In The Garden – January-February gardening tips

Helpful tips for gardening in the Triangle.


• Hang on to your amaryllis. You can plant it outdoors in spring. Here’s how.

• Shear back liriope to make room for new growth.

• Force bulbs indoors like paperwhite narcissus and hyacinths to brighten your home in winter.

• Cut back ornamental grasses to 6-8 inches in February. Divide large clumps and replant.

• Plant bare-root roses.

• Cut back flowering vines.

• Apply a tablespoon of 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 time-release fertilizer to spring-flowering bulbs when the shoots are 2 to 3 inches tall.

Fruits and Vegetables

• Start your vegetables from seed and get a jump on spring gardening.

• Have your soil tested by your local county extension office.

• Prepare the vegetable garden—loosen the soil, add organic matter, browse seed catalogs.

• Plant cold hardy vegetable plants like sugar snap peas and onion sets.


• Fertilize fescue lawns in February with one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. feet.

• Watch for cool season weeds—chickweed, hairy bittercress, henbit—and treat by removal or a broadleaf herbicide.

• Sharpen lawn mower blade, repair and replace broken tools and power equipment before spring.

Trees and Shrubs

• Mid- to late-February is the time to prune most trees, shrubs and woody ornamentals, except for those that bloom in spring. Prune those after they bloom.

• Clean up camellia blooms to keep from spreading camellia blight.

• Survey trees and shrubs for breakage from winter weather and prune damaged area.

• Keep evergreens and young plants watered during dry weather.

• Add mulch around trees and shrubs. But don’t mound the mulch in a volcano effect; keep the mulch 3-6 inches away from the trunk.


• Apply dormant oil on fruit trees and roses if you had mealy bugs, aphids, scale or mites last year.

• Check your houseplants for insects and root rot from overwatering in winter. Fungus gnats are a sign of overwatering. Use oil spray or insecticidal soap on the soil and let the plant dry out completely to help kill the gnats. If possible, repot the plant into fresh potting soil and sterilize the pot. Remember to dust your plants.

Put a Stop to These

Plants not native to the Southeast are taking over our landscape. These alien invaders out compete and gradually displace our native plants. The impact of invasive plants is second only to habitat destruction. So we need to put a stop to it. Remove invasive plants from your landscape. Japanese stilt grass is not an ornamental grass. Chinese and Japanese wisteria is not a vine to covet. And for kudzu, get rid of it. For a complete list of the worst plants, visit the North Carolina Invasive Plant Council at

For a complete list of garden maintenance activities, visit the NC Cooperative Extension web site at

For lawn care go to the NC State Turf Files at