March is when many eager gardeners sow their first seeds of the year. By the time spring officially begins on March 20, many North American regions have already seen their last frost.
Even in colder climates, cold-hardy favorites like broccoli and kale can be safely sown or moved outdoors. Other plants can be started indoors to wait out the year’s last remnants of winter.
Which plants can you start growing in the month of March? That depends, of course, on your regional climate and other local growing conditions.
Your expected last frost date is especially important. Only start plants outdoors if you know that the last frost has passed or that the plant is frost-tolerant.
In this guide, we’ll highlight some veggies, flowers, shrubs, and trees that are viable early spring planting options throughout much of North America.
To decide which species are good choices for your garden or patio, learn about your hardiness zone. Then, make sure that the plants you’d like to work with are viable in your region. Before buying seeds or starters, review each variety’s specific planting recommendations.
Flowers to Plant in March
If you already started some seedlings in February, you can move them into pots in March. Flower seedlings are typically ready to move from trays to pots around three weeks after sprouting or when you can see the roots extending out of the container.
For most flowers in most places, seed sowing before or during March should occur indoors to avoid exposure to frost.
Perennials you can start indoors in March include:
- Shasta Daisy: this cheerful, easy-to-grow garden favorite is also a great source of cut flowers
- Calla Lilies: an elegant flowering houseplant that can be kept indoors permanently or moved outdoors after the last frost
- Blanket Flower: brilliant, fiery, yellow and red flowers that can be started indoors in March or sown in the grown after the last frost
- Columbines: compact plants with large flowers, available in a wide range of hues
Annuals you can start indoors in March include:
- Zinnias: perfect for window boxes and baskets, and a terrific flower for attracting butterflies
- Pansies: classic flower garden favorites that do well in cooler climates
- Petunias: beautiful trumpet flower blooms with artistic stripes and rims; petunias are perennials that are typically treated as annuals
- Impatiens: excellent flowers for planting as large, dense masses to fill a garden space with color
Seeds to Sow Directly in the Ground in March
Some cold-hardy flowers can be sown directly into the ground before the last frost date. These include:
- Calendulas: produce dense and intricate discs that are beautiful and long-lasting in vases or bouquets
- Dianthus: diverse flower family, known for long-lasting and prolific blooms
- Peonies: textured, lovely flowers that provide a garden with an extra touch of elegance
Vegetables to Plant in March
Some of the most popular garden veggies are very cold-tolerant and can be planted before the last frost date. In many areas, gardeners can direct-sow (plant in the ground) many veggies in March, including:
- Broccoli and cauliflower
- Lettuce, spinach, and kale
- Brussels sprouts
Keep in mind that popular veggies come in an enormous range of varieties, including types that are specialized for different regions and different times of the year. Always carefully read seed package labels in order to know that particular variety’s planting timeline.
Trees, Shrubs, and Bushes to Plant in March
Fall is the best season for planting many shrubs, but springtime is often a viable alternative. The difference is the level of stress placed on a tree or shrub planted in spring. You’ll want to be sure to water well if you’re having a dry spring and during the heat of summer, until the plant is well-established.
Once you see evidence that your tree or shrub is growing well and producing new growth, you can probably let rain do the watering naturally. A few easy-to-grow and wide-ranging shrubs that can be planted in March include:
Dogwood (Cornus species)
Dogwood is a deciduous shrub that is known for its colorful flowers and attractive bark. It is a popular choice for gardens due to its ability to adapt to a range of soil types and its resistance to pests and diseases. It grows well in partial shade to full sun and can reach heights of up to 20 feet.
Holly (Ilex species)
Holly is an evergreen shrub with glossy, dark green leaves and bright red berries. It is a popular choice for hedges and foundation plantings due to its ability to withstand shearing and shaping. Holly grows well in partial shade to full sun.
Boxwood (Buxus species)
Boxwood is an evergreen shrub with small, glossy leaves and a dense, compact habit. It is often used for hedges and topiaries due to its ability to withstand pruning and shaping. It grows well in partial shade to full sun.
Fall is also the recommended season for planting most trees. However, springtime is appropriate for planting trees that need extra time to develop before facing their first winters. Tree planting recommendations are highly variable based on region, but examples of trees that can be put in the ground in March include:
Willow (Salix species)
Willow trees are known for their fast growth and ability to thrive in wet soils. They are a good candidate for spring planting as they can quickly establish roots and start providing shade and privacy.
Magnolia (Magnolia species)
Magnolia trees are a popular choice for spring planting; they are also relatively low maintenance and can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions.
Pine (Pinus species)
Pine trees are a good choice for spring planting as they are hardy and young trees can withstand cold temperatures and late frosts. They are also resistant to pests and diseases, making them a low maintenance option.
Fruit trees (Malus and Prunus species)
Many types of fruit trees, such as apple, cherry, and peach, can be planted in the spring. Planting fruit trees in the spring allows them to establish roots and start growing before the hot summer weather arrives.
Getting to Know Your Local Gardening Seasons
While you may be able to put some seeds or starters in the ground in March, for many gardeners this month is more about planning ahead. Typical early spring tasks include pruning, ordering seeds and supplies, prepping soil and beds, and starting seedlings indoors.
As you get to know your local gardening seasons, one of the most important concepts to understand is last frost dates. If you’re not yet sure how to navigate the winter-to-spring transition, check out this guide: Your Last Frost Date – What You Need to Know.