Ask a Master Gardener, February 2013

— Written By


By Joy Caron, Extension Master Gardener

 Now that you have earmarked your catalogs and placed your seed orders, it’s time to start watching for the bare-root plants coming into the nurseries and stores.  Best selections always go first!  Go ahead and plant them, using proper techniques and nourishment.

 While your garden is relatively bare, consider spots where you might like some winter interest – winter plants that provide texture and variations of color.

 Under the “weed and feed” category:

  • Fertilize cool-season grasses, such as fescue and bluegrass.
  • Don’t fertilize Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine or Zoysia grasses until March and April.
  • Apply an appropriate broadleaf herbicide to weedy areas on a warm day; read label carefully.
  • Most weeds are young enough to make hand-pulling an easy chemical alternative.
  • Now is the time to control spurweed with products containing the active ingredient dicamba.  Be sure to follow all label directions.  Again, hand-pulling is also effective now while there are no spurs.

Pruning guidelines include:

  • Prune summer and fall blooming plants such as althea, hibiscus, oleander, and abelia now.
  • Wait to prune spring blooming perennials such as azaleas, spireas, Indian hawthorn, forsythia, winter honeysuckle, and winter jasmine after flowers fade to keep flower buds for next year.
  • Prune roses mid-February to March; clean up leaves and clippings to prevent disease problems.
  • Trim liriope and mondo grass down to 2-3 inches, or just above any new growth.  You can trim with a lawn mower set high, or by hand for just a few plants.
  • Butterfly bush should be pruned in late winter/early spring.

Starting seeds:

  • Read seed packets for length of time from seeding to transplanting to determine when to start seeds indoors. Plants that love cool conditions can be planted indoors now.
  • Those that are frost sensitive need to be seeded about 4 to 8 weeks prior to the last average frost date.
  • The chance of frost in Zone 8A has usually passed after April 15th.  Young transplants can be protected from unexpected late frosts with a light layer of newspapers, plastic, or even a bed sheet.  Just be sure to remove it early in the morning.

If you didn’t winterize your outdoor power equipment, now is the time to fire them up, and take them in for any needed service before the spring rush.

Written By

Photo of Katy ShookKaty ShookArea Agent, Agriculture - Consumer Horticulture (252) 482-6585 katy_shook@ncsu.eduChowan County, North Carolina
Posted on Feb 11, 2013
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