February Garden Checklist
February marks the final full month of meteorological winter. As days slowly grow longer, spells of unseasonably warm weather may fool people as well as plants into venturing out too soon. Winter still reigns in February, making it a month for gardeners to respond to the season’s challenges, plan for the growing year ahead, and tend to indoor plants and seed starting.
Garden To-Do List
De-ice with caution
If necessary, continue to use de-icing products on walkways and driveways. Because de-icing products may cause landscape and environmental problems, consider broadcasting sand on slippery surfaces. Be careful not to use too much sand, however, because it may clog catch basins and storm drains.
- Follow label directions when using de-icing products.
- Shovel snow before using de-icing products.
- When clearing driveways or shoveling walks, distribute snow loads equitably around trees, shrubs, and garden beds. Try to avoid piling treated snow on trees and shrubs.
- Find additional information on handling icy walkways and driveways
Continue to peruse seed, bulb, and nursery catalogs to help you plan your garden for the upcoming year. Another great source are the plant sales sponsored by local garden clubs, as well as sales held throughout the year at the Garden.
Avoid excessive walking on the lawn in winter. This can compress the soil and may damage grass that emerges in spring.
Tree and Shrub Care
Indoor Plant Care
Late February is a great month to …
Force indoor blooms from branches
With spring still a month away, why not create a spring preview indoors? Branches of select trees and shrubs with flowers or interesting foliage can be forced into bloom, providing they have had at least a six-week cold period. Good choices for forcing in late February and early March include apple and crabapple (Malus spp.), flowering cherry (Prunus), flowering quince (Chaenomeles), forsythia (Forsythia), magnolia (Magnolia), redbud (Cercis), serviceberry (Amelanchier), and spring-flowering witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis).
Try to force blooms as close to the plant’s natural bloom time as possible.
Cut branches when the temperature is above freezing. Branches should be at least 1 foot long and full of fat flower buds.
Prune carefully, using proper pruning techniques. Cut off only those branches that are not essential to your plant’s basic shape. (After all, you still want a dazzling show outside.) Soak branches overnight in a bucket or bathtub filled with room-temperature water.
To help branches quickly absorb water, make crosscuts in the stem ends or smash woody ends with a hammer. Arrange them in a bucket or vase and keep them in a 60-degree Fahrenheit room out of direct sunlight. Change the water every other day.
When the buds color up or the foliage begins to unfurl, arrange the branches in a vase and display them in a cool room, still out of direct sunlight.