March is the first month of autumn, though the new season doesn’t officially begin until 21st March. Still pretty mild, there’s no reason to pack away your pruners just yet as there are a wealth of plants to sow and tend to at this time of year. To help you choose wisely, we’ve rounded up a list of plants perfect for growing in March in each state and territory of Australia.
Climate can vary greatly around Australia, particularly in the tropical North, so be sure to check our suggestions suit the specific area in which you live before planting.
Occurring mainly in the east and south-east of Australia, the evergreen alpine bottlebrush bears small flower spikes and lance-shaped leaves that give off a distinct citrus smell, making this a great choice for a fragrant summer garden. This native woody shrub makes an excellent garden plant and will be irresistible to nectar-feeding birds and insects that are drawn to its long tendrils of creamy yellow flowers. The alpine bottlebrush grows well in a wide variety of soils; best positioned in full sunlight, and can be used to create a natural hedge, privacy screen or border to divide your outside space.
This striking perennial with golden globe-shaped flowers and slender silver foliage is excellent for growing as a cut flower. In hot climates, like that of the Northern Territory, the seeds of this wild flower can be sown at any time of year in moist but well drained soil, positioned in full sun or partial shade. Also aptly referred to as ‘drumsticks’ or ‘woolly heads’, craspedia is native to Australia – a relation of the daisy family – and can be seen blooming throughout the year in warm climates.
This pretty plant will thrive in an area that replicates its native hot Mediterranean climate, which makes WA an excellent choice. With full sunlight, good drainage and regular dead-heading, geraniums will happily thrive, rewarding gardeners with brightly coloured flowers year-round. There are many scented varieties boasting aromas of ginger, rose, orange, lemon and much more when the leaves are rubbed or crushed, perfect for making herbal teas or to flavour vinegars and syrups.
New South Wales
Australian grass tree
This classic Australian native plant is spread out across New South Wales and is ideal to sow at this time of year when the weather is warm but not too hot. Well known as a ‘tough as old boots’ plant, it can withstand drought, fire, cold and heat. Over time the tree produces a large black trunk, long narrow leaves and spikes of striking flowers that can grow up to two metres in length. Once established it does well to take care of itself, only requiring water around once per fortnight during the wet season, and twice per week in the dry season. Choose an open, sunny position with good drainage when planting, ensuring there is as much soil as possible around the roots.
Australian Capital Territory
Asters fill gardens with colour come autumn thanks to their daisy-like blooms boasting glorious hues of pinks and purples. They are ready to be sown under cover in ACT at this time of year, before being planted out in the main garden in early May. The genus name is derived from the Latin word for star, and historically the flower has featured in many Greek and Roman myths. Very frost resistant and cold hardy, perennial asters are well suited to the cooler climes of ACT over autumn and winter. They prefer to grow in well-drained fertile soil in an open, sunny location.
Now is the time to plant bulbs such as daffodils which flourish in cool, temperate climates, ideally suited to Tasmania. It is said these colourful blooms herald the arrival of spring as gardeners eagerly anticipate their emergence from the soil at the end of winter, providing a source of inspiration to many poets and storytellers throughout history. Ideally planted in an area with full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil, bulbs can survive on rain water alone, ideal for South Australia and Tasmania where winter rainfall is reliable. Daffodils can also be grown in pots and planted out in your chosen area once in bloom.
The slightly cooler climate of Victoria in winter creates ideal growing conditions for primulas. Native to the temperate northern hemisphere, this easy-to-grow perennial takes its name from the Italian word for spring, aptly named as their cheery tubular flowers bloom at the end of winter, bringing pretty hues of yellow, pink and lilac to rockeries and beds. When planting, choose a cool, shady part of the garden with humus-rich, well-drained soil, and water the area well after planting, spreading mulch around the plants to help keep moisture in.
St Patrick’s Day on 17th March marks the traditional date for sowing fragrant sweet peas throughout much of Australia. These spring-flowering annuals will fill your garden with colour and scent, rewarding gardeners with gorgeous pastel shades of pink, purple, blue and cream. Best grown in an open sunny spot with good soil drainage, it is important to offer support, such as a trellis, if sowing a climbing variety. Sweet peas thrive in sweet soil, so it is worth adding some lime before planting. These horticultural jewels will add a touch of romance to any garden bed with their soft colours and strong perfume. Come winter they will start to bloom and by spring they can be cut and brought inside for a beautiful bouquet.