February Garden Tips
This is often our rainiest month, but don't complain! We need all the wet stuff we can get. Rain waters trees and shrubs deeply and pushes harmful mineral salts down through the soil. If rains don't materialize, irrigate deeply, though sprinklers are never as thorough as soaking rains. Days are still short and nights often cold, but you can smell the first blossoms of spring.
Trimming this Month:
Many palms are putting out seeds batches now. The seeds can become messy and a nuisance if left on the tree to fall off naturally. Garden View Crews will often remove the clusters at this time of year. There is no negative effect on the tree.
At Garden View Landscape Maintenance we trim large shrubs that bloom from the end of their new growth this month. We cut back Oleander very far so that it does not need trimming again for most of the year. (When you trim Oleander you cut off all the flowers).
For the same reason as Oleander, we usually trim mature Bougainvilleas very hard late in the month (after chance of frost has past). Our customers are sometimes shocked at the temporarily sparse looking plant but the prolonged bloom is worth it.
Calistemon "Little John" prune after flowering or before spring growth remove weak and dead branches , do not cut into bare wood beyond leave , plants may not re-sprout. This is a very water-wise plant that can withstand waterlogged soil. Garden View likes this water-wise shrub because it can be kept below 3 feet high.
Azaleas & Camellias
dead head camellias (right) to stop petal blight and azaleas to look good
Buddleia Davidii trim back heavily to allow for fast spring growth
If you have not trimmed your Salvia leucantha (right) yet it is a good time to do it.
Prune old flower heads off Hydrangeas (left). Remove the upper third of each stem, but not any lower for the largest blooms this spring. The best blooms come from growth from last years healthy stems. To get the largest blooms reduce the number of flower stems. Otherwise you will get many blooms of smaller size.
Prune Tagetes lucida (right) this time of month. Generally we cut in half.
Prune back hard in January or February to keep compact.
Prune in February to keep shape and on occasion remove oldest stems to encourage strong new growth
Vinca minor and Vincor major
Do not trim in February or March so that you can enjoy the flowers. If Bees are a problem for you trim the ground covers to reduce blooms and bees
Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’
(right) should be pruned now.
Cut back Coreopsis (left)
Cut back Fuchsia (right)
Also cut back Verbina - groundcover (left)
Plastic root guards and bamboo barriers will help Keep creeping bamboo in its place. (These Barriers are available at Garden View Nursery). It is important that the barrier be placed 1 inch above grade. In January some bamboo runners will try to grow over the top of the barrier. Simply cut them off and remember to do this every January. If you have not done this yet do not procrastinate!
This is the time of year to dig up and split Bamboo. Many varieties can only be done this time of year. At Garden View Nursery we are canning up many different varieties of Bamboo. Remember to use root or bamboo barriers to contain varieties that send out runners or you will be sorry.
DO NOT CUT BACK
Most plants that bloom mostly in early spring. This includes Lavender (right)
Achillea - Yarrow (left) should only be cleaned up and not pruned severely.
Check swales on hills, clean obstructions, and check drains. Protect hillsides and use common sense to check for issues that may create slope erosion. Check any sump pumps, gutters, and drains.
Crab Grass Control on Lawns
This is your last chance to control crabgrass with a pre-emergent herbicide (Herbicides that kill the weed seeds before or as they emerge). As with all chemicals read the directions and follow them exactly.
If you have a crabgrass problem on your lawn it generally indicates you are over-watering. Crabgrass seeds generally germinate in the top ¼” of soil. If the top ¼” of soil is allowed to dry out regularly, (which it should) than the seed can not survive. We at Garden View believe that daily watering of your lawn is counter productive and a waste of water.
There is still time to set out annuals from nursery flats, six-packs, or 4” pots. Look for Calendula, Cineraria, Delphinium, Dianthus, English Daisies, Iceland Poppies, Lobelia, Stock, and Sweet Alyssum. If you are near the coast, Primroses, Pansies, and Violas are good choices.
Plant Azaleas and Camellias
Now is the best time to plant or transplant most varieties; the strongest growth comes just after the flowers have faded. Older Azaleas that have outgrown their planting hole and/or Azaleas that have serious signs of chlorosis (right) (a very common problem) that are not corrected by adding Iron may benefit from being dug up and replanted in a bed of 60% peat moss, 20% compost and 20% native soil. Be careful transplanting Camellias and don’t be too disappointed if they don’t survive the transplant; Garden View has not been very successful with transplanting them. Our success rate is about 40% survival.
In another month plants will be potted up and more expensive. Whatever bare-root plant you buy, be sure it is fully dormant and shows no sign of drying out. Look for Artichokes, Fruit trees, Grapes, Rhubarb, Roses, and Strawberries.
It is time to start tuberous Begonias. Nursery supplies are substantial and fresh now. Other bulbs to look for are Caladium, Calla Lily (left), Canna, Crocosmia Dahlia, Gloxinia, and Tigridia, and it is not too late for gladiolus. Keep in mind that when the bulbs are finished you are going to have bare space that will need planting.
This month, you can plant started seedlings of Broccoli, Celery, Chives, Lettuce, and Onions. Set out seed Potatoes. It’s still to early for warm season vegetables such as Eggplant, Peppers, and Tomatoes. Continue sowing seeds of Carrots, Kohlrabi and Radishes every other week for continuous harvest..
Azaleas and camellias flowers need to be cut as they fade. It's necessary on azaleas, because dead azalea flowers hang on and look ugly. It's necessary on camellias to prevent spreading of petal blight, a fungus disease that rots camellia flowers and turns them brown and mushy.
Most warm-season lawns, such as Bermuda grass and St. Augustine, are dormant now and need no winter care. However, cool-season grasses, such as Hybrid Fescues (Marathon), still require mowing and periodic light feeding. Water as needed when winter rains do not provide adequate moisture. This also lessens the incidence of fungal rust disease.
This is a good time to split perennials such as Agapanthus, Day Lilies, Society Garlic (right), Moreas (Fortnight lilies), etc. Water the plants a day or two before splitting them.
Prime Deciduous Plants
before spring growth appears, prune winter dormant plants such as Berries, most Fruit Trees, Grapes, Roses and Vines. At months end, cut back Fuchsias. Don’t prune flowering shrubs or fruit trees such as Cherry Peach and Plum until flowers fade in late spring.
Spray Dormant Plants
If black spot, leaf curl, mildew, scab or scale affected your roses or fruit trees last year, apply a dormant spray this month. Use sprays containing fixed copper for leaf curl or mildew; try one with lime sulfur for black spot, leaf curl or scab. Use horticultural oils for scale and eggs of over wintering pests. Check the product’s label for cautions.
If you haven't gotten around to planting roses, deciduous fruit trees, grapes and berries, do so early in the month while they are still available bare root. If roses at nurseries have already broken their dormancy and new growth is elongated or nearly white from lack of light, gently snap it off and plant. Secondary buds quickly take their places. Finish up any dormant pruning or spraying.
Weed it or Weep
Rains and irrigation’s encourage lots of winter weeds. Hoe them out before they get too big or begin to scatter seed. At this point, simply scrape them off with a scuffle hoe, early in the morning on a sunny day, so weeds quickly dry out. Though it's tempting to toss weeds in the compost pile, don't -you'll just be spreading weed seeds all over the garden.
If there are any bare spots in the garden where you would like spring color, don't hesitate to pop in plants already in bloom at nurseries, in four-inch or quart pots. Pansies are particularly long-lived and, planted now, last into early summer. This is also a great month to plant those towering delphiniums from babies in four-inch pots.
In the shade, tuberous begonias provide the brightest colors and biggest flowers. Start them from tubers now (you can also buy them as plants later on). Set them in a flat filled with soil amendment, leaving the upper half above the soil, then transplant when they have a few leaves.
These orchid blooms last longer given a little extra shade while in flower. Move them back into good light when they finish, fertilize every month between now and September, and water often. To flower well they must have enough sun to turn leaves slightly yellow. When plants get within an inch of pot sides, divide and repot, a job best done immediately after flowering stops.
Too Early for Tomatoes?
Wait until April or May to plant most tomatoes. In warmer areas, from Pasadena to Santa Ana, it's OK to plant 'Early Girl' toward the end of the month. Expect fruit by Memorial Day.
As your strawberries become ripe pick the ripest ones every day or two to prolong the harvest season. If you let the Strawberries spoil on the plant it will encourage them to stop producing. Feed the plants periodically with a balanced plant food.
Fertilize Cool Season Lawns, Perennials. Roses
Feed Fruit Trees
Several weeks before blooming begins is the traditional time to fertilize established deciduous fruit trees, such as apple and peach. Scatter any high-nitrogen granular fertilizer under the tree, making sure to spread it evenly over the entire root area (roots spread at least as wide as the top of the tree). Hope that rains carry it into the soil, or water in with a sprinkler.
Fertilize citrus and avocados toward the end of the month; only use a citrus fertilizer that contains trace elements such as iron.
Stop Fruiting on Olive and Other Trees
Don’t like the messy fruit dropped by olive trees or the seed balls on Liquidambar? Ethephon (Florel Fruit Eliminator), a natural plant hormone, prevents the formation of fruit on just about any ornamental tree. Spray it at blossom time. It will stop the fruit formation (and seed pods) on Carrotwood (left), Elm, Oak, Pine, Eugenia trees and hedges. Timing is critical; Florel Fruit Eliminator must be applied when the tree is in early stages of flowering.