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February lawn and garden 
maintenance checklist


• Sow seeds in flats or containers to get a jump on plant growth before hot weather arrives. Warm temperature plants, 

such as tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, and periwinkles, can be sown in early February.

• When buying plants, the biggest is not always the best, especiallywhen dealing with bare-root plants. The medium to small sizes (4 to 6 feet) are usually faster to become established and more effective in the landscape than the large sizes.

• Now is an excellent time to select and plant container-grown roses to fill in those bare spots in your rose garden.

• Plant dahlia tubers in late February and early March.

• It is not too early to begin planting and/or dividing perennials.

• Cool season crops such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, radishes, beets, carrots, chard, collards, mustard greens, kale, turnips, Irish potatoes, onions and strawberries planted now will yield their harvest soon.

• Now is an excellent time to transplant mature or established trees and shrubs while they are dormant.

• Bare-root roses.

• Dormant trees and shrubs.

• Later-blooming bulbs like amaryllis, cannas, gladiolus, etc. in South Alabama; delay planting for a few weeks in North Alabama.

• (Northern and cooler Central areas) Start tuberous begonias indoors late this month for summer-long flowering outside.

• Start perennials from seed.

• Divide and replant summer- and fall-flowering perennials as new growth emerges, these include asters, chrysanthemums, coneflower, liriope and daylilies.

• Dormant asparagus crowns without any green shoots in bed enriched with organic matter such as compost, manure or shredded leaves.

• Graft camellias in Central and South Alabama.

• In the late winter, grape vines about one-half inch in diameter and one to one and one-half feet long can be severed from the plant and rooted. The basal portion of the vine should be treated with a root-inducing compound and then be placed in good potting soil or garden soil so that only one bud remains above the soil. Keep the vines well watered, and they should form roots as the leaves begin to develop. By the end of the summer or the next spring before growth begins, the vines may be transplanted to their permanent location in the garden.


• Apply a light application of fertilizer to established pansy plantings. Use one-half pound of ammonium sulfate per 100 square feet of bed area. Repeat the application every 4 to 6 weeks, depending on rainfall. Dried blood meal is also an excellent source of fertilizer for pansies.

• Don’t fertilize newly set out trees or shrubs until after they have started to grow, and then only very lightly the first year.

• Wait to fertilize the lawn until it greens up so that you get the most efficient use of the fertilizer.

• As the new green foliage of spring blooming bulbs pokes up in the garden it is time to fertilize. These plants are dormant during the summer months when most fertilizer applications are made. An application of 10-10-10, or any general fertilizer, provides these plants with the nutrients they need to increase in size providing more flowers next spring.

• Fruit trees: FL Fruit, Citrus & Pecan Food; Gro&Sho Pecan Tree Fertilizer.

• Apply half of the fertilizer recommended for grapes now; apply the other half soon after fruit sets.

• Houseplants with liquid of soluble fertilizer according to manufacturer’s directions when signs of growth appears.

• Feed indoor-grown annual transplants with a water-soluble fertilizer such as Peters 20- 20-20 at half strength every other week.

• Seedlings in soil-less mixture when the first true leaves appear. Feed every other watering.


• Prune bush roses during February or early March. Use good shears that will make clean cuts. Remove dead, dying, and weak canes. Leave 4 to 8 healthy canes, and remove approximately one-half of the top growth and height of the plant.

• Hybrid tea roses – These roses generally bloom from late spring through late fall. Hybrid tea bushes should be pruned in late February just as new growth begins. Prune each cane back to 12 to 15 inches. Make cuts just above a bud pointing outward so that new grow is directed away from the center of the bush and toward sunlight. To protect against the rose cane borer treat the fresh cut with a sealant.

• Climbing roses should be trained but not pruned. Weave long 

canes 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 roses.

• 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 not delayed.

• 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 plant.

• Prune 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 the spring.

• 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 prune evergreens.


• Water foliage plants as well as other containerized plants only when needed and not by the calendar.

• 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 excessively wet.


• 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 no-longer effective.

• 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 soap.

• 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.


• Make flower and vegetable garden plans now before the rush of spring planting. Time spent in armchair gardening before the fireplace will pay off in improved plant selection. Besides, it is fun to page through the garden catalogs.

• Start or use a gardening journal to help plan the color and landscaping of your garden. It is easier to erase than to move plant.

• Good time to organize your work area and supplies in preparation for work later in the month and following months.

• When soil can be worked, turn under last fall’s cover crops. Never work wet soil — this causes hard, compacted and unproductive soil.

• Solarize (process of covering with clear plastic in order to smother existing weeds) beds that are freshly tilled.

• Add compost and top-dressing mulch to all unhealthy soil areas.

• Turn the compost pile regularly.

• Change oil in mower and sharpen blades for cleaner cut. (Improves health of grass.)

• Calibrate your spreader to insure proper disbursement.

• Continue to cleanup any remaining leaves, frozen plants, debris, etc. (including those in the water garden).

• It is not too late to do a soil sample! The sooner the sample is submitted, the better.

• Install a water garden when ground can be worked.

• Check the tender aquatic plants overwintered indoors. Make sure they are still covered with water.

• Purchase or order gladiolus corms for February/March planting. Plant at two-week intervals to prolong flowering period.

• Bring forsythia, quince, spirea, peach and redbud branches indoors for an early blooming bouquet. Cut stems that have swollen flower buds at an angle, and place them in a container of tepid water in a cool place out of direct sunlight until blooming begins.

• A potted plant, tree, shrub, or cut flowers make excellent non-fattening Valentine gift.

• Feed the birds!

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Date Last Updated January, 2006