Spring is March 20th, 48 days away (but, who’s counting?). Planting isn’t on the chore list yet, but prepping the garden for spring planting and is. Let’s get started with a refresher in what garden zone means and carry on from there. Here are your February chores.

This is the plant zone hardiness map for the United States. The unique thing about this 2012 version is that is breaks areas of the country into micro-climates, taking into consideration elevation, wind, slope and bodies of water and how they affect area temperatures.

Look Up Your Plant zone Hardiness For your area

The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones.

Asheville is Zone 7a. Western North Carolina, depending on elevation, can fluctuate from Zone 7a (downtown Asheville) to 5b (areas of Boone). The higher the elevation the lower the number. Using the interactive component of the map, enter your zip code to determine the zone of your garden.  (At present, the USDA Plant Zone Map isn’t working. If you have questions about your zone, ask us!)

Looking forward to seasonal vegetables? You reap what you sow!

Vegetable Gardens

First, download this pdf/brochure. It’s a chart listing what to plant when in WNC. It helps when planning for the vegetable garden. Next, prep your beds now. Begin by getting a soil test to determine what your soil needs nutritionally. Here’s how to do that. We carry small soil sample kits if you don’t need the full analysis. Add amendments to your garden as suggested by the soil test. Amendments can be confusing, so ask staff to help determine which product your garden needs. We carry several that will improve soil quality. Here’s a link to a few of our favorite products. Daddy Pete’s Soil Amendments and Espoma Organic Garden Products

Start with these cool-season veggies:

  • Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower plants can be started indoors now. Please read here about starting seeds inside.

  • Plant English peas, onions, Irish potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, kale, turnips, and carrots outdoors the last week of February. Look for some of these cool-season veggies to come into the store this month.

Fertilize

  • You can fertilize trees, shrubs, and emerging bulbs in February or March. We recommend Holly Tone or Plant Tone depending on the plants (acid-loving plants receive Holly Tone, neutral plants receive Plant Tone).

  • Cool-season lawns can be fertilized so long as your zone is 7a. Higher elevation lawns wait until closer to or during March.

Pruning

  • Pruning is a Feb/March chore. For more information on how to prune, read here.

  • Prune fruiting trees, bushes, and vines.

  • Prune dormant deciduous shade trees and evergreens.

  • Prune summer-blooming shrubs such as ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata), crape myrtles, butterfly bush, and Rose of Sharon. Do not prune Hydrangea macrophyllas that bloom on old wood.

  • Do not prune spring-blooming shrubs such as rhododendrons, azaleas, lilacs, and climbing roses until after blooming.

You will not kill a plant by pruning it—or you’d have to try very hard to do so—but it is possible to remove the blooms for this year, as many plants bloom on old wood (last season’s growth). Look up your shrubs (the internet has tons of information) on your blooming shrubs and trees before pruning to make sure you’re pruning it at the right time and not cutting off this season’s blooms. This can get confusing so if you find yourself shaking your head, don’t prune a flowering shrub until immediately after it blooms. Just lump them all into the same category. It will be fine.

Transplanting

Rule of thumb: Spring and early summer blooming perennials transplant in fall. Late summer and fall blooming flowers transplant in spring. Wait until you can see the green leaves emerging before transplanting and follow these instructions when doing so.  

Mulching

Now is the time to mulch your landscape before perennials are poking up and making it difficult to mulch around—tips on mulching.


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Miscellaneous Chores

  • Cut back last year’s hellebore leaves and plant more now. To learn about hellebores and why you need them, read here.

  • Add primroses to your garden. They bloom early spring and are great perennials. To learn more about this garden perennial, read here.

  • Clean out bluebird boxes.

  • Wash out bird feeders.

  • Sharpen garden tools. (Look for information in our newsletter regarding tool sharpening.)

  • Do any needed repairs now. Fences, patios, rock walls—those projects that are forgotten the minute we can start planting.

Written by Cinthia Milner, Garden Coach, and blog writer.

B. B. Barns Garden Center serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina and Tennessee.