Gardening Tips

In The Garden – January-February gardening tips

Helpful tips for gardening in the Triangle.


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

• Plant bare-root roses.

• Cut back flowering vines.

• Shear back liriope to make room for new growth.

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

Fruits and Vegetables

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

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

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

• 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 post-emergent herbicide (about 40-degrees).

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

Trees and Shrubs

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

• Delay pruning until late winter, except for minor shaping and to remove dead or diseased wood.

• Prune woody ornamentals like hydrangea and butterfly bush that bloom in summer.

• Keep evergreens and young plants watered during dry weather.

• Add mulch around trees and shrubs. But don’t make volcano effects, 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.

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