through openings in trellises or arbors and tie them with jute twine or
plastic/wire plant ties. Securing canes now prevents damage from winter
winds. Wait until after the spring flowering period to prune climbing
• As winter begins to
give way to spring, it is time to prune summer blooming shrubs such as
crape myrtle, butterfly bush, summer blooming spireas and evergreens, if
needed. Summer bloomers produce flowers on new growth. Pruning in late
winter gets the job done before the new growth begins and flowering is
• When pruning shrubs,
first prune out any dead or damaged branches; then thin out by removing
about one-third of the canes or stems at ground level, removing the
oldest canes only; and last, shape the rest of the plant, but do not cut
everything back to the same height.
• Ornamental Grasses –
Before new growth begins, remove the old dead foliage of ornamental
grasses in the landscape. Once growth begins this becomes almost
impossible without damage, so put this gardening chore on the top of
your to do list. Even though not a true grass, the old foliage of
liriope or Monkey grass can be removed. For large areas use a string
trimmer or lawn mower. Removing the old growth is not essential, but
removing the old damaged foliage does insure that the plants will look
their best throughout the season.
• Liriope and mondo
grass-Now is a great time to trim foliage before new leaves emerge. Cut
small plantings by hand; for larger ones, use your lawn mower with the
blade set at 2½ to 3 inches high. Be careful not to cut too short, as
you may damage the new growth. You can check the height of the new
growth by gently pulling apart existing leaves near the base of the
spring-flowering shrubs such as quince, azalea, forsythia and spirea
after they finish blooming.
• Fruit bearing trees
such as apples, peaches, plums, pears and grapes, unlike ornamental
trees and shrubs, need to be pruned every year. Opening up the canopy
increases air circulation and is important in helping to reduce
diseases. It also increases light penetration, which is important for
ripening and fruit quality.
• Spring blooming
trees, shrubs and vines should not be pruned in late winter, their
flower buds are formed and ready to open as temperatures warm. Azaleas,
forsythia, weigela, dogwood, Carolina Jessamine, wisteria and other
spring "beauties" can be pruned after they bloom.
• If overwintered
coleus have become leggy and gangly-looking, clip off the ends to take
cuttings, and root them to produce short, stocky plants for planting in
• Hanging baskets of
philodendrons, piggyback plants or pothos may have leaves clustered at
the ends of their stems. Cut them all the way back to the rim of the
pot. During the new growth they will trail back down the sides of the
pot. Use the trimmings to root new plants.
• Take cuttings from
indoor overwintered geraniums to root.
• Good time to severely
• Water foliage plants
as well as other containerized plants only when needed and not by the
• Winter annuals and
dry soil areas as needed.
• If a freeze is
forecast. Well-watered roots are less susceptible to freeze damage.
• Lightly water forced
bulbs to keep potting mix moist.
• Houseplants more
frequently now and watch for onset of new growth.
• Newly set trees,
shrubs, vines and roses at planting, keeping the soil moist but not
• Check junipers and
other narrow-leaf evergreens for bagworm pouches. The insect eggs
overwinter in the pouch, and start the cycle again by emerging in the
spring to begin feeding on the foliage. Hand removal of the pouches is a
way of reducing the potential damage next spring.
• It may seem early to
begin controlling summer weeds, but crabgrass and other warm season weed
seeds begin to germinate as soil temperatures rise. By applying pre-
emergent or preventative herbicides mid to late February, these weeds
are killed as they emerge. Wait too late and these products are
• Apply a broadleaf
weed control such as Weed-B-Gon or Weed Stop to spot treat for weeds in
dormant warm season grasses.
• Toward the end of the
month, as temperatures rise above 40 degrees for several days at a time,
but before buds begin to burst, an application of horticulture oil will
safely kill over-wintering soft-bodied insects such as scale, whiteflies
and aphids. Since horticulture oil is not a poison and works by coating
insects, good cover is important. Make sure the spray covers both the
upper and lower surface of leaves and gets into bark cracks and
crevices. As with any spray read and follow label directions.
• Spray for fire blight
on Bradford Pears, pears and apples; FL Fire Blight Spray.
• Watch for aphids,
scale insects and mites on forced bulbs and houseplants, insecticidal
• Treat bulbs that were
removed from a fungus infected bed before replanting in new bed or
treated bed (if not too badly infected).
• Watch for
damping-off, HY Captan.