February Gardening Tips
February is a transition month to the biggest growing season for Southern California; SPRING! While it is still winter, spring is around the corner and we often feel it with warmer weather during the day and cooler nights. The first of the spring bulbs are starting to bloom but most plants are still growing slowly. February is not a major planting month; although you may be able to get some bare-roots in early this month (don’t wait), cool season lawns, spring annuals and vegetables started by seed are all good choices for planting this month. It is best to wait to plant summer vegetables directly into the ground until the soil warms up. Now is great time to plan your spring gardens and clean up the winter garden!
What to Plant
- Finish planting Bare-Roots plants. Don’t wait until they leaf out.
- Continue to plant cool season vegetables where frost seldom occurs such as beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, endive, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, potatoes (white) radishes, rutabagas and turnips.
- It is still too early to plant warm season vegetables from transplants in most areas, but you can start planting seeds for later transplant. Use quality STOVER® Seeds for a great crop this spring. Start them indoors in Grangetto’s Speedy Roots pre-filled starter trays.
- Continue to plant azaleas & camellias this month. They are best panted while in bloom. Plant them in soil that provides good drainage and afternoon shade. Be sure to check the tag for your specific varieties planting needs. Consider using Liquinox® Vitamin B-1 or Superthrive® during transplant to avoid transplant shock. Plant them in a location that provides good soil drainage and afternoon shade.
- Plant Chinese magnolias, gerberas, gladioli and lilies of the valley
- If you haven’t done so already, plant rose varieties such as hybrid teas and climbers early this month.
- Add some herbs to your garden or plant them in a pot. You can plant aloe, parsley, dill, borage, calendula, rosemary and sage now.
- It is still a good time to plant summer blooming bulbs. These varieties include baboon flower, canna, caladium, calla lily, crocosmia, dahlia, gladiolus, gloxinia, homeria, laitris, lilies, nerine, ranunculus, tigridia, tuberose, and tuberous begonias.
- Continue to plant wildflower seeds like California bluebells, Chinese houses, farwell-to-spring, mountain garland, goldfields and California poppy.
- Now is a good time to plant your choice of California Native plants. Dig a hole and fill with water several times, amend soil slightly and plant the root ball so that is an inch or two higher than the existing soil level. Cover with soil to create a little mound. Water again with a spray. Hose down your native garden once a week until rains are upon us. For more information on planting natives visit Las Pilitas Nursery
- Cool-Season Lawns such as tall & dwarf fescue are good choices to plant now. The cooler days and more rain make this a great time to plant. Plant from seed or sod. Prep your soil, lay the sod or seed and if you are using seed top-dress with Kellogg Topper. Newly established lawns needs lots of water. Don’t let them dry out.
Feeding and Maintenance
- Don’t let annual weeds crowd out your lawn this year. Use a pre-emergence herbicide to stop them from growing. Spread the pre-emergence product from mid-February to early March for best results. Feed lawns with Best® Nitra King 21-2-4 for green, healthy grass and follow up with Bonide® Crabgrass Preventer for control of broadleaf weeds. It stops weed seed from sprouting. For an all-in-one, quick and easy fertilizer and weed killer use Hi Yield Weed & Feed. This amazing product fertilizes and kills select broadleaf weeds in turf.
- Don’t let thatch build up: Thatch — a layer of old, dead grass stems — can stop air and water from getting to your lawn’s root system. Remove thatch before the grass starts growing in summer.
- Cool season lawns such as fescue, bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass are growing faster this time of year, so they need more frequent mowing. Perennial ryegrass and bluegrass should be cut at about 2 inches. Tall fescue should be cut a little higher, 2 to 3 inches.
Plants, Trees and Shrubs
- VEGETABLES – It’s a good time to plan your warm season vegetable gardens. Consider what you love to plant and eat! Start them indoors in starter trays now or wait to purchase transplants as early as late February. Use Speedy Roots seed starter trays if you are going to start your plants from seeds. You can start cleaning out your garden space by removing weeds, debris and old vegetables. Prepare the soil for planting by adding fresh planting mix or a good all around compost such as Gardner & Bloome® Soil Building Conditioner. Use a starter fertilizer from G&B Organics or other of your choice. If manure is used, apply it several weeks before panting. Irrigate to leach salts from the surface soil.
- HERBS – Fertilize your herb garden. Use compost, earthworm castings such as Worm Gold Plus® which includes kelp, manure and peat moss. Add gypsum if you have clay soil. Prune and lace your deciduous herbal shrubs and trees. These include roses, chaste tree, gingko, lemon verbena and elderberry.
- FRUIT TREES & VINES – Now is a good time to clean-up your citrus and take steps to prevent citrus pests. Start by pruning away branches that touch the ground to help close off access to ants. Clean the tree with a spray of soapy water made with insecticidal soap. Use a hose-end sprayer to get adequate water pressure. This removes dust, allowing beneficial insects and mites to attach pests. Finish by wrapping the truck with a sticky barrier such as Tanglefoot. First wrap the trunk with a strip of paper and then apply the Tanglefoot to the paper; do not apply to the trunk.If you live near the coast or other frost-free area, start fertilizing your avocados this month. If you live inland, wait until March to avoid frost damage. Use G&B Organics Fruit Tree Fertilizer or Best® Triple 15 for larger areas. Continue to feed citrus in coastal zones, berries and grapes. Feed fruit trees with a nitrogen fertilizer when new growth begins. G&B Organics Fruit Tree Fertilizer would be a good organic choice. Continue to protect young citrus, subtropical fruit trees and all other frost-sensitive plants from frost. Use DeWitt® N-Sulate Blankets.
- DECIDUOUS FRUIT & ORNAMENTALS – If you did not apply your second dormant spray late January, do it now. Deciduous fruit and ornamental trees need to be dormant sprayed. Dormant sprays such as horticulture oils and copper fungicidal sprays are applied after a deciduous plant has gone dormant and the leaves have dropped. Dormant sprays such as Monterey Horticultural Oil are used to control over-wintering mites and insects such as scale. Copper Fungicidal sprays such as Monterey® Liqui-Cop are used to control diseases such as peach leaf curl.
- ROSES – Prune hybrid teas and climbers anytime to mid-February. Continue to feed established roses with Bayer® Advanced 2-in-1 Rose & Flower Care, a combination granular fertilizer with insect control, or Bayer® Advanced All-in-One, a liquid combining fertilizer, insect and fungal control. Use organic G&B Organics Rose & Flower Food as an alternative to conventional feeding. Be sure to select an organic pest control product to apply separately to control pest and diseases. Top-dress the soil with Worm Gold Plus to stimulate organic activity. In addition, for Roses, adding Epsom Salts will help with basal breaks, forming new canes on older rose bushes.
- CAMELLIA – January should have been your last feeding of 3-12-12. Remove all but the largest bud where bud clusters exist. Disbudding provides larger but fewer blooms. Pick up blooms that fall to the ground to prevent diseases such as petal blight. If rains are heavy, cut back on watering. Just remember not to let your plants dry out if rains are not adequate.
- FUCHSIAS – Prune fuchsias. Hard pruning now will result in shapelier plans later in the season. Fuchsia only bloom on new wood, therefore they need to be cut back annually to produce new growth.
- BEGONIAS – Remove all dead leaves and debris from pots or beds. Watch for pests and spray for mildew. Go for the tuberous types this month and begin pruning the others. Trim back old growth. Start new canes from the cuttings. Repot to a larger size pot (generally once larger). Still water less, but do not let them dry out.
- BROMELIAD – Water your bromeliads less often during the cooler months. Continue to watch for freezing temperatures. When frost does occur, cover plants with an old sheet or DeWitt® N-Sulate Blankets. Do not use plastic covering; it won’t keep the heat in. Bring your more sensitive plants that are in pots in doors.
- IRIS – Fertilize for spring burst of blooms if you didn’t do so last month. Use a low nitrogen mix. Check for aphids that hide all winter at the base of leaves. It is best to use a systemic insect spray. Discard all dead leaves and weeds. Keep well watered if there are not adequate rains. Foliar feed for bigger and brighter colored blooms.
- FERNS – Water gently and don’t over water. Tim off dead fronds but not green ones. Fertilize staghorns with a high nitrogen fertilizer. Remove & remount pups. Sow spores.
- PLUMERIA – Continue to protect your plumeria from frost & freeze. Be sure to place them next to a building or under a covered patio if they are in pots. Bring plants inside in frost areas. Be sure to protect outside plumerias that are in ground with frost cloth when frost or freeze is expected. Do not fertilizer and only sparingly water plants that still have leaves. Leaves will eventually all drop off. Do not remove the inflorescences and seed pods. The growing season for plumerias will be upon us between late March and April.
- DAHLIAS – Prepare planting beds this month by turning the soil and adding humus. Dig in the humus and add equal parts of superphosphate or sulfate of potash. Mix this in well. Several weeks before planting add steer or chicken manure and water well. Just before planting scatter bone meal and blood meal over planting bed beds and cut in using a rake.
- CACTI & SUCCULENTS – For both winter and summer growers, begin to pot up one size any plants that appear to be overgrown or need refreshing. Clean up desiccated plant materials. Continue to protect from cooler temperatures.
- NATIVE PLANTS – When planting California Natives, dig a hole and fill with water several times, amend soil slightly and plant the root ball so that is an inch or two higher than the existing soil level. Cover with soil to create a little mound. Water again. Hose down your native garden once a week until the rainy season begins.
- ORCHIDS – Cymbidiums are some of the prettiest orchids this time of year and are in still in bloom. December – March. Many cymbidiums will have new spikes that will need to be staked. When you see flower spikes start, give plants more water. Orchids that show new growth and produce flowers in March & April will need light fertilizer and water.
- GERANIUMS – Water on a regular schedule. Allow excess water to drain away. Keep foliage as dry as possible and keep potted plants out of heavy rains. Continue to feeding. Continue to prevent pests and disease. Top pinch any plants that were not previously cut back; cut them back to one-half the stem length. Protect plants from freezing temperatures.
- BEING PREPARED – Make sure to secure any areas that may be susceptible to rain and wind damage. Use erosion control products such as straw wattles & straw Mats to prepare areas that are likely to erode.
- Protect your plants from FROST and MULCH! MULCH! MULCH!
- Reset your irrigation timer to water less frequently. However, don’t change the number of minutes the system waters each time. If your irrigation system is not equipped with a rain sensor or soil moisture sensor, be sure to turn off irrigation during times of lots of rain.
- Now is a perfect time to start planning on how you are going to save water in your landscape, if you haven’t already. Installing or retrofitting an existing irrigation system to utilize the most up-to-date technology will help you save water. Grangetto’s can help you make the SMART WATER CHOICE in your landscape. Call us or stop by your favorite location so we can help! Here are some water saving devices
- Be sure to follow your local watering restrictions and guidelines.
Pests to Watch out For
- SNAILS & SLUGS – Organic Sluggo® Plus, Original Sluggo® or Corry’s® Snail & Slug Meal or Pellets
- APHIDS – Control aphids with insecticidal soap and beneficial insectsSafer® Insect Killing soap is a good organic choice.
- LAWN PESTS – Use Bayer® Complete Insect Killer or Spectracide® Triazicide
- RATS & MICE – Use Tomcat Rodent bait, Victor Rat® and Mouse traps, and other baits and traps are available.
- GOPHERS – Use Wilco® Gopher Bait to rid your yard of gophers. Use Macabee wire traps in and around garden beds.
- CATERPILLARS – Use Safer® Caterpillar Killer, Monterey® Garden Insect Spray with Spinosad. Look these pests on your broccoli and cabbage!
- ROSE PESTS – Use Bayer® All-in-One Rose & Flower Care, Bayer® 3-in-1 Insect Disease and Mite Control or Neem Oil
- FRUIT TREE PESTS – Use Monterey® Garden Insect Spray to combat caterpillars and other listed pests on fruit trees, vegetables and ornamentals. It is OMRI listed for Organic Use too.
- WEEDS – Use Bonide® Crabgrass Preventer or Bayer® Season Long Weed Control in lawns. Use Green Light® Amaze in ornamentals & flower beds. For non-selective areas, use Roundup ®or QuickPro® products. Be sure to use a good sprayer such as Hudson® Sprayers. DeWitt® Weed Barrier Landscape Fabric prevents weeds without chemicals. It still allows air, water and nutrients to go through. Lay this fabric down before planting your gardens.
Note: All information provided is based on typical season, weather and environmental statistics. These tips are provided for information purposes only and to be used as a general guide. Products/Brands mentioned may be discontinued at anytime and not guaranteed in-stock. Grangetto’s invites you to contact us or visit one of our locations for more specific care instructions.