February Gardening Tips for North Florida
February is a good month to do those gardening chores you’ve been postponing or avoiding. While the weather may vacillate from warm to cold, there will be pleasant days for working in the garden. Don’t rush the season, however. Remember, it’s still winter and the last frost date has not passed. If cold weather sweeps down, check our December tips for suggestions about protecting your plants from cold damage.
Since rainfall is usually low this month, be sure to water as needed each week -- deep and long to thoroughly soak the ground.
Get ready for spring planting by testing your soil if you haven’t done so. The results will help guide your plant and fertilizer selections. Test kits are available from your county extension service.
Top Ten Tips for February
O Do prune your roses during the first half of this month if not done in January. This includes hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, shrub roses, etc. Remove dead or damaged canes and branches. Then reduce the height by one-third to one-half and improve the shape. They should start blooming again in about eight weeks.
O Draw a garden plan to help you determine the quantities of seeds and bulbs you will need for spring planting. Then order them.
O Examine palms for cold weather injury after long chilling temperatures, frost or a hard freeze. No matter the type of cold, the resutls are similar. If the bud is green, the palm should survive. Remove dead brancnes and dying leaves around the bud, but DON’T cut back leaves or branches with just brown tips. Palms can still get nutrition from the grean part.. Spray with copper fungicide to fight bacteria and fungi attacks. Then spray again in ten days. Don’t fertilize until spring or summer.
O Prune non-spring flowering deciduous shrubs and evergreens wwhile they are dormant. Spring-flowering shrubs should be pruned after they bloom to avoid cutting off potential blooms that are already set.
O Renew cool weather annuals by deadheading them and reshaping leggy plants by lightly pruning.
O Rotate house plants 180 degrees every two weeks for more uniform growth.
O Sow another crop of cold weather vegetables. There is still time for them to mature before the heat and humidity return. See Let's Plant for suggestions.
O Start some warm season vegetables, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers, indoors or outdoors with cold protecttion. Transplant them to the garden when the weather warms.
O Transplant trees and shrubs while they are dormant. When moving them, try to keep the root system as intact as possible. Also keep the roots hydrated. Water the plants thoroughly after planting and mulch them. Be sure to continue to water them regularly until established in the new location.
O Train young peach, nectarine and plum trees (one to three years old) to develop a lateral branching system that will spread fruit evenly over the tree. Prune three to ten year old trees to maintain this open shape. While now is the main time to prune, a lesser trimming should be done in the summer
Suggestions for varieties that do well in our area are listed below. Plants that are started this month must be cold hardy as there may be some chilly nights at or near freezing. If starting warm weather plants, do it indoors.
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