February Garden Maintenance For the Southeast

Posted by on February 3, 2017

Before the gardening season kicks into full gear, evaluate your landscape with regard to sustainability. Are you doing all that you can to reduce water, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer use? Are you  composting? Are you harvesting rainwater ? Are you planting the right plant in the right place? Do you mulch? Let this be the year you consider a more ecofriendly approach.
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Pinch annuals. Pinch spent blooms off pansies to maintain their peak flowering performance through spring.
Cut back perennials. February is a good time to cut back liriope. The key is not to trim it too late, or you’ll risk cutting new growth. The plant will not recover from the damage, and it can look tattered.The solid green variety spreads. If your original design had a pattern, and if you want to keep that pattern (usually an alternating X pattern), dig out the liriope that has spread, after the cutback, bringing back your original design.
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Plant peonies. You can still plant peonies. Fall would have been ideal, but they can be planted now as well. Make sure the top of the crown is just above the soil line. Peonies need cold weather to set the buds. Fertilize now before the spring growth, so that nutrients will be readily available when the plant needs it.
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Enjoy bulbs. Fertilize your tulips and daffodils as the foliage begins to rise. A general 10-10-10 fertilizer will work fine, but there are also products made especially for flowering bulbs, such as Holland brand products.Other bulbs, such as paperwhite narcissus and hyacinths, are easy to force and can be enjoyed indoors while waiting for spring.
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Tame vines. If your vines have gotten out of hand, late winter is a good time to tame them. Cut back wisteria, Virginia creeper, ivy and Japanese honeysuckle.
Plant trees. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, it is still a good time to plant trees and shrubs. Prepare the planting hole with ample mulch. Also cover the root ball with mulch, being careful to not bring the mulch right up to the trunk.
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Fertilize. February is the time to fertilize your flowering ornamentals. My beds get most of their nutrients from decaying composted leaf mulch, but oftentimes after a soil test, I will use an organic fertilizer.
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Prepare new gardening beds. A warm winter day is perfect for preparing a new or existing garden bed. For a new site, mark the area of the new bed and dress it with several layers of newspaper. Add organic matter, such as composted leaf mulch, as the final top dressing.For existing beds, work the ground with a garden fork to loosen the soil and mix in the organic matter. In doing so, you will improve soil fertility and drainage.
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Add lime to your fig tree. Our area tends to be acidic, and figs prefer a much sweeter soil. Get a soil test to determine how much lime to apply. It’s not unusual to need to add about 2 cups of dolomitic lime.
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Manage pests. Camellia blooms should be picked up from under the bush. This will help prevent the spread of disease.


Helen Yoest



5 responses to “February Garden Maintenance For the Southeast”

  1. I am a huge fan of yours, and am now a happy subscriber to your wonderful gardening blog. I love the peonies, but don’t see many planted here in Dothan, Alabama. I am now inspired to plant some though. My mother raised peonies in her garden (and the original plants are still thriving) in the Northeast Mississippi town of Pontotoc where I was raised. A lovely older lady in her church inspired my Mother to start growing them. During May, gorgeous arrangements of peonies were often shared for Sunday worship at our church. Theypeonies also traveled 6 hours to my home and my sister’s home in Athens, GA, to create lovely bouquets for our daughters’ dance recitals. Peonies will always hold a special place in my heart. Thanks for sharing.

  2. HelenYoest says:

    Thanks, Mary. Peonies are my fave. I plan to add more this year. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Debra Turner says:

    You’re giving me a little break from Old Man Winter. What beauiful flowers and garden!

  4. Great advises! I’m done already with the preparations of my spring beds and also finished with the vegetable seed starters. I got some new kinds of lovely tulip bulbs in the autumn and now my garden is so colorful. Planning to plant few kinds of summer bulbs right now. Thanks for the useful information. Greets!

  5. HelenYoest says:

    Thank you, Annie! I really love the tulips, they add so much color to the garden.

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