Gardening Tips

In The Garden – January-February gardening tips

Helpful tips for gardening in the Triangle.


• It’s time to order and then start your flower seeds indoors. Germination days are listed on the seed packet. You don’t want to start them too early. Count backwards the number of germination days from your last expected frost date to know when you can transplant the seedlings outdoors.

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

• Shear back liriope to make room for new growth.

• Prepare your garden for roses, being careful to allow for good drainage and proper soil amending. Plant bare-root roses in February

• Apply a teaspoon of 10-10-10 time-release fertilizer per square foot to spring-flowering bulbs when the shoots are 2 to 3 inches tall

• Hang on to your amaryllis. You can plant it in the garden in spring.

Fruits and Vegetables

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

• Start your vegetables from seed and get a jump on spring gardening. Don’t overwater the seedlings.

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

• Plant cold hardy vegetable plants like sugar snap peas, spinach and onion sets in February.

• Plant dormant asparagus crowns in an organic-rich bed in February


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

• Cool season lawn sod can be planted if the ground isn’t frozen. Don’t plant warm-season lawns until the temperature stays above 60 degrees F.

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

Trees and Shrubs

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

• 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.

• Keep evergreens and young plants watered during dry weather.

• If the ground isn’t frozen, you can plant container-grown and balled and burlaped trees and shrubs. Make sure to water these.


• Check your houseplants for insects and root rot from overwatering. 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. 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