Weather... everyone has their story. I know that plants that usually make it through the winter didn’t this time. With Easter being late this year, it’s difficult to know when the last freeze will happen. We will need to keep row cover and buckets nearby to cover the young plants. We need to finish pruning roses, shrubs, trees, and vines, but don’t prune spring-blooming roses, Indian hawthorn, mountain laurel, altheas, redbud trees, buckeye, quince, forsythia, or bridal veil; wait until they have finished the bloom cycle.
This is the month to prune trees. You may remove all broken limbs and crossing branches. Don’t top the trees; take out limbs to help control the shape and size of the tree. Prune oaks now to help prevent oak wilt. February 15 thru June 15 is not a good time to prune oaks; this is when most insects can affect the fungal mats that cause oak wilt. Paint all cuts on oak trees. Any kind of paint will work. It needs to seal the wounds so insects can’t enter. Prune peach and plum trees to maintain a bowl shape. This makes the fruit easier to harvest. Prune apple, pear and pecan as needed; remove broken and crossed branches. Keep a watch for scale insects on fruit trees and treat with a dormant spray. Be careful that spray doesn’t cover lawn or annuals. Read the directions carefully. Check houseplants for mealy bugs, spidermites, scale, and other pests. Use a houseplant spray as you see them.
February is the month we normally start the spring gardens. If you have planned to start an orchard or just “one” fruit tree, this is a good time. It is very important that the tree is for our area. Things that grow well in San Antonio or Fredericksburg may not be for our area. The extension office in Johnson City will have a list of the proper plants and trees.
The daffodils have begun to bloom, though I lost the first bloom in the freeze. I also wanted to remind you that the bulbs are poisonous, to animals as well as humans. They can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Be aware when you are working in your gardens; wear gloves and identify the plants in your yard and home. It’s time to fertilize.