Warmer Weather: Good For Gardening

Even though many of our winter bloomers, like this honeysuckle, were burned by the cold last week they are continuing to bloom.

Now is the perfect time to freshen your pine straw areas and define the edges.

While the freeze got many of the daffodils in bloom, the ones falling over or bent need to be removed, and oftentimes there will still be a few late blooms.

Lenten roses seemed unaffected by the cold, but to show off the flowers either remove all the old leaves or just the damaged ones at the base.

For the next week things are looking good temperature wise with no freezing nights predicted. While some rain is predicted there should be some exceptional gardening days. As we start the month of February, this a good time to do chores that make the landscape have a more refined look. If all goes well I will cut my zoysia turf tomorrow, not to reduce the height of the sod but to get the last leaves, nuts and debris off the grass. This will give the yard a clean neat look. I have also just finished adding a fresh light layer of pine straw to give the beds a fresh look and cover up the old leaves and debris.
Many of my early spring bulbs are coming into bloom, and now is a good time to see if the bloom count is good or if they have been in place so long they have only a few blooms. Mark or remember the spots where they can be divided, as the foliage begins to die in late spring. And if you have spider lilies that need dividing, go ahead and do it now, as the foliage is beginning to yellow.
As my winter and early spring deciduous shrubs finish blooming, it is time to shape, cut back or trim. If you are trying to reduce the size of the plant, I suggest you trace the branches back to the base and remove the longest and crossed branches first. Once this is done you can determine if that is enough pruning or if you want to cut to the ground and generate all new stems. Many folks like to do this annually to plants like forsythia, winter honeysuckle, and deutzia that put up new shoots easily.
I cannot emphasize enough if you have not had a soil test in the past two years, do it now so if you have some soil issues that need attention, you can get a head start on correcting the problems.
Weeds seem to be popping up everywhere, and with the warmer temperatures ahead it is an ideal time to control them if possible. Buy a herbicide specifically to control the weed types you have and will not injure the areas you are spraying. Products that contain 2-4-D are common herbicides that will kill a broad spectrum of winter weeds. It will not kill Poa annua.
As soon as I can get my vegetable garden soil turned, tilled and amended, I will be planting onion sets, seeding spring kale, spinach and peas. In a couple of weeks I will seed lettuces and plant transplants of broccoli, cabbage and other cole crops.
So there is much to do, but remember the cleaner your garden looks as it comes alive, the more you will enjoy it.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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