February Gardening & Planting Tips

Our Garden Editor's advice for a healthy and thriving yard.

Grow Now: Roses
Add roses to your garden this month. consider disease-resistant shrub types such as the edtior's favorite, 'Carefree Beauty' (3 to 5 feet, pink); 'Knock Out' (4-6 feet, red); 'Cramoisi Superieur' (4 to 6 feet, red); amd 'The Fairy' (2 to 3 feet. pink). Plant them en masse for best results. Climbing roses such as 'New Dawn (pale pink), 'CI. Cecile Brunner' (pink), and 'Reve d'Or' (beige-yellow) need the support of a large trellis or arbor to best show off their blooms. A sunny location ensures the best blooms.

Fruit Plants
Purchase now for best selection. Try Southern favorites such as blackberries. ‘Kiowa’ is a large-fruiting selection with thorny stems. Thornless types such as ‘Arapaho’ and ‘Apache’ offer large fruit on upright plants. Other fruits include blueberries, figs, pears, muscadines, Oriental persimmons, and apples. All prefer full sun and well-drained soil.

Soil Prep
The mild days of winter are an ideal time for improving your soil. Work the ground when it is dry, using a garden fork to loosen the soil. Add organic matter, such as chopped leaves’ composted manure, or mushroom compost to improve fertility and drainage.

Forcing Branches 
Quince, forsythia, cherries, winter honeysuckle, and deciduous magnolias will bloom indoors with a little help. Choose stems with flowerbuds that have begun to swell. Cut stems at an angle, and place in a bucket of water. Indoors, recut stems, and place in a container of warm water with a floral preser- vative. Place in a cool spot in indirect light. When you begin to see color in the flowerbuds, move them to a brighter room.