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What To Do In The Garden In February

What To Do In The Garden In February

February just may be the most challenging month in the garden year. This is the month when we often experience the most extreme winter weather, and even if you live in a more mild climate, it’s still not quite the time to plant those warm season plants. So, what to do? More than you might think! Use this checklist to stay on task, but remember — always check with your local extension office for best times for planting and pruning in your specific area.

February Garden Chores & Activities

  1. Clean up the garden. There is still time to get your garden cleaned up before the spring gardening fever strikes! That means lots of things — trimming back frost-bitten perennials and grasses, removing and disposing of any dead or diseased plant, tidying up your beds, organizing your shed/greenhouse, repairing tools (including your lawn mower!), and picking up any trash/dog toys/kids’ toys. You’ll be amazed at how good this makes you feel.
  2. Start seeds. Whether you plant annuals, veggies, or perennials, you can start seeds indoors. You’ll have to do a little basic math to know when to start the seeds of the different varieties you want to plant, but it’s very easy to do. Look at the seed packet and locate the number of days it takes that plant to develop into full-sized plants, then use that information to count backwards from your last expected frost date. Your goal is to have small plants ready to go outside in the garden when it’s time to plant them. 
  3. Prune roses. Have you ever heard the old garden tale that says to prune your roses on Valentine’s Day? In general, it’s true! Late winter, while the roses are still dormant, is the perfect time to remove about 1/3 of your rose bushes. Remove any branches that are dead, diseased, crossing over another branch, or growing in towards the center. Your aim is to improve the form, healthy growth, and air circulation of your roses so they can continue to thrive and bloom with abundance.
  4. Inspect houseplants. The dry winter months are the perfect environment for scale, spider mites, mealybugs and other houseplant pests. Each time you water, give them a quick once-over and be prepared to treat with insecticidal soap or houseplant insecticide. We also love placing them in the shower occasionally for a rinse off! It’ll remove dust on leaves, create valuable humidity, and give your plants a drink all at the same time.
  5. Feed the birds. It may be slim pickings for birds out there right now, as their natural food sources may be difficult to find. Provide bird seed, beef suet, black oil sunflower seeds, and plenty of fresh water. Use a variety of feeders including tube, platform, and hopper feeders to accommodate as many types of feathered friends as possible. If you’re in a very cold area, consider adding a heater to your birdbath to keep the water from freezing.
  6. Plant bulbs. Okay, as you might imagine, this one comes with a bit of a caveat. If you have bulbs that ideally would’ve been planted in the fall/early winter, you can plant them now as long as your ground isn’t frozen. If you can physically dig that hole, you’re probably good to go. February is pushing it, but if it’s a choice between planting late or losing the viability of those bulbs, we say plant ‘em!
  7. Start a garden journal. What better time to journal than in February? Starting this journaling habit in a month that’s relatively slow in the garden is a good way to get that routine down. Write down your plans for this year’s garden, seeds you started, the dates you performed particular garden chores, and sources for your seeds/plants/bulbs. Getting and staying organized in February will help keep you on track in the crazy days of April and May when you hit the ground running every day.

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  • Jenny Peterson