February in the Garden
WHAT TO PLANT
--Vegetables: Vegetables that can be planted in February include beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, celery, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, endive/escarole, English peas, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, onions-both bunching and multiplier, peppers, potatoes, pumpkin, squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, radishes, tomatoes, turnips and watermelons. Protect crops in the unlikely event of a frost or freeze. See Vegetable Gardening in Florida.
Start seeds for March planting: including beans, beets, cantaloupes, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, English peas, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, okra, onions (bunching and multipliers), peppers, pumpkins, Southern peas, squash, sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, turnips and watermelon.
--Annual Flowers: Alyssum, dianthus, pansy, petunia, Johnny-jump-up, phlox, stock, flowering kale snapdragons ageratum, alyssum, aster, baby’s breath, begonia, browallia, cosmos, dusty miller, gazania, geranium, hollyhock, lobelia, marguerite daisy, pansy, periwinkle, petunia, snapdragon, verbena. Herbs: Basil, comfrey, chervil, chives, dill, fennel, parsley, sweet marjoram, mint, sage, and thyme.
--Bulbs: A good time to plant bulbs. Divide large, crowded clumps. Provide adequate water for establishment. Bulbs that can be planted this month include; Agapanthus, Amazon lily (Eucharis grandiflora), Aztec lily (Sprekelia formosissima), caladium, canna, dahlia, gladiolus, gloriosa lily, kaffir lily (Clivia minata), walking iris (Neomarica gracilis), rainlily (Zepheranthus spp.), lily, African iris (Moraea spp.), society garlic (Tulbaghiaviolacea), Tritonia (T. crocata), tuberose (Policanthes tuberose), Watsonia (W. spp.) and spider lily (Hymenocallis spp.) See Bulbs for Florida.
--Groundcovers: Consider replacing areas of grass with drought-tolerant, low-maintenance groundcovers. See The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design and Ground Covers.
WHAT TO DO
--Lawns: Fertilize lawn grasses to improve color or coverage. Avoid using weed and feed and never use it near palm trees. A fertilizer with controlled-release nitrogen provides longer-lasting results. Apply a pre-emergent weed killer (not a “weed and feed”) to lawns this month to prevent germination of warm-season weed seeds. Apply when temperatures rise to 65°F for 4–5 days. Timing is important for good control. If your lawn has browned out from cold continue to water it once a week. Don’t expect the grass to, or try to make it, green up until we get longer days and warmer temperatures. Check turf for problems especially fungus, which is rampant because of cooler weather coupled with high humidity.
--Shrubs: Fertilize shrubs by spreading fertilizer evenly over the soil surface and watering it in. Follow with a fresh layer of mulch to conserve moisture and reduce weeds. See Landscape Fertilization
Citrus and other fruit trees: Fertilize now if not done in January. Frequency and amount of fertilization depend on the age of the tree. See Home Citrus Culture and Temperate Fruit for the Home Landscape. Check citrus trees for scab disease. Apply a copper fungicide when new leaves appear and again when two-thirds of the flower blossoms have fallen. See Home Citrus Culture
--Prunning: Prune fig trees if necessary. Removing some of the older wood will increase new growth. Only choose three to five main trunks. Remove all small competing stems from the base and thin out any limbs that are rubbing or crisscrossing. Prune off up to one-third of last year’s growth during this pruning. After the pruning is complete add new mulch to maintain a four-inch layer. Other plants that should be pruned now are deciduous plants such as crape myrtles (this is if you haven’t already pruned them back) and grape vines. Only prune deciduous plants when they are dormant and bare of foliage. Pruning can be done any time before the vines begin to sprout new buds. Don’t over-prune crape myrtles. See “Stop Crape Murder!”
Mid-month is a good time to prune hybrid rose bushes. Choose 4 to 5 main canes to form the new shrub and prune off the others. Then, cut the main canes back a third of the way. Also, remove any dead, damaged or twiggy growth back to the main cane. New blooms should appear in about 45 days. -
-Landscape and Vegetable Garden: Check for any diseased, insect infested, or old and non-producing plants and remove them. Spread some organic matter like compost, aged manure or coffee grounds over the ground to enrich the soil for new plantings.