February Tasks and Garden Chores

Even though it may still be cold, damp and miserable outdoors, an occasional dose of sunshine could certainly put the gardening bug into you. With a little luck, Mother Nature will send a few blossoms your way this month. We are now at a time when we can no longer put off those garden projects, waiting for a nice day… don't be caught off guard though, winter is far from being over! If exceptionally cold weather is forecast, provide protection to early flowering or tender plants by covering them with some type of cloth material. Remove the covering as soon as the weather moderates again.

Shrubs and trees

Deciduous shrubs and trees are still dormant enough to transplant this month, once the buds have begun to swell, it will be too late. Trees which weren't fed last fall should be deep fed by punching a series of 1 - 2 inch holes two feet apart around the drip line and filled with an appropriate food. A mulch of well composted manure is also an excellent treat for your tree.

Mid to late February is the time to fertilize shrubs and evergreens. Use an acid type rhododendron fertilizer to feed evergreens, conifers, broad leaf evergreens, rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. Use an all‑purpose fertilizer to feed roses and other deciduous trees and shrubs. If you use dry type fertilizers, be sure to water it in thoroughly. Prune your summer flowering shrubs now but be aware that spring bloomers have already produced their buds last fall, and pruning them now will result in the loss of flowers. Forsythia, quince, spirea and other early spring flowering shrubs should be pruned a little later, after they have finished flowering. Pruning is necessary to improve the shape of the plant, as well as to open up the center of the plant to good air circulation and sun exposure. Always start your pruning by removing all dead, decayed or broken branches.

Now is a good time to stroll around and trim back any branches that were damaged by the ravages of winter. AND if you haven't yet applied your dormant fruit spray, DO IT NOW!!

Perennials, annuals, and bulbs

Plants which may have been pushed out of the ground by frost heave should be pressed firmly back into place. February is ideal to plant daylilies, bleeding hearts, and plantain lilies. Deciduous vines such as honeysuckle should be pruned and shaped. Most perennials may be divided and moved up until they begin to show new growth. Check your stored plants such as fuschias and geraniums, and if they are shriveled water them lightly. Summer flowering bulbs may try to start into growth if they are subjected to heat. They should be kept very dry, and stored at 45 degrees F. If they are shriveling, put them into slightly damp peat moss, but keep them cool! If you plan to grow lobelia, ageratum, verbena, petunia, vinca, or other slowing plants from scratch, the seeds should be started indoors in the latter part of the month.

Climbing roses should be thinned out to get rid of last years tangled growth.

Fruits and veggies

Rhubarb, horseradish, asparagus and artichokes can be planted this month. Strawberries can be planted as soon as they become available. Cane fruits (raspberries and blackberries), with the exception of ever bearers should have all the canes which produced fruit last year removed. If you grow currants, remove all trunks which are over 3 years old. The vegetable garden should get its first tilling (if weather permits) to allow the weather to aid you in breaking up the dirt clods. Exposed weeds and seeds hopefully will perish.

Odds and ends

House plants may notice the longer days, and begin growing. You can begin feeding them again, but use a diluted 50% fertilizer mix until the growth is robust. Continue feeding our feathered friends, you'll want them to stick around to help you in insect control when the weather warms again. Did you check your garden tools yet? Don't wait 'til the spring rush to get your mower back in shape! In the event of snow, be sure to shake or brush off the white stuff from the branches of your evergreens and shrubs. Don’t forget - it's time to turn the compost pile!

The University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.


Sherri Sanders
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
501-268-5394