February Gardening Tips


Planning:

  • Continue to use garden notes, photos and sketches to assess areas which need plants
  • Finish ordering seeds
  • Continue to order plants from nursery catalogues for later delivery

Chores and Maintenance:

  • Check on winter plant protection; add mulch and adjust plant stakes as necessary
  • Continue to inspect ornamental trees and shrubs for scale insects
  • Use wood ashes from the fireplace as a good source of potash
  • Avoid the use of salt to melt snow, as it is toxic to most plants. Use sawdust, sand or cat litter instead
  • Check on dahlias, cannas and gladiolus bulbs for rotting and/or drying out
  • Keep bird feeders filled throughout winter

Planting:

  • Take cuttings of indoor plants now to use as bedding plants in the late spring; e.g. lantana, geranium, coleus, heliotrope, fuschia, begonia etc.
  • Sow seeds of annuals which require a long growing season, e.g. lobelia, petunia, vinca, browallia, snapdragon, verbena, etc.

Pruning/Fertilizing:

  • Continue to prune away storm-damaged branches promptly. This prevents tearing of the bark
  • Prune forsythia, pussy willow, quince, etc. for forcing indoors
  • Prune summer and fall blooming shrubs

Indoors:

  • Continue to give houseplants increased humidity; mist often or place plants over a tray of moist pebbles
  • On frigid nights continue to protect indoor plants from freezing; move them away from the glass or cover glass with thick newspaper or cardboard
  • Continue to clean leaves of large and smooth leaved houseplants like dracaena, philodendron, ficus, etc.
  • Inspect houseplants for insect pests. Remove pests by hand and spray with insecticidal soap if needed
  • Clean clay pots by soaking overnight in a solution of 1 gallon water, 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup bleach

* These gardening tips are applicable for the southeastern New York region - USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6a and 6b which include New York City, northern New Jersey, Rockland county, Westchester county, southern Connecticut and parts of Long Island. Plant hardiness zones refer to geographic areas where the growing season of plants is determined by the time of killing frosts in the spring and fall. If you live in a more southerly plant hardiness zone, you can start gardening earlier in the season or in more northerly zones, you can start later. Even within zones, climatic factors such as altitude, proximity to water, wind exposure, winter sun exposure and snow cover contribute to the existence of different "microclimates" and can influence plant adaptability.

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