What to do in your garden in February

KIM NELSON

PLANTING

Bare-root plants. Sunset climate zones 10, 11: Set out bare-root roses andfruit trees, including apples, apricots, berries, nectarines,peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, and sweet cherries. Zones 11-13:Plant bare-root grapes.

Celebrate Valentine's Day. All zones: Add color indoors withcandy-colored pink and red cyclamen, 'Baby Doll' dianthus, andfragrant hyacinths. Zones 11-13: Plant Eremophila 'Valentine', an emu bush that bears hot pink tored tubular flowers from January through March. In winter, its darkevergreen leaves develop a reddish tinge. 'Valentine' reaches about4 feet tall and slightly wider.

Herbs. Zones 11-13: Sow seeds of chives, cilantro, dill, andparsley. Set out transplants of marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage,and thyme.

Seasonal color. Zones 12, 13: Fill beds and containers withdianthus, English primroses, larkspur, pansies, petunias, andstock.

Vegetables. Zone 10: Sow peas directly in the ground bymidmonth. Start seeds of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, andlettuce indoors for transplanting in six to eight weeks. Zone 11:Sow beets, carrots, lettuce, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, andturnips. Wait until month's end to plant potatoes. Zones 12, 13:Direct-sow seeds of beets, bok choy, carrots, green onions, peas,radishes, spinach, and turnips. Set out onion sets. Sow the firstcrop of sweet corn at month's end. Sow seeds of cucumbers,eggplants, melons, peppers, and squash indoors for transplanting insix to eight weeks.

Wildflowers. Zones 2b, 3a: Sow wildflower seeds for springcolor. Try blue flax (Linum perenne), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), and Rocky Mountain penstemon (P. strictus) or pink P. palmeri. Or try a seed mix like Mogollon Rim. All areavailable from Wild Seed (602/276-3536).

Woody shrubs. Zones 11-13: Good candidates include Arizonarosewood (Vauquelinia californica), desert hackberry (Celtis pallida), hop bush (Dodonaea viscosa), jojoba, plumbago (P. scandens), and Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora).

Yuccas. Zones 11-13: Late in the month, plant yuccas sothey'll have some time to get established before hot weatherarrives. For small gardens, try Yucca pallida or twisted leaf yucca (Y. rupicola). If there's more space, plant beaked yucca (Y. rostrata) or blue yucca (Y. rigida).

MAINTENANCE

Fertilize. Zones 10-13: For rapid spring growth andincreased flower and fruit development, feed citrus with ahigh-nitrogen fertilizer. Give grapes, other deciduous fruits, androses a complete formula (such as 12-12-12). Water before andimmediately after you fertilize to wash the nutrients down to theroots.

Learn about low-water landscaping. On February 24 and 25, theXeriscape Council of New Mexico sponsors the 10th XeriscapeConference at the Albuquerque Convention Center (401 Second St.N.W., Albuquerque). Registrants attending the conference learnabout arid landscape design, new low-water plants, and more. OnSaturday, February 26, a trade fair, exhibitions, and seminars arefree and open to the public (8-4; www.xeriscapenm.com or505/468-1021).

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