February Gardening By the Month

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than you!”-Dr. Seuss


(During this month when we, more than ever, celebrate love, make sure the one you are loving most is you. ~The Happy Gardener   Pictured above is the beautiful Bleeding Heart.)

heart-217001_6401st WEEK:

If you didn’t do it in Jan., check pH and add sulfur or other acidifying supplement.

Till composted organic matter and shredded cereal (Elbon) rye into veg. garden soil.

Apply pre-emergent herbicides to prevent crabgrass, sand bur and other summer weeds. Control chickweed now before it deposits more seed. Apply Amaze, Weed Beater Complete, or use corn gluten weed preventer.

Check for SCALE on roses very early this month and spray if needed.

Unless you have a large garden that takes a long time to prune, be patient and wait until mid-month (or end of month) to start cutting.  Sharpen and oil tools ahead of time.

If your oaks require pruning, do it now to minimize the threat of oak wilt (be sure to paint cuts and wounds).

Ball Moss does not threaten oak trees, but if the appearance bothers you, control it y treating now with Cupro fungicide (copper hydroxide). Follow label instructions

Use Gerbera daisies like winter geraniums.  They are decorative on the patio and can tolerate cool weather.  Cover them for below-freezing spells.

Plant gladiolus now and every 2 or 3 weeks for an extended show of blooms.

Plant your spring crop of broccoli, cabbage cauliflower, carrots and asparagus over the next month, the earlier the better.  For the highest quality broccoli, harvest before the heads begin to bloom.  Secondary heads will allow a second harvest several weeks after the large head is cut.

Potatoes, English peas, onions, radishes, and sweet peas can be planted now.

Reapply SLUG and SNAIL bait to pansy, strawberry and primrose beds.-CF

This is an excellent time to transplant established trees or shrubs because they are dormant.

Vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers and flowers such as begonias and petunias can be started now from seed.  The seedlings will be ready for transplanting in the garden in 6 to 8 weeks.-EO

Prune shade trees to restore good shape and remove damaged branches.  Do not “top” shade trees.

Use a water-soluble complete-and-balanced analysis fertilizer to new flower, vegetable transplants, for quickest start.

Use a high-nitrogen fertilizer to feed asparagus beds for vigorous spear development.

Prune fruit trees, it is best to accomplish this before mid-month.

Lookout for APHIDS (plant lice) that may develop on new growth of daylilies, photinias, roses (oh, yeah), also on tree trunks.  Apply general-purpose insecticide, but target the aphids.

SPIDER MITES attack conifers (junipers, Hill-Country cedars, arborvitae, cypress, pines etc.) earlier than other plants.  Look for browned, thinned interior needles.  Use a miticide (or a hard blast of cold water every 3 days, 3 times).-NS

Hibernation for the Ladybug is ending and breeding begins now.  Watch (& wait) for aphid infestation in roses and other plants before applying “Ladybug Lures” or other attractants.-WBC


appetite-15200_6402nd WEEK:

Plant carrots and asparagus for spring crops.

Apply dormant oil to pecan and fruit tree trunks, also hollies, euonymus and other shrubs to control scale, phylloxera and other pests and larvae.  Remember to re-apply dormant oil on the roses before buds open.

Perennials planted now will bloom in spring.

Water and fertilize winter annual bedding plants.

Plant nasturtium, cosmos, sweet pea, coreopsis and California poppy seeds.

Plant fruit trees now. They live longer if planted in an 8 x 8 foot raised bed.-CF

Prepare beds and gardens for spring planting.

Browse catalogs and select flower and vegetable varieties now before the rush of spring planting.-TAE

Water foliage plants and other containerized plants when needed rather than by the calendar.-LR

Spring isn’t far away, and this is the last time to consider the cool-season annuals that will proper and bloom in the next 2 to 3 months before warm weather rolls into town.  Each of these annuals will tolerate light frosts and freezes, and each should be available in the South Texas nurseries now and over the next several weeks: * Pansies and violas (midwinter mainstays); Dianthus (related to carnations, second only to pansies in winter hardiness); Snapdragons (massed colors show up best, but commonly sold in mixes); Petunias (early planting gives best results, multiflora “Supertunias”, the small-flowering forms laugh at summer heat); English daisies; Calendulas (looks like lush chrysanthemum blooms, use in masses in the back of your floral beds); Larkspur (botanically delphiniums, best and most common is the annual reseeding one.  Plant it toward the backs of your beds and let it go to seed); Stocks (snapdragons on steroids, fragrant), Iceland poppies (ultimate in cheerful colors), Sweet alyssum (low border flower, fragrant), Swiss chard (yes, same plant that people eat, ornamental types looks great in the landscape), Bluebonnets (let them go to seed after flowering).-NS

If you are looking to plant these cooler weather options mentioned in above paragraph, do so soon. Growers are now more concerned with providing warm weather bedding plants, so cool weather bedding plants will be available in limited quantities and colors.


dandelion-463928_6403rd WEEK:

Apply pre-emergent weed killers to prevent germination of warm season weeds, grassbur and crabgrass seeds in lawns and landscapes.  Follow label instructions. If we have a mild winter, this can be applied a week or two earlier.

Spring pruning of your roses can begin starting on Valentines Day (if weather is decent, if not, you can wait till first of March).  Look in the S.A. Rose Society’s pamphlet “How to Grow Roses”, and “A Year in the Rose Garden”.-BT

Prune fruit trees, crape myrtles and most shrubs now.  Wait to trim early bloomers such as Texas mountain laurel, Lady Banksia roses and conifers.-CF

Sow marigold and periwinkle seeds in flats or containers for garden planting in spring.

Plant dahlia tubers in late February and early March.-TAE

Mulch tomatoes and peppers to conserve water and help blooms set.

Mow lawn to remove winter-browned stubble.  Drop mower one or two settings.  Wear quality respirator, goggles.

Late February into early March is a good time to plant tomatoes in containers.  For info on hybrid tomatoes, click here. For info on heirloom tomatoes, click here.


appletreesized4th WEEK:

Feed shade and fruit trees with one cup of slow-release lawn fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter.  Spread fertilizer at the drip line, the ring directly beneath the tree’s outermost branches.

Mow/cut Asian Jasmine and feed it with a slow-release lawn food.

Fertilize cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.

Apply a light application of fertilizer to established pansy plantings.-TAE

Use a high-nitrogen fertilizer to pecans in South Texas late in month.-NS


Please note, most of the information shared here was obtained from Research-based sources (see contributors acknowledgements below), and from individuals who are considered very knowledgeable on a particular subject.

Many thanks to my contributors:

PMCA – Purple Martin Conservation Association; visit their website at www.purplemartin.org.

CF – Calvin Finch, Bexar Co. extension agent for horticulture, Texas Agricultural Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express-News)

EO – Edna Ortiz, Bexar Co. extension agent for horticulture, Texas Agricultural Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express-News)

LR – Lynn Rawe, Bexar Co. extension agent for horticulture, Texas Cooperative Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express-News); visit their web site at www.bexar-tx.tamu.edu.

SB – Steve Brown, Meteorologist, KSAT; visit their web site at www.ksat.com/weather.

WBC – courtesy, Wild Bird Center

HG – John Howard Garrett, aka. The Dirt Doctor; visit his web site at www.dirtdoctor.com.

TAE – Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Bexar County (courtesy S.A. Express-News)

NS – Neil Sperry, Texas horticulturalist, Publisher “Neil Sperry’s GARDENS” and contributor to S.A. Express-News; visit his web site at www.neilsperry.com.

FR – Field Roebuck, freelance garden writer and rosarian from Dallas

JB – Jerry Baker, America’s Master Gardener, aka “The Yardener”