So. California

What to do in your garden in February

PLANTING

Blueberries. These healthful berries come on plants pretty enough to grow as shrubs, hedges, or container specimens. Potted plants are available in many nurseries this month. In lower elevations, look for a variety that needs little winter chill, like 'Georgia Gem', 'Misty', 'O'Neal', or 'Sunshine Blue'. Before planting, amend the soil generously with peat moss to raise soil pH. Or grow the plant in a container filled with an azalea-camellia planting mix.

Rabbitproof color. There are, believe it or not, flowering plants that rabbits dislike. If bunnies are eating most of your blossoms, try growing these plants: agapanthus, catmint, daylilies, euphorbia, feverfew, gazanias, lantana, monkey flowers, nasturtiums, pelargonium, penstemons, salvia, society garlic, and vinca.

Summer bulbs. In coastal and inland gardens, continue to plant caladium, callas, cannas, gladiolus, nerine, Oriental lilies, tuberous begonias, and other summer-flowering bulbs. Summer crops. In the low desert ( Sunset climate zone 13), you can plant peppers, tomatoes, and other warm-season crops late this month. But be prepared to protect seedlings from late frost by covering with row covers or hot caps.

Winter crops. In coastal, inland, and high desert gardens (zones 22?24, 18?21, and 11, respectively), you can still plant cabbage-family crops like broccoli from nursery starters or begin beets, carrots, celery, onions, peas, and turnips from seed. Or grow quick, leafy crops that will be ready to harvest in 20 to 45 days, such as arugula, leaf lettuces, radish leaf, spinach, and upland cress.

MAINTENANCE

Dormant pruning. Before new growth emerges, prune deciduous fruit and ornamental trees, grape and wisteria vines, roses, and woody, summer-blooming shrubs such as butterfly bush, fuchsia, Lavatera thuringiaca, and Mexican bush sage. Wait to prune spring-flowering shrubs such as azaleas and camellias until after bloom. Don't prune hibiscus or other subtropicals; it's still too cold to encourage new growth.

Fertilize. Feed groundcovers, shrubs, perennials, trees, and other permanent plants with a slow-release fertilizer such as bonemeal, cottonseed meal, or well-rotted manure to provide gradual nutrition throughout the season. Or scatter a granular complete fertilizer. Also feed cool-season lawns such as tall fescue. And if you live within 10 miles of the coast, fertilize avocado and citrus trees.

PEST AND WEED CONTROL

Manage ants on citrus. To keep aphids, mealybugs, and other sucking insects under control on citrus trees, stop the ants that feed on the aphids' honeydew. To keep trees free of ants, wrap the lower trunk with a thick strip of cloth, cover the cloth with plastic wrap, then apply a sticky pest barrier such as Tree Tanglefoot Pest Barrier. Renew the plastic and the coating every few weeks.

Stop weeds. To prevent weed seeds from germinating, apply a corn gluten-based product like Concern Weed Prevention Plus to flower beds and mixed borders; it won't harm existing plants. Also apply it to warm-season turfgrasses like Bermuda and St. Augustine to prevent the emergence of crabgrass and other annual weeds.