February‘s Southern California Gardening Tips

February is the perfect time to prepare your soil for spring planting and to prune shrubs and trees. Even though the weather may be warming, don’t forget the possibility of  a sudden freeze, so continue to protect your plants.

Flowers & Vegetables
Time to prepare vegetable and flower beds for spring gardens by using lots of organic matter like compost, peat, aged manure, or cottonseed meal. Water your garden beds thoroughly to make digging up easier, wait a day for the water to drain, then add a 4-5 6 inch layer of organic matter into the top 12 inches of garden soil. This is a good time to mix in a phosphorous fertilizer. You can sow seeds for beans, beets, carrots, swiss chard, leaf lettuce, onions, potatoes, radishes, spinach, and set out transplants of peppers and tomatoes in most areas, after 20th of February.

Trees and Shrubs
February is fertilizing time for fruit, nut, shade trees and shrubs and vines. Prune only to shape and control growth and only prune off frost damaged portions after new growth as started. You can plant container-grown shrubs and trees in most parts of the southwest and you can transplant bare root deciduous fruit trees. Don’t forget to water large trees such as pine, sycamore, cottonwood, and mesquite by slowly soaking the area under the tree branches.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to clean out dead or diseased wood in roses and remove weak and crossing canes and old leaves to discourage insects and disease.  Bare-root roses should be put in the ground this month, the earlier the better. Use plenty of organic material mixed with soil to give your roses a good start. Fertilize established roses with granular fertilizers about the middle of the month, but water the day before and after each application.

Ryegrass should be watered about once or twice a week depending on the weather, while Bermuda grass just needs water about once a month. Bermuda will begin to turn green when nighttime lows climb to 65 degrees. Keep rye grass lawns mowed to 1 1/2 inches before watering. Do not water lawns during the night or mow the lawn when the grass is wet.