February is a pleasant month to be outdoors working in the landscape. What we need to do most is prune out of control limbs from trees and shrubs. Some of the tree work we should leave to professionals. After all, we do not want any injuries. But removing a lower limb of trees and thinning shrubs may be possible for many.
We should spend some time with our palms that have not been pruned for a year. The lower fronds were brown and drooping. Some don't mind this look and describe these descending limbs as a petticoat. We don't appreciate the often messy look and remove all the brown or damaged fronds. We also remove the old flower heads and loose frond bases called "boots". We can give palms the "9 to 3" looks and that is all the pruning needed as pictured. That is all we do besides feeding the palms in March with a palm fertilizer of an 8-0-12-4mg analysis developed by the University of Florida.
Lots of vines are out of control and in our sights for pruning too. Some are very invasive like the skunk vine, Virginia creeper and cat's claw vine. Cut these down to the ground. Then when new growth's start, apply a brush killer to the new foliage following label instructions.
Pruning we have yet to do is the training of new trees and shrubs. Almost all trees need a single trunk. This means eliminating the twin trunks that sometimes form and the competing leaders. We do have trees with modified leaders but there are not formed until the tree is 12- to 15-feet tall. You may have crape myrtle trees with multiple trunks but this is an exception. Do keep as many limbs as possible along the lower portion of trunks until the trees are more than 10 feet tall. Then these can be shortened or gradually removed as needed.
Reign in out of bounds shrubs. Now is the time to do this as the bare limbs often left can fill in quickly with spring growth. Some foliage may brown too when newly exposed to the sun but new foliage is going to cover this too. Cut the plants back a foot or two below the desired height and thin them out a little too. Do delay pruning all spring blooming shrubs until after the blossoms fade.
- Many lawns are brown or showing brown blades due to cold; do not rush to stimulate
- 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.
- Cool season weeds are prevalent in many lawns; if needed spot treat with herbicides.
- Remove declining warm season weeds and add new sod or plugs.
- Crabgrass may regrow in mid month; if needed apply a preventer by mid month.
- Seeding of ryegrass for a temporary lawn is over; most permanent lawns should recover soon.
- Tan to brown blades can be left or raked from lawns as growth begins.
- Mow zoysia lawns to the desired height of 2- to 2-1/2-inches before spring growth begins.
- Sod or plug new lawns; begin seeding after mid month.
- Till new lawn sites 4- to 6-inches deep and level the soil before planting.
- Take time to have a soil acidity test made and readjust the soil pH if needed.
- Aeration can help lawns with compacted soils, nematodes or hard to wet soils.
Vegetable & fruit gardening:
- Many fruit trees are blooming; complete normal pruning early this month.
- Cool season vegetables can be planted through early February.
- Remove declining crops to prepare for new plantings.
- Improve sandy and old garden sites with organic matter before starting new plantings.
- If the weather remains warmish, only four weeks are needed to produce a transplant from seed.
- 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.
- Plant container gardens to enjoy vegetables and herbs on porches and patios.
- 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.
In the landscape:
- Remove weeds and till beds for future plantings.
- Expect plants to begin early growth if the warm weather returns in February.
- A freeze now could cause major damage; keep covers handy and your fingers crossed.
- Prune all but late winter and spring bloomers 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.
- 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 back out of bounds perennials; remove old flower heads and seed pods.
- 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.
- Replant declining container gardens.
- Divide and transplant perennials.
- Clean lily ponds to prepare for spring growth.
Foliage and house plant care:
- Groom indoor foliage to remove old leaves, faded flowers and declining portions.
- 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.
- Transplant pot bound plants to slightly larger containers.
- Move lanky and yellow plants into higher light.
- Trim indoor topiaries and tree like plants to control size and shape.
- Replace declining plants with new selections.
- Feed all container 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.