This has been an unusually cold and wet winter, which means that while January is the ideal time to prune, February is still a good time to get those shears out and prune what you probably did not do last month. But don’t wait till March, particularly if the weather turns hot and dry. And keep up with the harvest of cool-season crops, such as peas, lettuces, and spinach. It will encourage more production.
Roses can still be pruned. Take out all crossing canes, dead canes, or any that look diseased. If any canes have grown below the graft union or bud union, get rid of them. And prune mature bushes to around 18 to 20 inches in height.
Cut back woody and overgrown perennials. If in doubt, look at the base of the plant. If it is sending up fresh growth there, you can safely cut off the dead or old plant material now. Cut back old foliage from ornamental grasses, liriope (monkey grass) and mondo grass to just a few inches high. And evergreens may still be pruned, but avoid pruning them later on this spring and summer.
Now is the perfect time for bare-root planting (plants without a root ball) There’s a whole host of bare-root plants available through mail order, but if you’re buying locally, roses, berry bushes, artichokes and ornamental trees should be available. For information on how to go about planting bare-root stock, also know as dry-root, check out my January 17, 2012 blog on the subject.
Fertilize roses and perennials at the end of the month and keep them watered. You can use chemical fertilizers (follow package directions on amount and frequency) or organic fertilizers, such as compost, fish emulsion, and others.
In the low desert and other hot areas, feed citrus, avocado, and deciduous trees now, but wait till next month in cooler coastal or higher zones.
To greatly reduce weeds, apply a pre-emergent weed killer to beds and borders. It works by preventing seeds from germinating, so don’t apply anywhere you’re planting seeds.
And for more information, check out February 2012, Monthly Gardner.