Southeast: February Backyard To-Do Listing


February is a month of paradox. It’s usually our coldest month and the one with the perfect likelihood of snow—but flowers bloom even in snow right here within the Southeast. You may really feel it: the gradual, candy shift of crops towards development.

rose pruning
It’s rose pruning month, so get out your pruners and prune now earlier than early spring development emerges. Photograph: Paula Gross

Sharpen up the pruners and prune. Likelihood is you’ve had a pleasant break from the labor-intensive aspect of gardening, and chances are you’ll be craving a bit motion. Nothing is extra gratifying in my guide than pruning, which is the robust love of gardening. February is your final likelihood for actually dormant pruning till subsequent winter, and something aside from spring-bloomers or bushes that bleed sap (akin to river birch (Betula nigra, Zones 4–9), maples (Acer spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), dogwoods (Cornus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), and elms (Ulmus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9) could be pruned now. However be sure you work first on these crops that require pruning particularly presently:

  • Roses (Rosa spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9)
  • Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum and cvs., Zones 5–8)
  • Figs (Ficus carica, Zones 8–10)
  • Grapevines (Vitis spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9)
  • Butterfly bushes (Buddleia spp. and cvs., Zones 5–9)
  • Chaste bushes (Vitex agnus-castus, Zones 6–9)
  • Different summer-blooming shrubs
black spo
Black spot and different ailments could be fought preemptively with a spraying of dormant oil in your roses. Photograph: Diana Koehm

Roses and fruit bushes? It’s time for a secure spray of dormant oil. Crops within the rose household, together with roses, peaches (Prunus persica, Zones 5–8), plums (Prunus domestica, Zones 5–9), cherries (Prunus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–8), and apples (Malus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–8) are usually fairly prone to a variety of ailments, together with fungal issues akin to black spot, scab, and fireblight, in addition to many soft-bodied bugs. Spray areas affected by these ailments and pests with a dormant oil spray earlier than they get an opportunity to develop with the warming situations of spring. Be certain you choose dormant oil particularly, then combine in response to directions and spray evenly earlier than buds start to interrupt.

You may take cuttings from many winter bloomers for an indoor show, akin to wintersweet. Photograph: Janet M. Jemmott

Usher in branches from aromatic winter bloomers. We’re graced with so many winter blooms right here within the Southeast! Whereas it’s a pleasure to walk and sniff within the backyard on a gentle day, don’t let any of that perfume go to waste; deliver a few of it indoors. Prune off branches with almost- to just-opened flowers from beauties akin to Japanese apricot (Prunus mume, Zones 6–9), witch hazel (Hamamelis spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox, Zones 7–9), and paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha, Zones 8–10) to stir your senses. Fill a bucket with lukewarm water, and put reduce ends in as you collect. Change the water in your vase each couple of days. In the event you’ve but so as to add winter bloomers to your backyard, make plans to. Go to botanical gardens to expertise the in depth palette of winter-blooming crops for our local weather. Make notes for spring or fall buying, because the crops received’t be in bloom then, and chances are you’ll overlook their charms.

saucer magnolia
Freezing temperatures could break the flowering shows of early bloomers like saucer magnolia (Magnolia × soulangeana, Zones 4–9) however won’t hurt the general well being of the tree. Photograph: Lynn Felici-Gallant

Be ready for freezing temperatures. The darker aspect of February’s blooms is the potential for exhausting freezes now and into March, which is able to flip the cheery pink petals of magnolias (Magnolia spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), camellias (Camellia spp. and cvs., Zones 6–10), and flowering cherries to rusty brown. Regardless of this potential heartbreak, it’s necessary to understand that hurt not often involves the shrubs or bushes themselves from frost, even when a part of the floral present is ruined. For smaller, prized specimens, it’s potential to make use of frost material to realize just a few levels of heat and avoid wasting flowers.

vegetable seeds
Begin cool-season veggies from seed this month. Photograph: Fionuala Campion

It’s time to seed the few cool-season veggies that do greatest with spring—fairly than fall—planting: peas, radishes, carrots, and potato tubers. In case your lettuce didn’t overwinter, sow a spring crop later within the month. The winter weeds shall be rising as nicely, so get a leap on them—and toss just a few, akin to dandelion and chickweed, into your salads for a standard spring tonic. Simply ensure you’re harvesting them in areas free of poisons.

—Paula Gross is the previous affiliate director of the College of North Carolina at Charlotte Botanical Gardens.