February Gardening Tips

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February Gardening Tips

We usually don’t think much about gardening during February, however there is a lot that can be done this month to get your garden ready for spring time. Below are gardening tips for your landscape, lawn and vegetable garden.


  • Annual winter weeds like henbit, chickweed and lawn burweed are common in the lawn during this time. To control these weeds, a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide with 2-4D can be used. Apply herbicides on a warm day in order to be more effective. Centipede grass is sensitive to 2-4D so apply at a lower rate. Before using any herbicide, read the product label and apply according to the label directions and follow good safety practices.
  • Do not apply “weed and feed” products. These contain both fertilizer and weed killer, but it is too early to fertilize warm season lawns such as Centipede, Bermuda, Zoysia and St. Augustine grass.
  • Tune up your lawn mowers and other lawn equipment to be ready for spring by sharpening, replacing blades and changing oil.

Trees, Shrubs and Flowers

  • Late February is the time to be pruning crape myrtles and other summer blooming shrubs (butterfly bush, lantana, gardenia, nandina, abelia) as these plants produce flowers on the new growth that occurs in the spring.
  • Be sure to prune back your roses to 3 to 5 healthy canes, 1 ½ to 2 feet above ground in late February into early March just as buds begin to swell.
  • February is a good time to cut back ornamental grasses. For shorter grasses cut to 4 to 6 inches in height. For pampas grass cut to a 6 to 12 inch height. Avoid cutting any new growth. Remember to wear gloves when cutting pampas and you can pull back the top with a rope to allow for easier cutting.
  • Do not trim hydrangeas. Their stems may look dead but they contain this spring’s flower buds.
  • Interested in propagating some plants. Now is the time to take hardwood cuttings from shrubs. Crape myrtles, viburnum and figs are very easy to root this way.
  • Prune shade trees and shrubs to remove dead, dying and diseased branches along with removing crossing branches.
  • Order spring planted bulbs such as caladiums and lilies.

Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs

  • Remember to prune fruit trees just before the buds begin to swell. Remove all dead and diseased branches. Prune out branches that are crossing or overlapping other branches and will shade out other branches, thus reducing fruit production and quality.
  • Start pepper, tomato and eggplant seeds indoors to have transplants ready in mid-April. These crops need direct light and warm temperatures above 60°.
  • Onion sets can be planted in the garden in February for harvest in May and June. Bee sure to plant short day varieties such as Candy, Granex (white), Stockton Sweet Red, Texas Early Grano and Yellow Granex.
  • Plant seed potatoes in the garden for harvest in late May-early June.
  • Start growing your own salad garden! Direct sow loose leaf lettuce, arugula, spinach, mesclun mixes, carrots and radish in the garden.
  • Direct sow other cool season vegetables such as beet, rutabagas, swiss chard, kale, mustard and turnip seed. Broccolli plants can also be set our during this time.

Learn More!

  • Subscribe to Wayne County Gardening e-newsletter and receive timely gardening information and announcements of upcoming extension gardening events.
    • To subscribe: Visit: http://go.ncsu.edu/subscribewcg. Scroll down to enter your email address in the “address” box and click on the subscribe button. You will then receive an e-mail which will direct you to a website to accept the subscription.
  • Visit our websites at waynecountyag.com and http://wayne.ces.ncsu.edu/
  • “Like” us on Facebook to receive timely garden tips, ask questions, and learn of upcoming gardening events. facebook.com/waynecountygardening

Jessica Strickland is an Agriculture Extension Agent, specializing in horticulture for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Wayne County. Horticulture program information can be found at http://wayne.ces.ncsu.edu/. Forward any questions you would like answered from this week’s column to Jessica.Strickland@waynegov.com.

Upcoming Wayne County Extension Gardening Programs

  • Listen to our new gardening radio show “What’s Growing with Jessica Strickland” on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. The show airs on WFMC 105.7FM & 730 a.m.