One strange phenomenon many have noted in their lawns this winter is blotchy or checkerboard patterns as pictured in the yard of a local resident. Many think these are unique or cute but others don't appreciate the sudden unsightly appearance. Blame this damaged turf on a recent frost or night of cold weather.
It appears the brown blotches of leaf blades were frozen but ones nearby remained unaffected. All could eventually turn brown. St. Augustine, bermuda and zoysia lawns are most likely to be affected. If you look among the browned spots, green blades and runners are normally noted near the ground. Expect the entire lawn to regreen when spring growth returns. If needed, the brown could eventually be raked out. Continue normal care with a March fertilizer application and water as needed.
Don't worry much longer over winter cold as strange happenings and freezes are about over as we head well into the month of February. This is one of my favorite months which sort of reminds me of spring in the northern states. The days are warmish and the nights are cool. This encourages me to get outdoors and complete some of my projects.
Now is a good time to redo many of the flower beds that have declined during the fall and winter months. A number of the plants have frozen during the recent cold. It may seem brutal but it's out with the declining pentas, Mexican heather and similar. I want more color and now. So some new plantings include foxglove, delphiniums, petunias and snapdragons I have been raising. You can do this too with transplants available at your local garden centers.
Now is a good time to start new plants from seed. Do you realize they are starting to charge real money for plants these days? A packet of seed is so cheap and you can have transplants for the garden in about six weeks. It's easy and some that are sure to please include zinnias, marigolds, salvia and vinca. Start the seeds in small pots or cell packs. Just think of the money you are going to save.
Lawn feedings start at the end of the month. Over the years there are changes in the fertilizer law for Florida but you probably won't notice. There may be a new analysis or two but mainly what has changed is the rate the products are applied to the turf. If you follow the label and use the spreader settings recommended there is not going to be a problem and you are going to be earth friendly too.
Do take time this month to get back outside and enjoy your landscape. Give it a fresh look and
enjoy the spring weather as it will only be here for a few months.
Gotta Do's for February:
- Zoysia and bahia lawns turned brown due to cold; no special care is needed at this time.
- Mow zoysia lawn to recommended height of two inches and remove thick thatch.
- Those brown spots in lawns are likely weeds; remove and resod when grass is available.
- One way to control weeds is with regular mowings to reduce them to the height of the lawn.
- Cool season weeds can also be spot treated with herbicides as labeled for your lawn type.
- When previous brown patch disease has been noted, apply a fungicide for lawns in February.
- Crabgrass preventers can be applied mid month to stop weedy grasses from germinating.
- Do not use crabgrass preventers if you plan to resod, seed or need runner growth.
- Seeding of ryegrass for a temporary lawn is over; most permanent lawns should recover soon.
- Tan to brown cold damaged blades can be left or raked from lawns as growth begins.
- First of the year feedings of most lawns can begin at the end of the month or early March.
- Delay feedings of centipede and zoysia lawns until they regreen for spring in April
- Sod or plug new lawns; begin seeding after mid month.
- Take time to have a soil acidity test made and readjust the soil pH if needed.
- Frosts and freezes have ended the warm season crops; remove declining plants.
- Prepare gardens by tilling in organic matter with sandy and previously planted sites.
- Hurry to plant the last of the cool season vegetables in early February.
- Start seeds of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants immediately to have transplants by March.
- Prune cold damage from tropical tree and shrub type fruiting plants as needed.
- Bananas and papayas may have been frozen and need heavy pruning or replanting
- Pineapples may yellow their leaves and need major pruning but the plants should survive.
- Prune all deciduous fruit trees and vines as soon as possible.
- Learn how to thin peach & nectarine trees to obtain the best production.
- Plant container gardens to enjoy vegetables and herbs on porches and patios.
- Fertilize, groom and harvest herbs to keep them producing; dry and store extras.
- Warm season vegetables planted in late February are likely to need cold protection.
- Support vining crops by tying the vines to a stake or trellis.
- Plant additional fruiting trees, shrubs and vines.
- Purchase new seeds for the garden early to obtain the best selections
- Check with your University of Florida Extension office for new and better fruit varieties.
- Pine bark fines can be used to help adjust the soil acidity for blueberry plantings.
- Feed all fruit producing trees, shrubs and vines in late February.
- Take an inventory of cold damaged plants that may need to be replaced.
- Prune cold damaged plants when you cannot stand seeing the brown leaves and branches.
- Plants may continue to decline due to cold so keep the pruners handy
- Perennials may be dead to the ground but should begin growth with warmer weather.
- Prune all but late winter and spring blooming trees and shrubs as needed.
- Reshape overgrown and out of bounds plantings including hedges.
- Only remove seed heads, small stems and suckers from crape myrtles.
- Prune ornamental grasses to within a foot or two of the ground before growth begins.
- Remove declining fronds and fruiting stalks from palms; leave the good green foliage.
- Give all but climbing roses a first of the year pruning around mid month.
- Trim climbing roses after spring blooms to only remove dead or out of bounds shoots.
- Look for Florida bulbs to plant at garden centers to obtain the best selection.
- Move poinsettias to the landscape on warm days and apply a slow release fertilizer.
- 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.
- Add a majority of hardy drought tolerant plants to the landscape.
- Maintain a mulch around trees starting a foot from the trunks; six inches from shrubs.
- Prepare new flower beds; add organic matter to sandy soil.
- Replant declining container gardens.
- Plant bare root and container grown trees, shrubs and vines.
- Begin every other week feedings of orchids by month's end or apply a slow release fertilizer.
- Many outdoor foliage plants show signs of decline: remove affected portions as needed.
- Replace severely cold damaged foliage plants when the weather warms.
- Check previous indoor plant additions for mites and insects.
- Most holiday plants can be grown outdoors when the weather warms.
- Give Christmas and holiday cactus a bright spot in the home; water when they start to dry.
- Remove faded flowers and stalks from forced amaryllis bulbs; add the bulbs to the garden.
- When indoor orchid flowers fade move the plants outside to a warm shady site.
- Groom indoor foliage to remove old leaves, faded flowers and declining portions.
- Feed all container plantings.
February 2018 plantings
Flowers: Alyssum, aster, baby's breath, bacopa, begonia, candytuft, carnation, calendula, coneflower, coreopsis, cosmos, dahlia, delphinium, dianthus, diascia, dichondra, dusty miller, false heather, four o'clock, gaillardia, gaura, gazania, geranium, gerbera, Johnny-jump-up, lobelia, million bells, nasturtium, pansy, petunia, rose, salvia, snapdragon, Stokes aster, sweet pea, and yarrow.
Vegetables: Plant through mid-month; beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collards, endive, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, peas, potatoes, radishes, Swiss chard and turnips. After mid-month plant; beans, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, luffa, peppers, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes and watermelon.
Herbs: anise, basil, borage, chives, dill, fennel, lemon balm, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram, tarragon, and thyme.
Bulbs: African iris, amaryllis, Amazon lily, Asiatic lily, blackberry lily, blood lily, bulbine, caladium, canna, crinum, day lily, gladiolus, gloriosa lily, Louisiana iris, society garlic, spider lily, rain lily.