February is a great month for planting shrubbery, small trees, new rose bushes, hardy annuals (such as foxglove, pansies, sweet peas, petunias, and baby’s breath) and blueberries. It’s also a good time for pruning summer-flowering shrubbery, cutting back overgrown shrubbery and trees, and mulching shrubbery. When cutting back liriope, set your mower blade to the highest setting.
To prevent summer weeds, apply pre-emergence herbicides during the last half of February, and spray winter weeds with approved herbicides. Remember, now is the time to rid your lawn of weeds so they do not become a huge problem later. Spray your roses to prevent disease, and for controlling pests and diseases in your fruit trees, spray them with a lime sulfur spray before they bloom.
Many people are probably wondering what they are going to do with their Christmas poinsettias. These beautiful plants may still be enjoyed for many years with proper care. From now until March, place your poinsettia in or near a window that receives full sunlight.
Keep the temperature 60 to 75 degrees. Water your poinsettia whenever the soil feels dry to the touch until it drains out of the bottom of your container. Discard standing water so the plant does not sit in water.
In April, start decreasing water, allowing the soil to become dry between waterings. In one to two weeks after the plant has acclimated to the drying process, move the plant to a cool spot. Keep the plant at around 60 degrees.
Around the middle of May, cut the plant stems back with a sharp knife to a height of about 4 inches. Repot the poinsettia plant in a slightly larger pot (about 1 or 2 inches) than the original pot and use new potting soil. Water the plant thoroughly.
After five or 10 minutes, water again. Place your plant in a position that receives full sunlight. Keep temperature at 65 to 75 degrees. Water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. After new growth appears, begin fertilizing every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer.
In early June, move your potted poinsettia outside. Place the plant in a partially shaded location and continue the watering and fertilizing schedule. In late June or early July, cut back each stem by 1 inch.
Cut the new growth back again by mid-August or early September. Leave three or four leaves on each shoot. Bring the plant inside and place it in a sunny window and keep the temperature 65 to 70 degrees. Continue watering and fertilizing.
To make your poinsettia rebloom, it needs approximately 10 weeks with 12 hours or less of sunlight per day. You can use your daily calendar to keep a record of each step of care for your poinsettia.
The first of October through November, move your plant to a dark closet from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. During the day, the plant should be in the sun. Continue to water and fertilize. The last of November, stop the dark treatment and keep the plant in a window for sunlight. By mid-December, you should stop fertilizing your plant.
Never forget your gardening resource at Clemson University’s Home and Gardening Information Center for any question or problem. It may be reached at (888) 656-9988 or by visiting hgic.clemson.edu.