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TODAY'S GARDEN
     
February 2017
If you didn't cut back perennials and clean up flower beds in the fall, begin to do these tasks later this month before new spring growth appears.  If you wait too long to begin clean up tasks you are likely to damage delicate new growth .
  
Add  compost and/or other organic matter to flower beds and vegetable plots when the soil is dry and the ground isn't frozen.  Be sure to mix these soil amendments thoroughly into the soil rather than leaving them as a layer on top. 
  
If you plan to order bare-root roses, order them now and specify mid-March delivery.  Bare-root roses often offer gardeners a wider selection and lower prices than are available for packaged roses and roses potted in containers.  Try to buy Grade #1 roses rather than Grade #1 1/2 or Grade #2.  Grade #1 roses have more canes and the canes are larger sized.  If you prefer to see what you're getting and don't mind paying a bit more, wait until late spring to buy roses planted in containers at your local garden center. 
  
Continue winter watering.  Keep in mind that snow sometimes provides little moisture.  Therefore, you should check the soil for dryness.  Areas with a southern or western exposure are especially likely to need water if there has been little or no snowfall. 
  
Prune trees and shrubs, if needed, just before buds open.  Remove branches that interfere with others, weak branches and ones that are growing vertical, creating a narrow crotch angle.  No more than 1/4 of the branches/stems should be removed per year.  Avoid topping branches (cutting off the tips) and shearing shrubs, which can lead to weakened, pest-prone plants.  Application of a wound dressing is no longer recommended.  Wait to prune lilacs and forsythias until after they flower.  Also, wait until after they leaf out to prune maple, birch and walnut trees.  These trees drip lots of sap ("bleed") if pruned during winter or early spring.
  
If heavy snowfall occurs this month, use a broom to lift up branches and gently shake off the snow.  Don't press down on branches because this pressure plus the weight of the snow could cause them to break.
  
If you had severe problems with aphids, scales or mites last year, you may want to spray infested trees and shrubs with a horticultural (dormant) oil to kill over-wintering stages of these pests.  Dormant oils should be applied while the plant is dormant; that is, it hasn't formed buds or leafed out.  Apply the spray when the temperature is above freezing, the plants are dry, and there is no chance for rain.  Be aware that some plants, for example black walnut, junipers, maples and spruce, are sensitive to oils.  Carefully read and follow label instructions.
 

 



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