Monthly To-do Lists
The Hill Country Gardener
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Monthly To-do Lists


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WHAT SHOULD BE DONE EACH MONTH IN THE GARDEN. 

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February

Birds and Wildlife

The goldfinches are beginning to show color and seeds are sparse in the field, encouraging the seed-eaters to frequent your feeders.  The cedar waxwings will join the mockingbirds and other fruit-eaters in cleaning up the last of your yaupon holly, nandinas, and pyracantha berries.

Color

Mid-February is rose-pruning time (Valentines Day remember?) Leave 4-5 pencil-width stems arranged  around an open center. Reduce height to approximately 36 inches. Begin your insecticide and fungicide weekly sprays if your roses are prone to black spots and bugs. Fertilize with rose food or slow-release lawn fertilizer.
Do not cut back the daffodils until the leaves turn brown. It doesn't matter with tulips; they are an annual in the San Antonio area.
Divide summer , fall blooming perennials, including cannas, mallows, fall asters, mums, coneflowers, and perennial salvias before growth begins.

Fruits and Nuts

Pruning is the key activity for fruit trees. The trees need to be opened up to allow sun, air, and pesticides to penetrate.  Use thinning cuts (whole branch) rather than hedging cuts (mid-branch) peaches and plums to an open vase shape, apples and pears to a modified central leader shape.

Ornamentals

Fertilize winter bedding plants such as pansies, snapdragons, calendulas, dianthus with a slow-release lawn fertilizer at the rate of 1 pound per 10 square feet of bed area.

Shade Trees and Shrubs

February is the ideal time to fertilize healthy trees. A simple calculation is based on trunk diameter; use one pound of a high nitrogen fertilizer (slow release type such as 19-5-9) per inch diameter of tree trunk. Spread the fertilizer evenly throughout under the drip zone of the tree. Fertilize evergreen trees, such as live oak, at the rate of 1-3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of root area. Fertilize deciduous trees (oaks, cypress) at the rate of 6-8 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
This is a good month to plant trees and shrubs. Fall and winter are better, but February still gives the root systems time to become established before the stress of summer sets in. Dig the hole as deep as the  container and 2-3 times as wide. Add back the native soil and cover with 3 inches of mulch leaving a 6 inch clearance around the trunk. Consider cedar elm, Chinese pistache, bur oaks, Montezuma cypress, Arizona  cypress, Monterrey oak, and desert willow for planting. Water deeply once per week.

Prune trees and shrubs this month. Paint wounds larger than ¾ inch on oaks.

Use oak leaves for mulch in the gardens or add them to the compost pile.
Use Bt or Sinosad to control caterpillars on mountain laurel.
Remove browned tissues from Asian jasmine, liriope and mondograss. Reshape lanky nandinas by pruning the tallest one third of canes back to within 2 inches of the ground. New shoots will fill in from beneath.
Wait for a time period that will ensure temperatures above freezing for at least 48 hours to apply a dormant oil spray to euonymus, hollies, oaks, pines, pecans, and fruit trees which are prone to scale. To prevent damage, cover any actively growing flowering annuals or overseeded lawn areas to avoid contact with the dormant oil spray. Follow label directions carefully to ensure good results without damage.

Turf Grass

There is a lot to do for your lawn, but fertilizing is not one of them. Wait until April or May. Don't use weed-and-feed products. All that are growing now are the weeds and there is no need to fertilize them, is there?
Grass is still dormant.  Don't waste water and fertilizer. You can, however, still aerate and top-dress. Spring weather and fall fertilization determine when grass greens up in the spring, not excessive watering or spring  fertilization.
This is a good month to apply pre-emergent herbicides to prevent warm weather weeds.
"Scalp" the lawn late in the month to remove winter killed stubble. Just set the mower down one or two notches.
Apply broadleaf weed killer on warm days to eliminate henbit, chickweed, dandelions, clover and non-grassy weeds.

Vegetables

Pot-up your tomatoes and peppers into 1-gallon pots to maximize growth before stable weather arrives. For tomatoes, the "hot" named tomatoes do well in this area. Move the plants into cover if cold weather is predicted. Plant the potted-up plants in April.  Plant radishes, spinach, beets, carrots, and onion sets this month.
Perk up your garden with the addition of rotted manure or compost. Two to four inches spread over the surface and tilled to a depth of 8-12 inches will improve the spring garden.
February is the month to begin spring gardens with crops such as asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower (transplants only), Swiss chard, collards, kohlrabi, lettuce (leafy), mustard, Irish potatoes, radish, and turnip.  Use disease free transplants of recommended short day onion varieties such as 1015Y or Granex (Vidalia). Onion transplants can be mail ordered from http://dixondalefarms.com. if plants cannot be found in local nurseries.  Use a pre-planting application of a slow release fertilizer at the rate of 2-3 pounds per 100 square feet of planting area.


This page was last updated: October 3, 2016