It is February now, which means it is almost March, which means it is almost spring! Springtime is truly my favorite time of the year, especially in the garden. Plants start to green up and colorful flowers emerge to drive away the wet, chilly, dreary winter. The birds start visiting, and slowly insects, frogs, bees, and butterflies return.
If you have been gardening for a while as I have, you know that this is a very busy time both in preparation and in planting. If you are looking to get started gardening, now is a wonderful opportunity! Here are a few ways that you can prepare for spring this month to ensure your most beautiful and bountiful garden ever!
This is a great time to do some cleaning up and planning for your garden. January and February are always great months to decide on what you are growing for the year, or at least the spring and summer seasons. Inventory your seeds and plants and see what you want to add and order. Perhaps even draw out a plan or map or design for your garden and landscaping. If you need to replace any equipment or order more fertilizers and other amendments, do so now. You can find a multitude of organic products through one of my favorite Houston-based companies, Microlife.
It is also time to clean up your beds and landscaping. Between late February and mid-March you can start to clear away any damaged or dead debris that was hurt by any winter chill or freezes. Our average last frost in the area is typically around the middle of March, so when in doubt, wait. Add some fresh compost to your beds, and mulch by March to help protect soil moisture and keep your plants cool heading into later spring and summer.
Also, be sure to check your irrigation once freezing temps are past us. Make sure there are no leaks and everything is working properly.
The Edible Garden
February and March are huge planting times for anything edible, especially in our Zone 9 Houston area. Big things to plant now are transplants of strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, collards, and other greens, herbs, and fruit trees. You can still also direct sow lettuces, beets, radishes, onions, and swiss chard, among others. Go ahead and start your peppers and tomatoes indoors if you haven’t already, as well as basil, ginger, melons, and tomatillos. Starting seeds indoors gives you a jump start on the growing season.
Be sure when you are planting new things for your spring and summer gardens that you are checking up on your soil and adding compost and any fertilizers or minerals that might be missing or have been used away over the past year. Remember though that a late freeze can still be possible, so be on the lookout with your frost cloth until March.
The Flower Garden
Spring is so exciting in the world of flowers! You bulb and corm plants should be starting to sprout up and even bloom, and you’ll be met with beautiful colors from your tulips, anemones, daffodils and ranunculus soon. Wildflowers should be sprouting, and will explode toward later February and March. A fun addition for now is to buy bluebonnet transplants for a burst of patriotic color in your landscaping.
You can plant outdoors seeds of nasturtium as well as dahlia tubers and gladiolus and daylily bulbs. Transplant pansies, violas, snapdragons, dianthus, larkspur and poppies for some later winter and early spring color. Start indoors your dahlia, salvia, zinnia, cosmos and calendula seeds; these will be transplanted in March after all threat of frost has passed.
Now is still an excellent time to plant any flowering trees, shrubs and roses; planting now will help ensure they have ample time to grow strong roots before our brutal summer. It is also recommended to prune your climbing and shrub roses at this time to encourage a huge flush of spring blooms. Here is a great video on how to prune your shrub roses:
Landscaping and Lawn
Once the threat of a severe freeze has passed, usually by mid-March, you should be cutting back any damaged or dead shrub and trees. Once you have done this, you can then evaluate if you want to add any new shrubs or trees to your area. When in doubt on what to choose, pick native! Buchanan’s Native Plants Nursery has a wonderful list of recommended native plants, and typically has all of them in stock this time of year.
You will want to prune your crepe myrtle trees now, but PLEASE for the love of all things holy, DO NOT murder them. Here is a resource to guide you on the best way to prune them.
For your lawn of warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda and St. Augustine, you will want to apply pre-emergent (weed killer) in early February, followed by a root growth stimulator. In March you will apply another round of root growth stimulator as well as fertilizer. Be sure to fertilize your trees as well with the same product. In April you can aerate, seed and level if you would like. If you decide to get rid of your lawn altogether, look for a drought-tolerant groundcover and add that in now. For those of us with lawn-obsessed husbands, we’re stuck with our grass!
I hope this helps and can be a great resource for your year after year spring gardening. And don’t forget, this can be an amazing opportunity to get your kids involved in home maintenance, get them outside and off their devices, and get them learning about nature and the miracle of living things. My girls are always so excited to start cutting flowers and harvesting fruit and veggies once the spring arrives, as well as seeing our pollinator friends arrive. There’s nothing quite like seeing the wonderful world around us through our children’s eyes.