February To-Do List for Your Southern California Garden

Written by Susan B.

There is nothing about our Southern California weather that reminds us it’s February or that we’re still in the midst of winter. But Valentine’s Day serves as that reminder — even if it doesn’t give us much of an indication of what garden chores we ought to do this month. We’re coming up with some suggestions that may give you ideas to incorporate into your own monthly February To-Do’s. 

Take Cuttings of Succulents

If the pleasant weather gave you a belated holiday gift of lush-looking, healthy, big succulents, now is the ideal time to take cuttings from them. You can fill in bare spots in your garden or plant the cuttings in containers so you can have potted succulents as houseplants. You can also share your extra cuttings with friends, family members, or neighbors.

If you’re going to transplant them in your backyard or garden, find a spot in the bright sun. Make sure you plant the cutting in well-drained soil. Secure the cutting firmly in the soil. If the soil is moist already, don’t water it. If it is bone dry, water it before you plant the cutting. 

If you want to plant cuttings in containers so you can have them inside your house, choose a cactus and succulent mix. Make sure the pot you choose has drainage holes in the bottom. Don’t water the growing mix. 

If you’re worried about whether your cuttings will root, you can dip them into the water and dip the cut end into rooting hormone. The rooting hormone will help the cutting root faster. You’ll know that your potted succulent cutting is rooted if you try to wiggle it in the soil, but it’s too firmly established in place to wiggle easily. 

Plant Flowering Vines

The Baja native, San Miguel Coral Vine (Antigonon leptopus), produces flower sprays that are either bright pink or pure white. Flowers start blooming in summer and continue into the fall. It needs to grow in full sun and receive regular watering. 

Vegetables to Plant in February 

The gardening experts at Sunset recommend planting the following vegetables: beets, carrots, collards, fava beans, kale, leeks, lettuce, parsley, peas, rutabaga, spinach, and turnips. 

Plant Blueberries 

Southern Highbush cultivars do best in our area. Three cultivars to look for are ‘Jubilee,’ ‘O’Neal,’ and ‘Sunshine Blue.’ Grow your blueberries in containers to get the healthiest and heaviest-producing plants. And plant blueberries in an acid-rich potting mix. Place the pot in a spot where it gets no less than ½ day of full sun, but preferably, a full day of sun. Water blueberries deeply after planting, and then give them regular fertilizer applications. 

Plant More Cool-Season Annuals

Plant cool-season annuals to get a spectacular Spring flower display. For sunny spots, consider planting Iceland poppies, pansies, violas, linaria, stock, flowering cabbage, flowering kale, ranunculus in the ‘Bloomingdale’ series, schzanthus, and English daisies. For shady areas, think about bedding cyclamen, cineraria, Chinese, English, or fairy primrose cultivars. 

Uncommon ‘spring-only’ annuals that will give your garden a flash of color in March and April include candytuft, annual mimulus, annual nemesia, shizanthus, and torenia. 

Annuals grow fast, and they can be heavy flower producers, so they need to be fertilized more often than many other garden plants. Annuals require continuous deadheading to keep them blooming. And keep your garden beds well weeded to ensure the health and productivity of your plants. 

Azaleas Shrubs

Azaleas should have some buds by February, and they’ll start to swell this month. The buds of some Azalea hybrids may already be open. Feed your Azaleas aggressively with a fertilizer high in phosphorus. Continue to feed them with a phosphorus-rich fertilizer until they stop blooming. Once your shrubs stop blooming, switch to fertilizer for Azaleas (higher acidity.) Early-blooming cultivars can’t tolerate heavy rain. It will turn the flowers to mush. Cover your early-bloomers with plastic or with an umbrella pounded into the ground. 

Bearded Iris Bulbs

February is a transitional period for bearded iris plants. They’re starting to get new growth but might be molting (like birds when they shed their old feathers) at the same time. When leaves are entirely brown, tug gently to remove them. Fertilize bearded irises with well-balanced organic plant food. Feeding irises will help encourage new growth and promote flowering. 

Maintenance

Trim ornamental grass before it gets new growth. Pull the blades together and tie twine around the clump about 12-inches above the ground. Cut the clump off, leaving 4-to-6 inches of growth above the ground. Throw the cut blades into your compost heap. 

Aerate Lawn

Grass gets compacted from heavy traffic. If your kids play outside, their constant running on it encourages compaction. That prevents the ground from absorbing water. And water that isn’t going into the ground is wasted. Use a coring machine to remove plugs from the soil. There will be holes here the machine pulled out plugs. After you’ve aerated the entire lawn, fill the holes with worm castings or well-rotted compost. 

February is an excellent time to plant gladiolus bulbs. Stagger plantings every two weeks to get the longest possible bloom time. Now is the time to start buying summer-blooming bulbs. You can also buy or order vegetable plant seeds so you have them before you’re ready to plant. 

Since our gardens are active all year, there is never a time when you shouldn’t be mindful of weeds. Keeping weeds at bay is the best way to ensure that your plants stay healthy and productive. Use mulch to suppress weed growtth and minimize the amount of manual weeding you have to do. 

We realize that we’re living through some extraordinary times, and circumstances make it difficult to conduct our affairs as we always have. We will always comply with governmental recommendations and mandates to ensure your safety and that of our entire Green Thumb family.  We encourage you to call our stores to inquire about our inventory or to place orders for curbside pickup. The Green Thumb team is always eager to serve our customers.

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