Upper South

February, 2006
Regional Report

Fertilize Trees and Shrubs

From mid-February until early March, fertilize deciduous trees and shrubs with an all-purpose fertilizer. Use an acid-type fertilizer for rhododendrons, azaleas, and other broad-leaf evergreens, as well as needled trees and shrubs. If using a granular type, water in thoroughly. Trees may be deep fed by drilling a series of 1- to 2-inch holes 2 feet apart around the driplines and filling them with a granular fertilizer. An alternative is to mulch with well-composted manure.

Prune Grapes

Grapes must be pruned every year at this time because once a cane fruits, it won't again, but fruits form only on buds from the previous season's growth. For the American grapes most often grown in our region, the four-arm Kniffen system is used. With this, four "arms" are trained on wire supports and each is trimmed back in winter to ten buds. In addition, four other canes are chosen as renewal spurs and trimmed back to two buds.

Make a Vegetable Garden Plan

Vegetables continually planted in the same place are susceptible to increased pests and diseases. Ideally, wait three years before replanting a crop in the same place. In creating a plan, remember that certain vegetables are related, and so should not be planted in the same place. If crop rotation is difficult in your situation, then it is imperative to clean up all debris and fertilize each year. Portions of Gardeners Factsheet No. 19 from the College of the Virgin Islands (http://rps.uvi.edu/CES/gf19.PDF) has helpful tips on rotating vegetables.

Check for Whiteflies

Whiteflies can seemingly appear overnight on houseplants, so check plants often. If the infestation is noticed early, spraying both the tops and bottoms of the leaves with tepid water may be enough. Next, try spraying with insecticidal soap. Worse case scenario, try one of the organic plant-based insecticides, such as neem or pyrethrum. With any spray, it's always key to cover both sides of the leaves.

Bring Branches Indoors

Although the witch hazels have already bloomed, branches of other spring-blooming shrubs can be cut and brought into bloom indoors. Forsythia, pussy willow, flowering quince, and crab apples are some of the best ones to try. Put the cut stems in a container filled with tepid water and set in a room that is about 50 degrees F for four or five days, then bring into normal room temperatures and arrange in a vase.

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