This Month in the Garden – February

GARDENING WITH CONFIDENCE

THIS MONTH IN THE GARDEN

Mid-Atlantic Region

February Maintenance Guide

INTRO

Before the garden season kicks into full gear, evaluate your garden with regards to sustainability. Are you doing all that you can do to reduce water, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer use? Are you composting? Are you harvesting rain water? Are you planting the right plant in the right place? Do you mulch? Are you using organic and/or mechanical means for pesticide and herbicides control, and are you using organic fertilizers? Let this be the year you consider doing all that you can do. Let this be the year you begin.

LEAVES

  • Even though you raked leaves, mowed them to reduce their size and then put them back on your garden or compost pile, there are still some around – from the neighbors, trees, etc. Take a walk around and collect leaves, old fruits, twigs, seeds, pods, all “litter,” and add to the compost pile. Doing this on a pretty day, gives you a great excuse to be out of doors.

BULBS

  • For your flowering bulbs… Now is a good time to fertilize the flowering bulbs. A general 10-10-10 is good, but there are also products made especially for flowering bulbs such as Holland brand products.

  • The greens from your bulbs are starting to emerge – don’t panic. While there is still winter ahead, the leaves do fine; they are very hardy.

PERENNIALS

  • February is a good time to cut back Liriope.  The key is not to cut it too late and risk cutting off the new growth.  The damage will not recover and can look tattered.  Also, the solid green variety spreads.  If your original design had a pattern and you want to keep that pattern (usually an alternate ‘X’ pattern), then dig out the Liriope that has spread now after it has been cut back.

  • For your Peony…you can still plant peonies.  When planting, make sure the top of the crown is just above the soil line.  Peonies need the cold to set the buds.

  • Now is the time to fertilize your flowering ornamentals.

  • Cut back ornamental grasses.

TREES AND SHRUBS

  • If you root pruned trees or shrubs last fall, now is a good time to transplant.

  • Once your winter-blooming Camellias (Camellia japonica) finish blooming; be sure to rake the fallen flower heads to discourage Camellia petal blight.

  • For your enjoyment indoors, have spring come early by bringing in branches or purchase already forced branches or bulbs.

  • It is still a good time to plant trees and shrubs. Prepare the planting hole with ample mulch. Also cover the root ball with mulch being careful not to bring the mulch right up to the trunk.

  • If you haven’t cut your butterfly bushes, do so now. Doing so controls the height, increases the flower show since butterfly bushes flower on new growth, but also protects the plant in the event of heavy wind and ice storms coating the branches too weak to support the ice.

  • Late winter is an ideal time to prune most shrubs and shrubs, so the timing couldn’t be better. Take advantage of the downtime in the garden, and prune. Careful though, learn to prune before you ruin the natural shape of your shrub.

ROSES

  • For your roses, now is a great time to plant bare root roses.  When you receive your bare root rose, unwrap the rose and  soak in water for 2-8 hours, then plant immediately or they will dry out.  Dig a hole 12-18” deep and 24” wide.  Amend the soil by adding bone meal, manure, and soil conditioner.  In the center of the hole, make a cone from the soil and spread the roots over the cone.  Back-fill the hole with soil and tamp lightly, watering in.  This helps to remove air pockets.  Cover the bush completely with mulch.  The canes should not be showing!

  • For your roses, now is a good time to do the final pruning of last season’s growth to prepare for this year’s growth – prune hybrid teas, grandiflora and floribunda roses.

FERTILIZER

  • Fertilize the flowering bulbs. A general 10-10-10 is good, but there are also products made especially for flowering bulbs such as Holland brand products Back-fill the hole with soil and tamp lightly, watering in.  This helps to remove air pockets.  Cover the bush completely with mulch. 

  • Peonies can still plant peonies.  When planting, fertilize now before the spring growth so that it will be readily available when the plant is.

MULCH

  • February is a great time to mulch. The ground has had a chance to freeze killing off fungus and some pests, and the deciduous plants have left room for an easy application. In my book, nothing compares to a fresh application of mulch. I have now converted to total composted leaf mulch. For a long time, I still used triple shredded mulch in “landscaped areas” with leaf mulch in my garden beds. But I love the color of this mulch and it adds nutrients to the soil. You do have to apply it twice a year (at least) because it breaks down faster than other mulches, but you can’t beat it.

  • For your heaving plants… Heaving is when newly planted plants (planted the previous fall) are subjected to freezing then thawing causing the plant to ‘up root.’  It is OK to adjust these plants in place and they should be fine.  It might be a good idea to add some additional mulch to reduce the likelihood of the ground freezing.

WEEDS

  • Stay on top of those winter weeds.

WATER

  • Remember to water new plantings in the absence of rain.

WILDLIFE

  • Don’t forget to enjoy your birds. Putting feeders out where you can enjoy from the warmth of indoors, benefits you and the birds.
  • Birds need a water supply in the winter, if you can invest in a bird bath heater – you won’t be disappointed.

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4 Comments »

  1. Great list of chores — I’m tired already! You’re about 2 weeks warmer (I know that sounds strange) than here. When we worked in Cary, the azaleas and cherry trees bloomed two weeks ahead of ours. So– can I be a slacker for two more weeks, Helen? 🙂

    Cameron

  2. I’m working on the weeds! I’m going to be organic with my new home( my current home), I’m still trying to get the leaf mulch down cause it’s been to wet, and ditto to everything else.

  3. […] Before the garden season kicks into full gear, evaluate your garden with regards to sustainability. See the original post here: This Month in the Garden – February « Gardening With Confidence ™ […]

  4. Cameron, you and slacker can never be used in the same sentence!

    Here, inside the beltline of Raleigh, we do have the effect of radiant heat. Go downtown and you will see another week’s difference. I am surprised it is a 2 week difference from Raleigh to Chapel Hill. However you are in the country in open land.

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