6 to 10 inch wide band,’ they explain. Once you know how to grow peas you will be rewarded with the taste revelation of eating these freshly picked delights straight from the pod.

2. Tomatoes

Start tomatoes off in a heated glasshouse, or use a sunny windowsill, and then plant them out once all threat of frost has passed. ‘If you live in a frost-free region you can plant tomatoes outside in March,’ say the Costa Farm experts. ‘Sowing in early spring will result in a tastier summer crop and if given plenty of light and warmth, they will repay you tenfold,’ says Mr Mitford. Growing tomatoes at home is simple and you will enjoy a healthy crop from just a few plants.

3. Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts require a little forward planning as this slow-growing crop can take up to 35 weeks to be ready to harvest, so are definitely one for the list of what to plant in March, especially if you want an early crop to add to dishes and salads in fall. Brussels sprouts need cool weather. ‘The ideal climate is the “fog belt” of the Pacific Northwest, but they will grow in just about any part of the country,’ say the experts at Bonnie Plants (opens in new tab). ‘They mature best in cool and even in lightly frosty weather,’ they add. ‘Sow sprout seeds in cold frames or under fleece. Grow in a separate seed bed away from the vegetable garden and transplant them as and when space is available,’ says Mr Mitford.

Fruits to plant in March

March is the last chance for planting many bare-rooted fruit trees, as well as the time to sow or plant many varieties of berries.

1. Strawberries

If you are growing strawberries from seeds, they will benefit from an early spring start in the garden, say the Costa Farms experts. Strawberries won’t produce fruit in the first year when grown from seed, so are more of a long term choice for the vegetable garden. You can, however, also plant out cold-stored runners bought from nurseries as soon as they become available, and these will crop in their first year. They require well-drained soil and a sunny spot, which gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sunshine a day. They can also be grown in containers. These hardy plants go dormant in winter, but if you live in a colder zone they might need protecting with horticultural fleece when temperatures dip well below freezing.

2. Raspberries

Raspberries produce the best tasting crops when planted in early spring.  Bare root bushes can only be bought in the dormant season, so March is your last chance to plant these out. Although we associate these antioxidant-packed berries with warm, sunny days, when it comes to how to grow raspberries they actually thrive in cool conditions.  They can be prone to root rot, so plant in free-draining soil, such as in raised beds with fertile soil. Keep them well watered in dry spells but take care not to over water them as they do not like waterlogged soil.

3. Pears

Bare root pear trees are another excellent choice for what to plant in March, and in fact this is the last month of their dormant period. Why not grow your pear trees as espaliers, which is one of many vegetable garden trellis ideas? They can look stunning trained along a sunny garden wall and create an eye-catching backdrop. Growing vertically is also an ideal way to maximize on the growing space available, or for small gardens or courtyards where space is at a premium. Grow in moist, well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade.

What flowers to plant in March

March is the peak time for sowing flower seeds. Many hardy annuals can be scattered directly outdoors, while others benefit from being started gently under cover.  ‘There are many options that also thrive on being picked to be used in beautiful floral displays, but cut or not, they will fill your garden with color,’ says plantswoman and seed and plant supplier Sarah Raven (opens in new tab). 

1. Pot marigold - Calendula officinalis

Calendula officinalis, or pot marigold, is one of the quickest and easiest plants to grow from seed, and Sarah Raven recommends  ‘Indian Prince’, with its deep orange flowers with crimson backs and centres.  Sow these hardy annuals under cover now to plant out in May. They like being in the sun and will produce flowers from June to August.  ‘You can grow these flowers in a pot, too. I use them in brilliantly colored arrangements and eat the petals in salads,’ adds Sarah. They are also grown as short-lived perennials in warmer zones.

2. Cornflower – Centaurea cyanus

The annual cornflower bears pretty flowers in shades of blue. ‘I love Centaurea cyanus ‘Classic Magic’ – these lilac cornflowers look as if they’ve been sugar-iced for an incredible patisserie,’ says Sarah Raven. You can sow cornflowers under cover now or directly into your garden for flowers in June, July and August.  ‘They are loved by pollinators, brilliant as cut flowers if you’re planning a cut flower garden, and dried they make superb natural confetti or button holes. They are edible, too,’ says Sarah. These flowers grow well in average, well-drained soils in full sun to light shade, advise the experts at Missouri Botanical Garden (opens in new tab). Deadheading spent flower heads will limit the amount cornflowers self-seed, but in so doing you will also remove from the garden seeds that are loved by birds, they caution.

3. Bishop’s weed – Ammi visnaga

‘Ammi visnaga is a slightly chunkier form of ammi with dense yet delicate white and green-domed flowers. It is one of my favourite garden plants and filler foliage to grow, and is spectacular arranged in a great cloud on its own,’ says Sarah Raven. Beautiful seedheads give it a longer garden life and also look delightful arranged with dark dahlias.  ‘This needs direct sowing into the garden in early spring for flowers from June all the way through to September,’ adds Sarah. ‘Thin or transplant seedlings to 12″ (30cm) apart in richly fertile soil, and water regularly until plants are established,’ add the experts at West Coast Seeds (opens in new tab).