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February Gardening Tasks

February in South Africa is one of the best months to enjoy your garden, but it is also one of the hottest months to garden, so you just need to do the basics right and hold on for easier times.

General Tasks

  • Mulch all your beds to keep them cool, suppress weeds, improve the soil condition, and minimise water evaporation.
  • Water plants early in the morning during hot, dry weather. Avoid watering at night in summer as this can encourage fungal diseases.
  • Keep filling birdbaths and shallow fishponds with fresh water to cool them down.
  • Fuchsias need to be kept cool and well-watered to get them through the high heat of summer.
  • This is the best time to find end-of-the-season bargains at garden centres.

Sowing

  • You can start sowing winter- and spring-flowering annuals and bi-annuals that need a bit of time to grow in seedling trays before being planted in the garden. The seeds to sow are cinerarias, gazanias, delphiniums, Iceland poppies, primulas, violas, pansies, larkspurs, Canterbury bells, statice, gaillardia, sweet Williams and aquilegias.
  • Sweet peas can be sown at the end of February. Prepare a trench for them alongside a fence or trellis, and add a lot of well-rotted kraal manure, compost, bonemeal and an organic fertiliser to the soil. The trench is for their deep and extensive root system. Remember, sweet peas are climbers that need support. Soak the seeds overnight in warm water before sowing directly into the trench.
  • If you clivias that flowered well in spring and you left their seeds on, you can still sow them this month! Watch this video to see how to do it.

Planting

  • You can replace tired bedding plants with heat-loving annuals like marigolds, vincas, salvias, verbenas and portulacas – they all like it hot and dry and will flower into late autumn.
  • Other flowers you can plant now include shasta daisies, wax begonias, rudbeckias, dianthus, gaillardias, hemerocallis and angelonia.
  • From now until April is a perfect time to plant new trees, as they will have ample time to establish a good root system before winter.

Bulbs

  • Bulbs that need to be planted in February to flower in autumn and winter include nerines, lachenalias, veltheimias and belladonnas.

Feeding

  • Feed dahlias with bulb food and remove faded flowers. Keep them well-staked to stop them from toppling over.
  • Feed stag horns with a liquid fertiliser and mist-spray them regularly.
  • Feed all shrubs and climbers that will flower in late winter and early spring, such as spiraea, banksia roses and jasmines, with a fertiliser for flowering plants.
  • Feed lemon trees with 3:1:5 or an organic fertiliser and water regularly.
  • Feed azaleas, camellias and gardenias with specialised fertiliser for acid-loving plants, and mulch afterwards with acidic compost. Water these plants regularly now.
  • Feed and regularly water your hellebores.

Dividing and replanting

  • Plants that can be divided and replanted in February include: wild irises, chasmanthe, red-hot pokers, hen- and-chickens, daylilies, agapanthus, alstroemerias, asters and watsonias.

Plant Cuttings

  • Take cuttings of fuchsias, pelargoniums, heliotropes, hydrangeas, felicias, diascia, osteospermums, lavenders, rosemary, carnations, daisy bushes, begonias and verbenas – dip the bottom ends in rooting hormone and plant them in a mix of compost and coarse river sand. Place the cuttings in a shaded spot and keep the soil moist.

Pruning

  • Prune down untidy and blown perennials and summer-flowering bulbs as soon as the foliage has died down.
  • Cut back petunias to encourage a late-autumn flower flush.
  • Prune deciduous climbers like wisterias, Boston ivy and ornamental vines that need thinning out.
  • Trim hedges and topiaries to keep their shape.
  • Neaten hail-damaged plants lightly and spray proactively with a fungicide, as they are often attacked after a beating by a heavy storm.
  • Remove green growth on variegated plants like coprosmas.
  • Remove weak stems and deadhead Hydrangeas that have finished flowering and clip hedges and topiaries.

Lawns

  • Continue feeding the lawn and water well after applying fertiliser.
  • Don’t mow lawns too short as it will expose the roots to hot sun and cause a patchy effect.
  • February is the best time to treat weeds in lawns.

Pests

  • Look out for red spider mites, which are problematic in periods of drought and very hot weather.
  • Citrus psylla cause blisters on the upper surface of the leaves of citrus trees, white ironwoods and coral trees.
  • Remove old flower stalks and dead material around the base of spent perennials to curb mildew, rust and red spider mite.

Rose tasks

  • Water deeply at least twice a week.
  • Cover the soil with a thin layer of mulch to keep it cool.
  • Watch out for red spider mite, which breeds on the underside of the leaves. If they are present, you’ll notice the leaves starting to look mottled. Spray with appropriate insect spray, making sure to drench the underside of the leaves. Repeat after five days to break the breeding cycle.
  • Cut off the dead heads of the roses.
  • Delay fertilising until the end of February so that the roses do not sprout during the hottest part of the month. This takes up energy and water.
  • Leaves shade a rose bush in hot weather. To retain as many leaves as possible, keep grooming to a minimum.
  • Loosen compact soil to allow water to penetrate easily.

February Veggie Sowing Guide

Highveld and KwaZulu-Natal Midlands

  • Beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, endive, globe artichoke, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsnips, radishes, spinach and Swiss chard, turnips.

Middleveld (Tshwane and other less frosty areas)

  • Bush beans, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsnips, radishes, spinach and Swiss chard, turnips.

Eastern Cape and Little Karoo

  • Broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, leeks, lettuce, parsnips, radishes, Swiss chard, turnips

Western Cape (and Southern Coast)

  • Beetroot, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, kohlrabi, lettuce

Northern Cape and Great Karoo

  • Beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bush beans, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, parsnips, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, turnips

Lowveld and KwaZulu Natal coast

  • Artichokes (globe), bush beans, runner beans, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, brinjals, cabbage, capsicums (sweet peppers and chillies), carrots, cauliflower, celery, onions, radishes, spinach and Swiss chard, tomatoes, turnips

Veggie garden tasks for February

  • Prevent pests like whitefly, aphids and red spider mites from colonising plants by spraying weekly with an organic insecticide or biological insecticide as necessary. Pests will sap the strength of plants.
  • Keep harvesting regularly.
  • In hot, dry weather, deeply water fruiting veggies (like tomatoes, brinjals and squashes) twice a week, and shallow-rooted veggies more often.
  • Protect plants from powdery mildew during humid, wet weather by spaying with an organic fungicide.
  • Fertilise fruiting crops and boost heat-stressed veggies with a foliar feed, which act as a tonic.
  • Pull out weeds and start preparing the soil for cool-season crops.
  • Stake tomatoes, brinjals and peppers, and support branches that are heavy with fruit.

Projects

If you simply love your fur-kids or have some that quickly shred any toy you buy them, this DIY is for you. Make your own dog toys out of things you have at home.

Every South African loves biltong but have you made your own? Learn how to make your own biltong drying box here

Recipes

There’s nothing more refreshing on a hot day than a refreshing iced tea. Make delicious iced herb teas with these tips.

Did you know Nasturtiums are edible? Check out these three ways you can use Nasturtiums in cooking.Save

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