GARDENER COLUMN: February duties to assist put together for spring gardening | House & Backyard


Once you have your starting station ready, it’s time to plant. Start your petunias, impatiens, pansies, and geraniums from seeds in February as they are slow growing. If you plant them now, they will be big enough to plant outside once the threat of frost is over. You can also start with leeks and onion seeds in the second week of February. If you haven’t already, do a quick inventory of your seeds. Seeds are in stores now and if you want something special it is best to shop early.

It’s also time to plant the bulbous begonias and caladias that you’ve stored over the winter or recently purchased. Start the begonias first as it will take a little longer to grow. If you’re planting in clay pots, soak the pots in water until you’re ready to use them. When the pots are dry, the moisture is quickly drained from your potting soil. When you are getting your begonias and caladias out, take the time to examine your cannas, dahlias, geraniums and other stored bulbs, tubers and rhizomes for spoilage.

When the weather permits, prune your dormant trees and summer flowering shrubs such as the Annabelle hydrangea, the rose of Sharon, the butterfly bush, the Russian sage and many more. If you’re not sure which of your shrubs will bloom in summer, check out this list from the University of Wisconsin Horticulture – Department of Expansion, and vines. If you need to prune your apple trees, make sure the air temperature is above freezing and that it isn’t wet or snowy. If necessary, wait until March or early April before breaking the buds. When examining your trees and shrubs, pay attention to what needs to be pruned, including mummified fruits, galls, and tufts of eggs on your trees and shrubs. If you find any, remove them and destroy them. If you find fire blight on your apple or pear trees, they should also be removed. Unfortunately, there is no cure for fire blight, but the best way to limit the spread is by pruning while you are resting. Trim six to eight inches below the diseased area. When pruning fire blight, always disinfect your cutting tool between cuts by soaking it in a 10% bleach solution for at least 30 seconds or by spraying it with a disinfectant that contains at least 70% alcohol. Remember that your pruning tools should always be disinfected after each tree or shrub, even if you’re not cutting out diseased plant material.