Monthly Garden Calendar for Florida

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Andres Mejides



March ushers in our tropical growing season. It's still possible to get some cool weather, but the really cold temperatures should be over. A wise gardener, however, is always prepared to bring in or otherwise protect tender seedlings.

Many tropical trees are blooming. One of my favorites is the Golden Trumpet (Tabebuia argentea, aka Silver Trumpet), with its masses of yellow flowers. Even when not in flower, its corky bark and unusual, almost "bonsai" shape make it an interesting attraction. The light olive leaves harmonize well with most landscapes.

South Florida is the first stop for many bird species after spending the winter in the Caribbean or Latin America. The flight across the Straits of Florida is long, so the birds arrive very tired and in need of refueling. Some will stay until fall, others will continue northward as weather permits. Be sure to provide them with clean water. Many people plant rue near bird feeders and baths. The smell of rue is said to repel cats. Be warned, though, that some people are skin sensitive to rue.

Poinsettia Finished Blooming? Cut it back to promote branching. Our climate and latitude are ideal for growing them outdoors. If you have a potted one and wish to plant it outside, be sure to place it where it will receive no light after dark (i.e., from a porch light or a streetlight) or it may not bloom next season.

Thirsty Plants. We're still in the dry season and March winds make matters worse. Check plants often for dehydration. A thick layer of mulch and a drip irrigation system will keep your plants happy and conserve water.

Experiment with New Varieties. Dare to try some cucurbits, such as cucumbers, squash, and zucchini? If they're quick-maturing varieties, you may luck out and get a good harvest before the insect and disease explosion of the hot season makes them hard to keep alive.

It's Warming Up! Begin replacing your cool-weather annuals with warm weather ones.

Mower Maintenance. Change the oil and air filter in your mower—a well-maintained mower runs cleaner and more efficiently. Get the blade sharpened, too.