Gardening Tips

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.

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

• Plant bare-root roses.

• Cut back flowering vines.

• Shear back liriope in February to make room for new growth.

• Roses that produce flowers on old wood should be pruned before new growth begins around the end of February into early March.

• 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

• 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 indoors first 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.

• If you want to change your lawn to a warm season grass, use this time to research the options best for your yard.

• Watch for cool season weeds—chickweed, hairy bittercress, henbit—and treat by removal or a post-emergent herbicide (if temps are above 40-degrees).

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

• Plagued by Japanese stilt grass? February is the time to add a pre-emergent herbicide to the affected areas in the landscape and natural areas of your yard.

Trees and Shrubs

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

• 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.

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

• This is a great time to transplant trees and shrubs while the weather is cold and the plant is dormant. Make sure to water these.

• Don’t fertilize shrubs until you see some buds emerge on the plant.

• Keep evergreens and young plants watered during dry weather.


• 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