February Tips and Tasks

— Written By
Prune back ornamental grasses and ground covers in early February before new growth starts. Add mulch to beds if needed.
Scale can be a problem on hollies and other shrubbery both outside and on indoor houseplants. Scale are small, hardbodied insects that often look like bumps on the bark or leaves of the plant. Scale on landscape plants can be treated with horticultural oils. Follow the label directions and use the spray rate recommended for the time of year. Acephate (Orthene), carbaryl or insecticidal soap can also be used. Insecticidal soap is a good choice for scale on houseplants. A second treatment after two weeks is generally needed to control newly emerged scale insects. With any product, read and follow all label directions and remember that thorough coverage is critical for control.
Plants naturally change color in the winter and even evergreens like azaleas, gardenias, and camellias can experience yellowing. Older leaves naturally yellow and drop off. If azaleas are discolored and the leaves show stippling (tiny discolored spots), spider mites could be the culprit. Spider mites can be controlled with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap.
Dormant pruning of fruit trees and grapevines should be done in February as should heavy pruning and rejuvenation pruning of most ornamental shrubs. Remember to wait and prune spring flowering shrubs such as azaleas and forsythia after they bloom.
If you are using a preemergent herbicide to control summer annual weeds (including crabgrass) in your lawn, aim to apply it around Valentine’s Day. If these chemicals are applied too late, you will not get adequate weed control. Read and follow all label directions. Avoid weed-and-feed formulations and wait until mid-May to June to fertilize warm season lawns.
If you are battling Florida betony, remember to apply herbicides in February before the plant starts developing its distinctive tubers.
Remove leaves and debris from lawns. Do not burn St. Augustine, centipede, or zoysiagrass lawns. Irrigation is usually not necessary during the winter months. The optimum time to seed or lay sod for a warm season lawn is in the spring from about April until July 1.
Plan your spring vegetable garden. Cool season crops need to be planted early enough to harvest before the heat of summer hits. Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, onion, garden peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, and turnips can all be planted in February for spring harvest. Start seeds for warm season crops like tomatoes and peppers under lights 6-8 weeks before you intend to transplant them outside.