How Does Your Winter Garden Grow?


FEBRUARY OFFERS PLENTY to do for gardeners. For starters, get ready for Valentine’s Day. Select a houseplant, such as an orchid, bromeliad, red anthurium or purple heart plant to make your sweetie feel special.

Winter in general is a great time to plant trees. They will have more time to settle in and grow roots before the intense heat of the summer stresses them out. Some good native choices include southern red oak, southern sugar maple, willow oak, southern magnolia and bald cypress. This is also a good time to fertilize the trees you already have, especially the younger ones. They will grow faster when fertilized annually.

Keep an eye on your azaleas this month for lace bugs. These pests cause foliage to have small white spots. You can control them with horticultural oil sprays and various pesticides. A late winter planting of petunias will provide colorful blooms for early spring.

February is also a good time to plant containers of bare-root roses. Make sure to soak the roots overnight in water before planting. Early planting allows rose bushes to become established in their new locations before they begin to bloom and release the signature scent. February is the perfect time to start seedlings indoors for broccoli, cauliflower, tomato, lettuce, onions, eggplant, pepper, herb and perennial flowers. Growing from seeds is inexpensive, rewarding and allows you more control over the growing process. It also allows you to eat organic produce without paying the grocery store price. Sow your seeds about six weeks before the estimated last date of frost in your area, but don’t start them too early.

Late winter is also an ideal time to plant cool season bedding plants. They’ll produce more colorful flowers and last longer than those planted in March and April. Forget-me-nots, sweet peas, pansies and larkspur are excellent choices for making your garden come alive.

Also, you might notice green patches on your lawn this month, but don’t be in a rush to fertilize just yet. Doing so would feed winter weeds and will result in lush turf grass growth that is susceptible to injury from late frosts.

So enjoy your garden even in the winter months and take advantage of any late mild and dry days

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