From Les Lutz, Director of Horticulture:
February is the time to begin reading and ordering from seed, bulb, and nursery catalogs. These will help in planning your garden for the upcoming year. As your plans develop, place orders for seeds and bulbs.
Warm and dry winter weather will stress plants. Watering during a dry fall helps plants survive the winter. During periods of winter thaw, water evergreens, broadleaved evergreens, and conifers as needed. Water newly planted trees and shrubs and all plants, including turf that might be in the path of salt spray from salted roads.
When necessary, for safety, use potassium or calcium-based de-icing products on walkways rather than sodium-based products. Sand can be a good alternative to salt on slippery surfaces. Always clear snow before applying any product.
To enjoy an early spring indoors, cut branches of trees and shrubs for forcing. Branches with interesting foliage, as well as flowering branches, can be forced. Prune carefully, cutting off only those branches that are not essential to the plant’s basic shape, and use proper pruning techniques. Ideally branches should be at least 1 foot long and full of flower buds. Cut on a day when temperatures are above freezing. Lay the branches in a bathtub filled with room-temperature water. Keep branches in a cool room out of direct sunlight and change the water every other day. When the buds color up or the foliage begins to unfurl, arrange the branches in a vase and display them in a cool room out of direct sunlight.
Some choices for forcing this month
• Serviceberry (Amelanchier)
• Magnolia species (Magnolia)
• Flowering quince (Chaenomeles)
• Forsythia (Forsythia)
• Crabapple or apple (Malus)
• Flowering pear (Pyrus)
• Flowering cherry (Prunus)
• Honeysuckle (Lonicera)
• Witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis)
• Redbud (Cercis)
February is an ideal time to do pruning of large woody plants, weather permitting. Flowering trees and shrubs can be pruned following spring flowering to avoid sacrificing spring flower display. Fruit trees should be pruned in late February or early March.
If we have a large snow event, gently sweep snow from evergreens with a soft broom and then elevate the branch from underneath. Avoid using sharp objects like shovels to remove snow on trees as you risk damaging the bark and creating a point of entry for disease or insects.
If weather is unusually warm, avoid pruning trees that will “bleed,” or discharge large amounts of water, such as elms, maples, and birches. Prune these trees only when weather is quite cold or in summer. Immediately prune out broken or damaged branches.