Plant vegetables and ornamentals in February

UC Master GardenerJanuary 30, 2013 

Get a head start on summer vegetables by planting seeds (such as the newly sprouted radish above) and seedlings now.


Q: What should I be doing in my garden in February? — Larry L.

A: February, the last winter month, may find you surveying bare garden spots and perusing seed packets. The words “plant after last frost” may have you flummoxed, but never mind, February is an ideal time for coastal gardeners to get sowing.

Plant carrots, kohlrabi, lettuce, potato eyes and snow peas. Inland gardeners can plant beets, radishes, lettuce, potato eyes and spinach. All areas can sow seeds for parsley, endive, leeks and turnips. Also plant garlic, shallot and bulb onion sets. Artichoke crowns, asparagus crowns and rhubarb rhizomes can be transplanted.

Overachievers get a head start by starting seeds indoors or in a cold frame for later planting. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauli flower are good selections.

Don’t bypass ornamentals in search of salad fare. Sow Alyssum, Achillea, Aster, Calendula, candytuft, Clarkia, columbine, Cosmos and Delphiniumand wildflowers to name a few. Bulbs to consider for spring and early summer are: Amaryllis, Caladium, calla lily, Canna, Dahlia, Gladiolus and daylily. Deadhead coolseason flowers to promote further growth.

If you missed the tree and shrub rush, make haste! Camellias and azaleas, roses, deciduous fruit, nut trees, berries and grapes flourish when planted now.

Prune damaged trees, dormant trees, shrubs that bloom in summer and fall, roses, grapes and berries before budding occurs. Prune and shape fuchsia before they break into leaf.

Mow cool-season lawns to three to four inches, and de-thatch warm-season turf. Trim perennial grasses to four to six inches, or dig up, divide and replant.

This is a good time to fertilize. Feed groundcovers, perennials, shrubs and trees. Use slow-release fertilizers and work it into the top three inches of soil. Lightly fertilize established citrus trees. Use balanced fertilizer on fruit trees. Prevent run-off; fertilize after rains. Mediterranean and native plants do not need feeding.

Pluck weeds before seeds or flowers form. Control aphids on new growth by repeated strong sprays of water. Trap earwigs in loosely rolled-up newspapers and dispose of later. Then, get ready to “spring” into action.


Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners at 781-5939 on Mondays and Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m. in San Luis Obispo; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon in Arroyo Grande; or at 434-4105 on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners Web site at or email  .

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