Coastal Region – Brad Fowler
- Many plants can benefit from being pruned in late winter, but it is very important to check specific pruning requirements for each plant. Additionally, use correct pruning practices so that plants are not damaged during the pruning process.
- Cooler temperatures may reduce the amount of outdoor work that can be done, so use this time wisely by organizing the garden shed, cleaning equipment, and sharpening blades.
- Late February can be a good time to get a head start on planning the spring vegetable garden. Purchasing essential materials early and starting seeds indoors helps ensure that planting the garden can begin on time.
- Some warm-season weeds can be managed by using a pre-emergent herbicide in mid-February. It is essential to read and follow all label instructions when applying chemicals.
- Managing cool-season weeds in turfgrass may require the use of a post-emergent herbicide. Spot treating individual weeds is a great way to save time and money and reduce the amount of chemical needed.
- Be wary of warmer temperatures in late winter that may cause turfgrass to green up too early. Trying to encourage growth through fertilization or irrigation this time of year may cause damage to the turf and encourage weeds to grow.
Midlands Region – Jennifer Weaver
- Spotlight on hollies! The evergreen leaves and fruits of the native American holly (Ilex opaca) provide beautiful color and interest to the winter garden. It is also an excellent food source for wildlife such as songbirds, quail, and many small mammals. Native Americans considered the berries as highly prized trade items and used preserved holly berries for decorative buttons. Holly wood is used to make knife handles and black piano keys. There are more than 1,000 holly cultivars.
- The American holly is dioecious – male and female flowers are on separate plants (males produce pollen, females produce berries), and you need both sexes to set fruit. If you are wondering why you have never seen fruit on your American holly, you may have a male plant or an unfertilized female plant. Also, most hollies require sunny locations for the best fruit set.
- The bright red or orange berry-like drupes of hollies can persist from September through February. The fruit of hollies is commonly called berries, though they are actually drupes. Drupes have a hard endocarp (fleshy part next to the seed like the pit of a peach) and berries have a fleshy endocarp.
- Another plant sporting bright red drupes in the winter is Japanese ardisia. It is a great selection for a partial to full shade woodland garden as afternoon sun may cause foliar burn. Bonus – it is also considered deer resistant!
- February is one of the most spectacular months in South Carolina for observing spring flowering shrubs and bulbs such as spirea, oriental magnolias, daffodils, crocus, quince, etc. Make sure to allow the foliage of bulbs to mature and die down naturally before removing.
- Several plants provide color and fragrance in late winter, such as the flowers of winter daphne, winterhazel, Chinese paperbush, and sweetbox. The foliage of the variegated winter daphne provides an extra bit of color as the leaves are edged with creamy white. Take note of the cultural requirements for each to make sure they are a good selection for your specific environment.
- Another blooming beauty for the winter garden is winter jasmine. The bright yellow tubular flowers appear before the leaves emerge and its weeping habit make it a great choice along rock walls or to cover a sloping area in the landscape.
- Lenten rose or helleborus begins to bloom at the end of January and lasts into March. This perennial can colonize in good growing conditions and makes an excellent evergreen ground cover mainly in the shade or understory conditions. Beautiful plant available in many different colors, including a green-colored flower and almost black. Also, naturally deer and rabbit resistant.
The Paperbark maple can be a stunning addition to any landscape as a specimen tree due to its multi-stemmed habit, compact structure and cinnamon or orange peeling, papery bark. This species is one of the last maples to develop fall color turning a very nice orange to fiery red color. It makes a nice understory tree where it gets protection from scorching sun here in the south during summer.
Ornamental grasses are a great addition to the landscape since they are easy to establish, need little water or fertilization and are generally low maintenance. However, one maintenance activity is required now – prune grasses before new growth begins to remove dead leaves and stems so that new green growth can pop through. Bundle stems of the plants with twine before cutting to make clean-up easier.
Upstate Region- Ginger Long
- There are two hydrangeas that should be pruned in late winter since they both bloom on new growth. One is the panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata), such as the popular cultivars ‘Limelight’ and ‘White Wedding.’ Look for buds that are starting to swell and cut just above them. It is recommended to remove 30% to 40% so the branches can support the large flowers. The second hydrangea to prune in late winter is the smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), such as the cultivars ‘Annabelle’ or ‘Incrediball.’ This hydrangea can be pruned very low to the ground.
- Lenten Roses (Helleborus spp.) benefit from having their older leaves cut back this time of year. Doing so allows better visibility of the flowers and new foliage. Removing the old foliage also helps reduce the spread of downy mildew.
- Ornamental grasses should be cut back now before new growth emerges. For large grasses like Pampas grass, tie the clumps tightly with rope, then use pruners or hedge trimmers to cut them back to a few inches tall. Grass-like plants like liriope and mondo grass can be cut back with a string trimmer.
- Vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower, head lettuce, and broccoli, can be started indoors for transplanting in March. Carrot and onion sets can be planted outdoors starting in mid-February.
- While warm-season lawns are dormant, collect soil samples and take them to your local office to be sent for testing by the Clemson Agricultural Service Laboratory. When you receive the emailed results, go to the step-by-step article by the Lazy Gardener, Jordan Franklin, on how to interpret the report. Call the Home and Garden Information Center with any questions at 888-656-9988.
- Reblooming roses, such as Knock Out® roses, should be cut back once a year to a height of 12 inches. Check for damaged canes and remove them. Be sure to discard all the pruned canes and mulch at the base of the plants. Replace with fresh mulch.
- Prune Crape Myrtles while the trees are dormant. Instead of topping the trees or committing “Crape Murder,” just remove unwanted twigs and branches in the center of the tree that cross or rub against one another.
- Clean out birdhouses by removing old nesting materials and any other debris. Inspect the house carefully and make any repairs necessary.