March is Coming in Like a Lion


March is a month of contrasts, as the earth tilts on it’s axis and the sun lights and warms the land that had been held in long dark hours.  Plants wake up from winter dormancy and winds stir the air.  Often strong winds.  Sunny hot days are followed by rainy cool ones.  So much contrast!  There is even a saying about this tumultuous weather.

If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.

The partridge breast aloe (from South Africa) is in full glorious bloom under the dormant and leafless native acacia.

Is there any truth to this saying? Weather sayings are as colorful as our imagination! Many sayings are based on careful observations and are indeed accurate, yet others seem to be there just to put a positive spin on the slings and arrows of fortune.  The idea with this saying is that there will be a balance to life and to weather too.  Thus, if a month starts with adverse weather or roaring like a lion, it should go out and calm and docile, like a lamb.  Checking with the weather service, they reveal that this is just one of those optimistic sayings to cheer gardeners and farmers.

Brittlebush getting ready to bloom.


March is Full of Contrasts

Along with shifts and contrasts in weather, there are contrasts with our plants. A look around the garden on the first of March and I could see that many plants were recovering from the winter cold while other plants were suffering from the unseasonable heat. Such different reactions! This underscores one of the great things about our wonderful region – we are living in a place where the plants from radically different climates can be grown.

For general March garden tips, see my March Gardening Calendar – here.
Cilantro has started to bloom. Soon it’s life will be over.
In the Herb Garden

Planted in October, the annual winter herbs (originally from northern Europe) including parsley, cilantro, dill, fennel, and caraway are all beginning to end their lives.  They bloom, set seed, and die.  This year they are wilting in the drying wind and unseasonably warm sun. Usually they last into late April, but I believe that this year they have two, maybe three weeks before they are done for the year.

Meanwhile – the perennial herbs that are native here, such as desert lavender and Mexican oregano, have tiny buds and are getting ready to leaf out.


Creosote flower buds getting ready to burst into bloom.

Sonoran desert natives are are breaking dormancy earlier than normal, leafing out, and growing. In some cases, they may have never gone fully dormant, while others drop all their leaves and rest for the winter.

Native perennials like brittle bush and penstemons have flower petals peeking out of the buds. Some of the non-natives trees are in flower bud as well, including citrus, plums, and mulberry. The jujube is holding back a bit, but I expect blooms soon.

Mesquite leafing out. Others never lost their leaves.

Eight years ago, we planted five mesquite trees from 5 gallon pots – all at the same time and all from the same nursery.  Some loose their leaves in winter, some do not. One has grown into a lovely giant, the others are jut now starting to grow.  Just goes to show you that genetics can be highly variable in all trees grown from seed.

As for the date palms? They just want to get out of their pot and into the ground already! Sorry to say that task will have to wait until we can get a fenced area ready for them. They are well-watered in their pot yet would make a juicy snack for the neighborhood javalina if they were not protected.

The pomegranate is leafing out now – protected from the hungry javalina in our fenced yard.

March roared in like a lion with some heat and wind.  Here is hoping it goes meekly on it’s way for the rest of the month.


If you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my free lectures that I mention on my Gardening With Soule Facebook page. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including Month by Month Gardening for Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol may get a few pennies.

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