We are still in the midst of winter but fortunately our winters are mild compared to those in our Northern states. Here are some tasks that might keep your gardener engine purring this busy gardening month.
- Mowing season will begin soon. Are your tools ready? You still have time to do maintenance on your mower, trimmer, and other garden tools. If this seems like a task within your skill level, most manufacturers provide online step-by-step instructions on what to do. Many also provide videos to walk you through it. If you are still intimidated or just too busy, there are local maintenance shops who can help.
- The average last freeze date in Fort Bend County is February 14th (Happy Valentines Day!). After that date, it is safe to lay new sod. Whether you have just a few places that need to be covered or an entire yard to put down, do it now before it gets too hot! Mississippi State has some recommendations for laying sod that might help.
- You still have time to put in one last crop of cool season vegetables. Carrots, radishes, lettuce and the like can still be planted before it warms up.
- The planting season for warm season vegetables is right around the corner. Before it arrives, clean up the garden beds and prepare them for planting.
- This is the best time for planting fruit trees. You might come to the Fort Bend Master Gardeners Annual Fruit Tree Sale to buy one but, if you miss that, there are other options. (However, the other options probably won’t include master gardeners’ guidance.) Just make sure to plant it correctly. Use these Earth-Kind® instructions for planting a tree to help ensure success.
- Trim your perennial ornamental grasses back to 6 – 10 inches tall. This will rejuvenate the grass and make them more attractive when they start growing.
- This month is a great time to divide your perennial ornamental grasses. If one is getting too big, just dig up the clump and use a sharp spade to divide it vertically. Presto! You now have two (or more!) plants where you previously had just one. Then, plant each in the place of your choice.
- Mulch, mulch, mulch! Experts estimate gardens without mulch lose as much as two-thirds of any water applied through evaporation. An organic mulch, such as wood chips, helps to enrich the soil with organic matter as it decays making the soil richer over time. The depth of mulch varies depending on the type of mulch applied. Learn more about this Ten Ways to Make Your Landscape Earth-Kind®.
- While we are anticipating warmer weather, we also need to be thinking about how we will irrigate when it comes. Whether you have an automated irrigation system or not, you will want to learn the Best Management Practices for irrigation.
- Pruning is probably one of the tasks you want to accomplish this month. It helps keep your trees and shrubs looking healthy and can be good exercise for you. Use these Earth-Kind pruning techniques for best results.
February Color in Fort Bend County
Spring is almost here. Get some February color in your garden with these beauties.
- Roses: As you drive around town, you can see many roses blooming. Once considered difficult to grow, there are now many varieties of roses that are considered easy care with very long bloom seasons. Some are even Earth-Kind®!
- Carolina Jessamine: This flowering vine is a native evergreen with yellow blooms throughout fall, winter and spring.
- Winter Honeysuckle: This deciduous shrub is known for its off-season fragrant blooms that come out in late winter and early spring.
- Calla lily: With blossoms in many colors, the blooms make great cut flowers. With proper care, it is a perennial.
- Bougainvillea: To be honest, this tropical shrub doesn’t have any idea when not to bloom. The good news is its blooms come in many colors and it works well in planters by pools and patios; the bad news is it has thorns and can be a vigorous grower requiring regular pruning.
- Chinese Fringe Flower: This evergreen shrub bears white to pink flowers in late winter and early spring. Encourage blooms with small regular pruning.
You might also want to visit the Fort Bend County Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Gardens at the AgriLife® Extension office in Rosenberg to be inspired by what is blooming there.