Tom's Monthly Gotta-Do's

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Even though the landscape looks bad it will grow back. Take it from one who has been through numerous Florida freezes the landscape can regenerate itself and may be a lot better looking too. Many of our plants have become overgrown and out of bounds. In this case mother nature did the pruning and all you have to do is remove the debris.

Click here for a special How-To gardening video on dealing with freeze damaged plants!

By now you should be getting a pretty good idea what is dead and what is alive. If the leaves are brown and the stems are brown, neither are doing anything for the plant. After many years of observing freezes I don’t believe the brown debris provides very much if any cold protection. So my suggestion is cut the declining plant portions back into healthy wood.

Some plants will be to the ground. Will they come back? Most will, but you have to be patient and wait maybe for months. I once waited for a croton to recover until July when it sent shoots up from below the soil line. Frankly I had given up on the plant. If you cannot wait this long give the plants at least a month or two. The roots underground are well established and can push out quick growth once they get started.

My rule on pruning after a freeze is, when you cannot stand the brown it is time to do the pruning. Now, there are many more things to do on this month’s list of Gotta Do’s.

Tom's Gotta-do's for February, 2010

Allow lawns to recover from the cold with normal care.
Water when the soil begins to dry usually once a week or less.
Delay feedings until the end of the month or early March.
Select a lawn fertilizer with little or no phosphorus, the second number in an analysis
Rake out the cold damaged grass blades if you cannot stand the brown when new growth begins.
Apply preemergence herbicides to prevent crabgrass seeds from germinating by mid month.
Live crabgrass sprigs must be removed from lawns for a preemergence herbicide to be effective.
Take time to have a soil acidity test made and readjust the soil pH if needed. .
Seeding of new lawns can begin by mid month.
Maintain normal grass height; mow as needed to keep the lawn attractive and control weeds.
Treat weed infested lawns with the appropriate herbicide when lawns begin vigorous growth.
Replace cold damaged vegetables with the cool season crops during early February.
Hurry to start transplants from seed of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants for March planting.
Keep covers handy to protect new plantings from possible late season frosts & freezes.
Till and enrich sandy soils with organic matter before starting new plantings.
Plant container gardens to enjoy vegetables and herbs on porches and patios.
Reshape citrus trees and trim grape vines in February before flowering begins.
Feed all fruit producing trees, shrubs and vines in late February.
Major pruning is needed in most landscape to remove cold damage.
Prune back to healthy wood which may be to near the ground.
Now is a good time to reshape overgrown and out of bounds plantings.
Give plants adequate time to recover, which may be months, before making a replacement.
Remove only seed heads, small stems and suckers from crape myrtles.
Prune ornamental grasses to within a foot or two of the ground.
Give all but climbing roses a first of the year pruning around mid month.
Trim back out of bounds perennials; remove old flower heads and seed pods.
Keep holiday plants another year in a bright window or on the patio during warm days and begin feedings.
Begin landscape tree, shrub and flower feedings if needed for growth and foliage color.
Feed container gardens every other week or use a slow release fertilizer.
Start seeds of warm season annuals and long lasting perennials.
Plant new trees and large shrubs 20 feet or more from homes; at least 10 feet from sidewalks and driveways.
Maintain a mulch layer around trees starting a foot from the trunks; six inches from the base of shrubs.
Replant declining container gardens.
Begin every other week feedings of orchids by month’s end or apply a slow release fertilizer.
Form compost piles of leaves plus thin layers of soil and a little fertilizer.
Divide and transplant perennials.
Clean lily ponds
Trim overgrown petunias, begonias and impatiens to increase flowering.
Transplant pot bound plants to slightly larger containers.
Move lanky and yellow plants into higher light.
Replace declining plants with new selections
Wash away pests and dust from house plants.
Trim faded flowers from forced amaryllis bulbs and add the bulbs to the garden.
Feed all container plantings.

February 2010 Plantings

Flowers: Alyssum, aster, baby's breath, bacopa, begonia, candytuft, carnation, calendula, coneflower, coreopsis, cosmos, dahlia, delphinium, dianthus, diascia, dusty miller, false heather, four o'clock, gaillardia, gaura, gazania, geranium, gerbera, godetia, Johnny jump up, licorice plant, lobelia, million bells, nasturtium, pansy, petunia, rose, salvia, snapdragon, Stokes aster, sweet pea, veronica and yarrow.

Bulbs: African iris, Asiatic lily, amaryllis, blackberry lily, blood lily, bulbine, caladium, canna, crinum, day lily, gladiolus, gloriosa lily, Louisiana iris, society garlic, spider lily, rain lily.

Vegetables: Plant through mid month; beet, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collard, endive, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, pea, potato, radish and turnip. After mid month plant; bean, cantaloupe, corn, cucumber, eggplant, luffa, pepper, pumpkin, squash, tomato and watermelon.

Herbs: anise, basil, borage, chives, dill, fennel, lemon balm, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram, tarragon, and thyme.