February is a month of paradox. It’s typically our coldest month and the one with the very best probability of snow—but flowers bloom even in snow right here within the Southeast. You may really feel it: the sluggish, candy shift of crops towards progress.
Sharpen up the pruners and prune. Likelihood is you’ve had a pleasant break from the labor-intensive aspect of gardening, and it’s possible you’ll be craving a little bit motion. Nothing is extra gratifying in my guide than pruning, which is the robust love of gardening. February is your final probability for really dormant pruning till subsequent winter, and something apart from spring-bloomers or timber that bleed sap (comparable to river birch (Betula nigra, Zones 4–9), maples (Acer spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), dogwoods (Cornus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), and elms (Ulmus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9) may be pruned now. However make sure to work first on these crops that require pruning particularly right now:
- Roses (Rosa spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9)
- Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum and cvs., Zones 5–8)
- Figs (Ficus carica, Zones 8–10)
- Grapevines (Vitis spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9)
- Butterfly bushes (Buddleia spp. and cvs., Zones 5–9)
- Chaste timber (Vitex agnus-castus, Zones 6–9)
- Different summer-blooming shrubs
Roses and fruit timber? It’s time for a protected spray of dormant oil. Vegetation within the rose household, together with roses, peaches (Prunus persica, Zones 5–8), plums (Prunus domestica, Zones 5–9), cherries (Prunus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–8), and apples (Malus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–8) are typically fairly prone to a variety of illnesses, together with fungal issues comparable to black spot, scab, and fireblight, in addition to many soft-bodied bugs. Spray areas affected by these illnesses and pests with a dormant oil spray earlier than they get an opportunity to develop with the warming circumstances of spring. Make certain you choose dormant oil particularly, then combine in accordance with directions and spray evenly earlier than buds start to interrupt.
Usher in branches from aromatic winter bloomers. We’re graced with so many winter blooms right here within the Southeast! Whereas it’s a pleasure to walk and sniff within the backyard on a gentle day, don’t let any of that perfume go to waste; deliver a few of it indoors. Prune off branches with almost- to just-opened flowers from beauties comparable to Japanese apricot (Prunus mume, Zones 6–9), witch hazel (Hamamelis spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox, Zones 7–9), and paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha, Zones 8–10) to stir your senses. Fill a bucket with lukewarm water, and put minimize ends in as you collect. Change the water in your vase each couple of days. In case you’ve but so as to add winter bloomers to your backyard, make plans to. Go to botanical gardens to expertise the intensive palette of winter-blooming crops for our local weather. Make notes for spring or fall buying, because the crops gained’t be in bloom then, and it’s possible you’ll neglect their charms.
Be ready for freezing temperatures. The darker aspect of February’s blooms is the potential for exhausting freezes now and into March, which is able to flip the cheery pink petals of magnolias (Magnolia spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), camellias (Camellia spp. and cvs., Zones 6–10), and flowering cherries to rusty brown. Regardless of this potential heartbreak, it’s necessary to understand that hurt not often involves the shrubs or timber themselves from frost, even when a part of the floral present is ruined. For smaller, prized specimens, it’s doable to make use of frost fabric to realize a couple of levels of heat and avoid wasting flowers.
It’s time to seed the few cool-season veggies that do finest with spring—quite than fall—planting: peas, radishes, carrots, and potato tubers. In case your lettuce didn’t overwinter, sow a spring crop later within the month. The winter weeds will probably be rising as properly, so get a bounce on them—and toss a couple of, comparable to dandelion and chickweed, into your salads for a standard spring tonic. Simply be sure to’re harvesting them in areas free of poisons.
—Paula Gross is the previous affiliate director of the College of North Carolina at Charlotte Botanical Gardens.