February Southern Garden Checklist

A green plant in a pot just beginning to grow.

Starting Seeds Indoors:

  • Before starting seeds inside, look up the last spring frost date in your area, then check the back of the seed packet for recommended planting dates.
  • Give seeds 12-16 hours of light daily. Supplement sunlight with grow lights if needed.
  • Place seeds in a warm spot between 65-75°.
  • Fertilize seedlings once they begin to grow. Use a diluted solution of a complete water-soluble fertilizer every other week. Follow mixing directions on the label.
  • Check seedlings that you may have started indoors for sudden wilting and rotted stems caused by damping off. This fungal disease causes young seedlings to collapse. Remove infected plants as soon as they are discovered. Drench the soil with a fungicide labeled for this use. Prevent this disease by using a sterile seed starter mix and clean containers.
  • For more information on starting seeds indoors.

Planting:

  • Plant seeds of cool-season annuals like larkspur and California and Iceland poppies outdoors when the soil is workable.
  • Start tuberous begonias indoors for earlier and summer long flowering in containers and the garden.
  • Plant transplants of cool-season annuals such as sweet alyssum, pinks, calendulas, snapdragons, and pansies as soon as they are available in the garden center.
  • Plant bare-root trees and shrubs as soon as possible and when the plants are still dormant for greatest success.
  • Plant container and balled-and-burlapped plants whenever they are available and the soil can be worked.
  • Fertilize early plantings with a slow release organic-nitrogen fertilizer like Milorganite.
  • Water new plantings thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil around the roots slightly moist.

Bulbs:

  • Fertilize established bulb plantings (outdoors) with Milorganite once the soil has thawed and the plants begin to grow. Fertilizing before flowers emerge stimulates leaf growth, which feeds the bulb after flowering.

Pruning:

  • Prune summer and fall blooming shrubs now until growth begins. Late winter/early spring pruning will not interfere with summer flowering and allows the plants to recover quickly.
  • Remove damaged, crossing and rubbing branches and prune young trees to establish a strong framework once the worst of winter has passed.
  • For more pruning tips visit the January checklist.

Landscape Care

  • Watch for frost heaving in the garden caused by freezing and thawing of the soil throughout the winter. This causes the soil to shift and can push some plants and bulbs out of the soil. Reset plants and bulbs as needed.
  • Dig and divide overgrown and crowded summer and fall blooming perennials as new growth emerges.
  • Cut ornamental grasses back to 4 to 6 inches before growth begins. Bind top growth of larger grasses with twine to make pruning and removal easier.
  • Late winter through early spring is a good time to transplant trees and shrubs. Start planting when the ground thaws and soil is moist.
  • Promote growth on trees and shrubs with spring fertilization of Milorganite.