February in the Garden
TIME TO PLANT
• Start seeds now for March planting.
• Annuals - Ageratum, alyssum, aster, baby’s breath, Begonia, Browallia, Cosmos, Dusty miller, Gazania, Geranium, Hollyhock, Lobelia, Marguerite daisy, pansy, periwinkle, Petunia, snapdragon, and Verbena.
• Perennials & Bulbs - Day lilies, African iris, blood lily, Caladium, Canna, Lilium, shell ginger, tiger flower, Potted flowering perennials can be planted any time of the year. Day lilies are great because they so easy to care for.
• Fruit Trees - Plant bare root apple, peach, pear, pecan, persimmon and blueberries by late February. Do not fertilize at planting time.
• Citrus- Fertilize in February or March with a citrus fertilizer, using 1 pound per year of age of the tree. Spread evenly under branch spread. Keep mulch, weeds and grass away from citrus trunks.
• Prune summer or fall flowering shrubs (hibiscus, thryallis, plumbago, powderpuff, etc.) In late February or early March to promote flowering on new growth.
• Prune poinsettias and holiday mum plants before setting into the landscape.
• If deciduous trees and shrubs need pruning, wait until after new growth begins to avoid cold damage to new growth that will follow. Ex. Sweet gum, maple, crape myrtle, elm, peach, apple, pear, pecan and persimmon. LANDSCAPE
• Fertilize landscape plants and fruit trees in late February with a general-purpose fertilizer with slow release nitrogen. Use one pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet of lawn and landscape planting.
• Watch for scale insects, which seem to multiply at the same time new growth is maturing. Monitor at least weekly for pests and disease problems. • Use soap and oil sprays when soft insects war detected (scales, white fly, spider mites, thrips, aphids, mealy bugs). Use 2½ tablespoons each of baby shampoo and vegetable oil in a gallon of water. Repeat spray in 5 days and then as needed.
• Apply crabgrass seed preventer in mid-February to keep seedlings from invading weak lawns.
• Check and repair sprinkler system. Calibrate sprinklers to apply about ¾” of water each time you water. Only water lawn when 30-40% of grass blades begin to wilt and turn blue/gray.
Sally Scalera has urged Master Gardeners to try snapping off seed bearing blooms on weeds and leaving weeds in place. The theory is that pulling weeds up by the roots disturbs the soil increasing chances that seeds lying on the surface will germinate. It seems to work and is an easy way to control weeds with stubborn roots. To stay ahead of weeds zap them while they’re young, before they flower and go to seed. Spray weeds growing in cracks in driveways and sidewalks with full-strength white or cider vinegar. Aim for the center with a first shot and the base with a second to attack the roots. Sprinkling baking soda or salt in the cracks is equally effective and eliminates the risk of vinegar spray damaging grass or other plants. Baking soda applied generously to dampened crabgrass in the lawn will slowly kill it, but avoid the surrounding turf. Baking soda mixed with an equal amount of flour will discourage caterpillars from munching on leaves of collards, kale, cabbage and other plants. It will also control the spread of powdery mildew, which affects many plants. Crape myrtle, English ivy, cucurbits (squashes, melons, cucumbers, gourds) are especially susceptible. If you see grayish white patches on leaves remove them and then spray the plant with a mixture of: 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and 1 tablespoon of baby shampoo in a gallon of water.
"The theory is that pulling weeds up by the roots disturbs the soil increasing chances that seeds lying on the surface will germinate."