February 2023

Cover image – Viola, also called heartease – for February, National Heart Month.

There is not very much maintenance or tasks the must be done in the Southwest garden in February, just enjoy the season and any flowers you have.  Tidy up some things – especially in Low or Middle Desert.  Upper Elevations – you get to chill (pardon the pun).

Speaking of Flowers

I often speak of flowers – like in the Free Live Presentation for the Sun City West Garden Club on Tuesday February 14 2023. 

And meanwhile – Edible Flowers is the topic this week on Savor the Southwest.

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Let’s Talk About the Weather

Please make note of the Last Frost post I did last week. Depending on where you are in our Southwest – it will guide you as to tasks that must be done.

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Pruning & Maintenance for February

No need to prune anything except roses and young deciduous fruit trees you are training (not citrus!). Prune them as early in February as you can.

In general though – don’t prune anything. Leave frost nipped branches on lantana and bougainvillea until spring. This protects from further frost damage. Seriously – No need to prune anything! Leave frost nipped branches in place until after last frost date for your area.

Water

Water in the desert is a winter chore, especially in Low and Middle Desert elevations. Give everything in your garden at least one good deep soak sometime this month, maybe even more it it is windy in your corner of the world. Drought stresses plants and can cause them to succumb to disease more easily as the temperatures heat up.

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These two pines (Alepo on L, Eldarica on R) come to us from climates that get winter rains. Be sure to water them in winter so they can better survive the summer.

Fertilizer for February

Deciduous plants will start actively growing as the soils warm. The roots may be working even if you don’t see shoots. Some of these need fertilizer late in February. Avoid fertilizer on plants with tropical genes! This includes plants like cacti, citrus, yellow bells, loquat, and bougainvillea. If plants put on new growth too early in the year, a late frost can harm them.

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If you have flowering annuals that are cold tolerant, then fertilize them once a month. Photo courtesy All-America Selections.

Fertilizer After Mid-February

Fertilize established deciduous fruit trees, like plum, apricot, almond.
Fertilize established roses and grapes.
Optionally fertilize spring bulbs (narcissus, daffodil) with a bloom fertilizer.

February Garden Tasks

Catch and remove winter weeds as they germinate.  Some weeds can be eaten!  That’s over on Savor the Southwest.
Plant annual color plants like pansies or carnations from the nursery.
Prune your roses.
Plant native perennials like desert marigold, globe mallow, penstemon, evening primrose, from seedlings from the nursery.  Seeds should have been planted last autumn.
Fertilize your winter rye lawn once monthly.

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Verbena is a lovely groundcover that butterflies appreciate. It can be planted this month in all but upper elevations.

Plant short day onions and garlic.
Not to late to plant some of those sale flowering bulbs.
Water wildflower beds if you don’t get rain.
Plant new grape vines.
Start the spring vegetable seeds indoors (tomatoes, squash, sunflowers).
Harvest and enjoy your winter herbs like cilantro and dill.

Overall

There is not very much maintenance to do in the garden this month, just enjoy the season and the flowers you have, and some planting you can do.

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Need Some Garden Help?

May I recommend my (out of print) book?  The Month By Month Guide offers tips for your landscape (yes even lawns and roses) in every month of the year.  I have a few copies left and am offering them to you – my loyal readers. Price is what you would pay on Amazon – only when you buy from me you get a signed copy!soule-books-buy

From the review:

“A great reference book is key to successful gardening in the region where you live. Arizona, Nevada & New Mexico Month-by-Month Gardening takes the guesswork out of gardening for anyone residing in the Southwest. With this book, you’ll know what to do each month to enjoy a thriving garden all year, from January to December. Chronologically organized, this guide is full of critical gardening when-to and how-to advice, along with illustrated step-by-step instructions.

The book’s author is Jacqueline Soule, a Tucson-based gardening expert. She knows this arid region inside and out, and she’s written several articles and books packed with her gardening advice. Arizona, Nevada & New Mexico Month-by-Month Gardening showcases Soule’s expertise in one easy-to-read guide.”

Profits from the sale of this book go to the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute.

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