February is a month where the weather can vary widely.
Even though it may still be cold, damp, snowy and sometimes miserable outdoors, occasionally Mother Nature will bless us with a day or two of sunshine, which inspires us to go outside and work in the yard.
Pruning and clean-up are always important jobs for February.
Remember, protecting your landscape from hungry deer is critical this month. Be sure to apply a repellant to make your plants less desirable.
Regardless of what the groundhog says, spring is still more than six weeks away from Feb. 2.
Week One
• Keep the water flowing or provide a heated birdbath for the birds during these wintery days.
Placing a few small rocks around the rim of the birdbath will allow the birds to drink without freezing their feet.
• Check bird feeders and refill them often during the winter, always remember to dispose of damp or spoiled seed.
Week Two
• When watering house plants be sure to rotate pots a half-turn every other week. This exposes foliage to improved light conditions and will eliminate bending of stalks and foliage to the light source.
• Use a pH meter to test soil of your indoor houseplants. Most houseplants like a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5. Use lime to raise pH and Espoma Soil Acidifier to lower pH.
Week Three
• Monitor your bulb gardens.
As soon as you see the tips of the plants starting to show, water weekly with water soluble fertilizer at half rate.
Continue to provide weekly fertilization until the bulbs come into bloom. This will provide the nutrients needed for the best flower show. I suggest Jack’s Classic blossom booster or Super Bloom for these feeding.
• Prune grape vines now, waiting much later than this will allow the vines to bleed, thus weakening the plants. No fruit is more dependent on proper pruning than grapevines.
Select a leader (a large cane that will support many shoots.) Small plants have only a few shoots, so prune until there are no more than two buds on a shoot. Excess buds should be removed before the plant emerges from dormancy in the spring.
• Raspberries and blackberries require pruning to be productive.
By removing old canes, your plant will be constantly stimulated to produce newer, more productive wood which will produce your fruit.
Over fertilization will not increase fruit production, but rather force lots of vegetative growth, this is why good pruning is important!
Remember when pruning small fruit to discard or burn the canes and vines. Dead wood is a host to many insect pests and diseases, so do not compost these debris.
Week Four
• Check and adjust the soil pH in the beds of shrubs, especially any that aren’t performing well. Azaleas and Rhododendrons and other acid loving plants all benefit from garden sulfur being added to the soil. PH should be between 4.5 and 5.5.
• Prune spring flowering trees now, spray oil and lime sulfur mix when temperatures are appropriate. (Above 35 degrees for a 24-hour period)
• Rose care begins now (4 to 6 weeks before they begin their spring growth). This week, check and adjust pH, roses prefer pH factor of 5.8 to 6.8. To raise pH mix five to 10 pounds of lime per 100 square feet. If pH is high, lower with Soil Acidifier at rate of five to 10 pounds per 100 square feet.
For any questions about your garden e-mail me at the nest@goeaston.net, and I will try to help you with our problem or answer your question.
(Editor’s Note: Ken Morgan is owner of Robin’s Nest Floral and Garden Center in Easton, Md.)