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February Garden Calendar

Searcy, Ark. –

February is a big month in the gardening world, with many pruning chores taking top priority. Late February is the time to start pruning fruit trees, blueberry bushes and grape vines. Proper pruning ensures top performance. Both the quality and the size of the harvested fruit will be better if you know how to prune. 

Pruning is not limited to fruit crops. All roses need annual pruning as well, and it is recommended that you prune butterfly bush (buddleia), summer spirea, and ornamental grasses back hard each year. Butterfly bush and summer blooming spirea plants bloom on new growth. Cutting them back hard keeps the plants more compact but covered with blooms. Ornamental grasses die close to the soil line each winter, so removing the old foliage makes way for new growth the following growing season. If other summer blooming shrubs need pruning, this too should be done before new growth really kicks in. This list of shrubs includes crape myrtles, althea (rose-of-Sharon), Clethra (summer sweet), Callicarpa (French mulberry or beauty berry) and the Panicle hydrangeas such as Limelight or Pinky Winky.  Don’t prune the big leaf hydrangeas unless all their new growth begins from the soil line. There are numerous types of hydrangeas, so you need to know which you have to decide when to prune. While most guidelines call for February pruning towards the end of the month, use common sense too. We have had some late springs with winter weather before, and we didn’t get around to pruning until March. Late pruning is not going to kill a plant.

Our winter annuals don't always thrive in the cold weather, but some do better than others. Pansies and violas struggle valiantly to rebound on warmer days, but Swiss chard and giant purple mustard won’t look good until spring, if they do come back. If you have winter annuals with damage, clean up the damaged foliage, fertilize on a mild winter day, and water if it gets dry. If the damage is on permanent plants in the landscape, ignore the damaged foliage until new growth begins in the spring. Pruning them back now will remove any buffer the damaged leaves are providing. Hopefully the damage will be minimal, or even better, you won’t have any severe winter weather—keep your fingers crossed! Pay attention to weather forecasts, and if really low temperatures are predicted and you haven’t gotten ample rain fall, water your container plants and any newly planted trees or shrubs. If plants are bone dry going into a hard freeze, you stand the chance of having more burned foliage.

By mid-February, you can begin to plant the cool season vegetables. English and snap peas are the most cold hardy, followed by greens, then the Cole crops: cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Transplants should begin appearing in garden centers later this month. Greens, spinach and carrots can be planted from seeds, and onion sets and transplants, along with seed potatoes, will appear at the end of the month. Cool gardening season is from February through mid-April. If you did a good job of covering any fall or late-planted vegetables, you should be harvesting now. If you did not cover, you will probably need to replant. 

Spring bulbs are beginning to make an appearance! Crocus and early daffodils are blooming some years now; we haven’t see any signs yet, but it won’t be long. After that come hyacinths, tulips and flowering onions. When you see flower buds emerging in your foliage, that is the time to put out some complete fertilizer to aid in bud set for next year.  Remember to keep the foliage happy and healthy for at least six weeks after bloom.

To do list for Beekeepers:

Check the bees' food supply, and provide emergency feeding if needed. Continue to read up on bees. Attend your local beekeeping association meetings. Finish your workshop chores so that all your hives are ready for spring. On a mild, sunny day with little wind, it may be possible to have a look inside the hive. Don't remove any frames, which may risk chilling the brood, but you can estimate the size of the cluster between the frames. Patties of pollen or artificial pollen substitute can be provided to promote earlier brood production. However, in periods of extended cold temperatures the worker population may not be large enough to incubate a large brood nest. If weather permits inspection, weak colonies (those with less than two full frames of bees) will probably not recover adequately and can be united with other colonies. Medicate with Fumidil-B for Nosema, if necessary. Excessive condensation on the inside of the lid may mean ventilation is inadequate.

The queen will be spending a lot of time in the cluster, but a few warm days will lure some workers outside to investigate. When the first spring flowers begin to bloom, they will return with pollen. Fresh pollen will stimulate the queen to begin some limited egg-laying activity. Workers will take cleansing flights on warm days.

Increased activity and brood-rearing will cause the bees to consume a substantial amount of stored honey this month.  Unless an unusually warm and early spring promotes early flowering, their surplus food supplies may be running low.

For additional information on horticulture related topics, contact the White County Extension Service at 501-268-5394 or Sherri Sanders by email at

The University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.


By Sherri Sanders
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Sherri Sanders
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
2400 Old Searcy Landing Road Searcy AR 72143
(501) 268-5394


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.