February

What to do in your Southwest garden in February
Scott Calhoun

Plant

Grow annual flowers, including alyssum, calendula, canna, gladiola, pansy, and petunia, for pops of bright color.

In the low desert, plant broccoli, cauliflower, English peas, onions, and other cold-tolerant vegetables.

In Flagstaff, Prescott, Sedona, Santa Fe, Taos, and Albuquerque, sow wildflower seeds now for color later in the season. Try blue flax (Linum lewisii), sand penstemon (Penstemon ambigua), Rocky Mountain penstemon, and wild oregano (Monarda austromontana).

In the low deserts, plant angelita daisy, autumn sage, desert marigold, desert milkweed (Asclepias subulata), paper daisy, Parry’s penstemon, and tufted evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa).

Maintain

Refrain from pruning frost-damaged plants such as bougainvillea, hibiscus, and lantana until after signs of new growth appear.

Before new growth begins, cut back ornamental grasses such as blue grama, deer grass, regal mist muhly, and sideoats grama to about 1 foot high.  New growth will rapidly obscure the remaining brush -like tuft.

Fertilize citrus using a citrus and avocado formulated fertilizer around Valentine’s Day.

Feed trees and shrubs by spreading a 2 to 4 inch layer of compost around the base of plants. Take care to keep the compost away from trunks, and spread it out to the edges of plants’ drip lines.

Inspect drip irrigation lines and repair leaks.

Protect

Fight insect infestations by introducing their natural predators. Try ladybird beetles and green lacewings for aphids, and for desert species such as yuccas that are prone to spider mite, get the spider mite destroyer (Stethorus punctillum). Keep them refrigerated to slow their metabolism before releasing them in the evening hours. All from Arbico (arbico-organics.com).

Harvest

On dry days, pick grapefruit, kumquats, lemons, limes, oranges and tangelos. Once they've plump and fully colored, pick one and taste it. If it's sweet, the fruits are ripe for picking. Take some for immediate consumption leaving some on the tree to further sweeten.