February in the Garden

Fight the urge to prune plants that have been damaged by cold. Limit pruning to removing damaged and unsightly foliage. Don’t cut back any woody stems or branches until spring comes and new growth is produced. If you have plumeria that have been hit by the cold, watch the growing tip. If it appears to be rotting cut it off low enough to cut through a sound part of the stem.

  • Something you can prune now is your fig tree, if it needs it. 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 could or should be pruned now are deciduous plants such as crape myrtles and grape vines. Only prune deciduous plants when they are dormant and bare. Pruning can be done any time before the vines begin to sprout new buds.

  • Mid-month is a good time to prune hybrid rose bushes. Choose 4-5 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.

  • If your lawn has browned out from the cold just continue to water it once a week and celebrate the fact that you won’t need to mow again for quite a while. Don’t expect the grass to, or try to make it, green up again until we get longer days and warmer temperatures.

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.

Flowers to plant now include alyssum, dianthus, pansy, petunia, Johnny-jump-up, phlox, stock, flowering kale, and snapdragons.

Some herbs to plant now include basil, comfrey, chervil, chives, dill, fennel, parsley, sweet marjoram, mint, sage, and thyme.

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 (Tulbaghia violacea), Tritonia (T. crocata), tuberose (Policanthes tuberose), Watsonia (W. spp.) and spider lily (Hymenocallis spp.)

Vegetable seeds that can be sown in February for planting in March include beans, beets, cantaloupes, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, English peas, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, okra, onions - bunching & multipliers, peppers, pumpkins, Southern peas, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, watermelon.

Prune poinsettias back when blooms begin to fade. Cut the stems to about two feet from the ground and fertilize with ½ to 1 cup of 6-6-6. Also, apply one to two teaspoons of Epsom salts to supply magnesium.

Damage Control

If your landscaping has been affected by dips below 32 degrees:

- Wait to determine the extent of the cold damage before pruning; some plants need weeks to show damage.

- Keep the soil moist but do not over water.

- Withhold fertilizer until the scheduled feeding in late February or March.

- Trim affected portions from container grown foliage plants and move them to a warmer location.

- Mow lawns as needed to remove new growth and control weeds; do not encourage growth.

- Feeding time for lawns is March.

- Begin pruning all hardy and dormant plants as normal during winter.

- Continue to plant hardy trees, shrubs, ground covers and perennials.

- Remove affected warm season vegetables and replant with cool season crops.

- Keep the cold protection handy.

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