With this recent cold weather, many of us are probably not spending much time outside in our gardens and landscape. For when we have warmer days in February, below are tips of what you can do in the garden this month.


•Do not apply “weed and feed” products. These contain both fertilizer and weed killer, but it is too early to fertilize warm season lawns such as Centipede, Bermuda, Zoysia and St. Augustine grass.

•Late February is the best time to get out early applications of pre-emergence herbicides for crabgrass (aka crabgrass preventer). Many products are granular, allowing easier spread.

•Tune up your lawn mowers and other lawn equipment to be ready for spring by sharpening, replacing blades and changing oil.

Trees, shrubs And flowers

•Now is the time to buy your fall-flowering bulbs, such as dahlias, gladioli, cannas and lilies. Don’t plant them yet, but wait for warmer weather (the soil temperature must be at least 55 degrees F).

•Late February is the time to be pruning crape myrtles and other summer blooming shrubs (butterfly bush, lantana, gardenia, nandina, abelia) as these plants produce flowers on the new growth that occurs in the spring.

•Rose pruning should be done as leaf buds begin to swell in the spring. Prune shrub roses (knock-out roses) back to three to five finger-sized canes 18 to 24 inches long.

•February is a good time to cut back ornamental grasses. For shorter grasses, cut to 4 to 6 inches in height. For pampas grass, cut to a 6- to 12-inch height. Avoid cutting any new growth. Remember to wear gloves when cutting pampas, and you can pull back the top with a rope to allow for easier cutting.

•Do not trim hydrangeas. Their stems may look dead, but they contain this spring’s flower buds.

•Fertilize trees, shrubs, vines and ground covers with a slow release fertilizer that has a 12-4-8 or 16-4-8 analysis.

 Fruits, vegetables and herbs

•Spray your tree fruits this month with a dormant soil to control mites and scale. The oil simply covers the tree and suffocates the insects. (Note: Do not apply dormant oil when the tree is not dormant. Doing so in the spring, summer and fall will cause damage.)

•Remember to prune tree fruits just before the buds begin to swell. Remove all dead and diseased branches. Prune out branches that are crossing or overlapping other branches and will shade out other branches, thus reducing fruit production and quality.

•Start pepper, tomato and eggplant seeds indoors to have transplants ready in mid-April. These crops need direct light and warm temperatures above 60 degrees.

•Plant seed potatoes and onion sets in the garden for harvest in late May or early June.

•Start growing your own salad garden! Direct sow loose leaf lettuce, arugula, spinach, mesclun mixes, carrots and radish in the garden.

•Direct sow other cool season vegetables such as beet, rutabagas, swiss chard, kale, mustard and turnip seed. Broccoli plants can also be set out during this time.

Learn more

•Subscribe to Wayne County Gardening e-newsletter and receive timely gardening information and announcements of upcoming extension gardening events. To subscribe, visit: http://go.ncsu.edu/subscribewcg. Scroll down to enter your email address in the “address” box and click on the subscribe button. You will then receive an email which will direct you to a website to accept the subscription.

•“Like” us on Facebook to receive timely garden tips, ask questions and learn of upcoming gardening events. www.facebook.com/waynecountygardening

Upcoming Wayne County Extension gardening programs

Growing Blueberries workshop will be 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Farm Credit Farmers Market, located behind the Maxwell Center at 3114 Wayne Memorial Drive. Learn how you can grow fresh blueberries in your own garden. In this workshop, we will cover site and variety selection, pruning and fertilization. The workshop is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required. Arrive a few minutes early to register before start of the workshop. For more information, call Wayne County Cooperative Extension Office at 919-731-1520.

Pruning in the Garden workshop will be 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 13 at the Wayne County Extension Office, Maxwell Center, 3114B Wayne Memorial Drive. The workshop will cover when and how to prune your garden plants, including landscape trees and shrubs, tree fruits, grapes and blueberries. Registration fee is $5. Pre-registration is not required. Arrive a few minutes early to register.

Jessica Strickland is an agriculture extension agent specializing in horticulture for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Wayne County.

Horticulture Extension Agent