Pittsburgh Planting Tips for This Season

Spring is finally tiptoeing back into Pittsburgh, and with some careful planning and a pair of steady hands, it’s time for local green thumbs to get out there and connect with the earth once again. March can be a bit of a fickle time for planting, with winter reluctant to release its grip, but there’s still much to be done to prep for a lush garden.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a first-time gardener, the following advice will help ensure your March planting efforts blossom into garden success.

The Pittsburgh Garden: Preparing for Spring Bloom

Early Spring Vegetables

When temperatures start to rise, it’s time to give your vegetable garden a jumpstart. Choose hardy varieties that can withstand lingering cold spells, such as peas, lettuce, kale, and spinach. For a head start on the season, consider starting seeds indoors or in a greenhouse until the soil warms up for transplanting.

Peas: Plant peas directly outside in well-drained soil with full sun. Erect trellises or other supports at the time of planting, as peas are climbers.
Lettuce and Spinach: Sow seeds for these leafy greens in rows about a foot apart. Keep the soil moist to promote quick germination.

Root Vegetables: Early March is the perfect time to sow seeds for radishes, beets, and carrots. These root veggies do well in the cool, damp soil typical of the Pittsburgh spring.

Perennials for Early Blooms

For a pop of color before your annuals are even in the ground, consider planting early-blooming perennials. Crocuses and daffodils are particularly well-suited for these early days of spring, injecting a touch of cheer and a hint of warmer days to come.

Crocuses: These hardy bulbs can be planted in the fall for a welcome sight in late winter or early spring. If you missed the fall planting window, don’t worry—March is a great time to get them into the ground for next year.

Daffodils: Another fearless bloomer, daffodils are among the first to make their appearance. They require very little care and naturalize beautifully over the years.

Alyssum: An annual favorite that can be started indoors or sown directly. This delicate flower provides great ground cover and will attract early pollinators to your garden.

Cool-Season Flowers

Though it’s not quite time for summery blooms, March is the perfect month for cool-weather flowers that thrive in the Pittsburgh climate.
Pansies: These cheerful flowers love the cool spring air and put on quite a show. Plant them in a sunny spot and keep them well-watered for vibrant colors.

Snapdragons: Add some color and dimensions! They come in a range of colors and put on their best show in the cooler temperatures of spring.
Sweet Peas: Sow sweet pea seeds now for a delicate fragrance and a profusion of blossoms in late spring. Make sure to provide a trellis or other support for these climbing flowers.

Pittsburgh-Specific Planting Tips

Climate Considerations

March can be unpredictable in terms of weather, and Pittsburgh is no exception. Keep an eye on the forecast and be prepared to protect your new plants from frost or unexpected cold snaps. Cover young seedlings with cloches or row covers, and water the soil thoroughly before a cold night to help retain heat.

Soil Preparation

Aerating and amending your soil is crucial to ensure a healthy foundation for your plants. Work compost into the top couple of inches of soil to improve drainage and add nutrients. If the ground is still frozen or too wet, use this time to plan out your garden beds and decide what to plant where.

Planting Schedule

Use the first part of March to start seeds indoors, making sure to label them properly. Mid-March is often the right time to start hardier seeds outdoors but always refer to individual plant instructions for the best results. Towards the end of the month, you can begin hardening off indoor plants to prepare them for transplanting.

Seasonal Care Tips

Watering and Fertilizing Guidelines

Pay attention to your new plants’ needs when it comes to water. During establishment, they will need regular, thorough watering, but be cautious not to over-water in the cool, wet Pittsburgh spring. A light dose of a balanced fertilizer can be applied to seedlings once they have a pair of true leaves.

Pest and Disease Management

Keep an eye out for signs of pests or diseases. Early intervention is key, so carefully inspect your plants every day. If using pesticides or fungicides, be sure to read labels and follow safety instructions in the letter.

Maintenance Practices

Keep your garden tidy as the season progresses. Remove any dead leaves or plant matter to prevent diseases and discourage pests. Prune your plants as needed, and watch for signs of overcrowding that might require thinning out seedlings.

Must-Have Gardening Supplies for a Bountiful Season

No garden is complete without the proper tools and supplies. Make sure to stock up on the following essentials for a successful gardening season:

  • Gardening gloves
  • Hand trowel
  • Pruning shears
  • Watering can or hose
  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch or compost

Don’t forget a hat, bug spray, and sunscreen to keep yourself safe while you craft your perfect garden!

Phelps Nursery USC for All Your Gardening Needs

With these planting and care tips, Pittsburgh gardeners can kick off their spring gardening with confidence and ambition. Remember to take advantage of the unique offerings of your local garden centers. Whether you have questions about specific plants, need some motivation, or are looking for a unique gardening solution, the friendly staff at Phelps Nursery USC can help make this your best gardening season yet.

In March, the earth is softening, and the days are growing longer. It’s a time of renewal and positive growth in both the literal and figurative sense. The more effort you put into your March planting, the more rewards you’ll reap throughout the spring and summer. Here’s to a season of vibrant gardens in Pittsburgh and the sustenance of both body and soul that they offer.

Visit our greenhouse in Upper St. Clair for all your gardening needs!