Pansies can be planted in the fall or spring. After a cool season display, winter cold causes fall pansies to go dormant. However, they reappear to join their spring-planted siblings as the temperatures climb.

What to do in February

Select and plant top quality roses. Choose between bare root and containerized plants. Check for healthy roots. Prune unhealthy roots from bare rooted roses before planting.

Plant cool season vegetables in relation to average last freeze dates: onions (six to eight weeks prior); broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts (four weeks prior); spinach, lettuce, radishes, turnips, and chard (two to four weeks prior).

Plant cool season annual flowers including pansies (photo at left), pinks, snapdragons, larkspurs, stocks, and alyssum.

Divide established summer and fall perennials including cannas, coneflowers, mallows, fall asters, and mums.

Finish planting pecan trees, fruit trees, and grapes.

Transplant established landscape shrubs and trees while they are dormant.

Prune roses in mid-February. Wait to prune climbing roses until late spring. Remove dead, dying, and weak canes.

Prune trees and evergreen shrubs before new growth begins. Do not top shade trees.

Generally fruit trees should be pruned. Peach, apricot, and plum trees should be pruned to a bowl shape. Prune "water sprouts" from apple trees. Pears and figs should be pruned little, if at all. Prune grapes by about 80%.

Reshape summer-flowering shrubs and vines to restore shape.

Remove tallest one-third of nandina stems to the ground to keep the plants low and dense. New shoots will sprout from the soil line.

Fertilize asparagus with high nitrogen plant food to promote vigorous spear growth.

Fescue and ryegrass should be fertilized with a 3-1-2 or 3-1-1 fertilizer at mid-month.

Don't fertilize newly transplanted trees or shrubs until after they have started to grow, and then only lightly the first year.

Fertilize pansies once again to continue flowering.

Be on the lookout
Check for spider mites on junipers, arbovita, and cedars. Watch for tanned needles, starting on the interior of the plants.

Look for scale insects on leaves, stems of hollies, euonymus, and shade trees. Treat with horticultural oil.

Watch for blackspot and powdery mildew on roses.

Miscellaneous chores
Apply broadleaf weedkiller to control non-grassy plants such as clover, henbit, dandelions, and chickweed. Apply on dry, calm days when temperatures exceed 65 degrees.

Apply pre-emergent weedkiller granules late in the month to prevent germination of crabgrass and grassburrs. Repeat application 90 days later.

    (c) 2007 - 2008 Howard County Master Gardeners