February Gardening Tips

February Gardening Tips
for the Willamette Valley

by Rod Smith

Former Iowa Certified Nurseryman and
Oregon Certified Nursery Professional

© 2002-2024 Rodney A. Smith
All rights reserved.


Bare root, potted or burlapped plants can be planted now. Fruit trees, grapes, roses and berries first arrive in local garden centers during February.

Peas and Sweet Peas can be planted as soon as the ground is workable.

Cold tolerant vegetable seeds such as cabbage, lettuce and onions can be started indoors for earlier harvest. Plant seeds three to six weeks before they are to be transplanted outside.


Green grass continues to use nutrients through the winter, especially during a mild winter. Lawns may need another application of a fall and winter fertilizer, especially if they develop a yellowish color.


Moss grows in moist areas with little sunlight and poor air circulation, especially under trees or on the north side of a building. These same conditions discourage grass growth. Apply a moss killer or a lawn fertilizer with moss control.

Moss growth on roofs can loosen shingles and shorten the life of the roof. Moss on steps and walkways can be a safety hazard. Both can be controlled with the same moss control products.

Caution! Moss controls for lawns which contain iron can stain cement sidewalks, driveways, patios and walls. Moss controls for roofs and concrete which contain zinc can damage plants. Buy and use the right product.


Soils on the west side of the Cascades are generally acid. Most plants grow best in slightly acid soil because that allows most nutrients to be most available. Applying lime every year maintains a slightly acid soil for best growth. Lime is especially important on lawns, lilacs and roses. It discourages moss growth.


Now is the time to prune, shape and train fruit trees and grapes. Pruning removes weak or diseased branches and insures good air circulation to help prevent diseases. Summer flowering deciduous shrubs, such as hydrangeas and rose of sharon, also can be pruned now. Spring flowering shrubs, such as forsythia and lilacs, could be pruned now, but flowers will be cut off if they are pruned before they bloom. Wait until summer to prune plants that are too big, because winter pruning makes plants grow even faster.

Roses should be pruned in late February or early March to remove old, unproductive and thin, weak canes. Hybrid Teas, grandifloras and floribundas are cut to 12 to 18" tall. Tree roses are cut to a 12 to 18 inch diameter ball. Shrub roses should be left about three feet tall, but scrawny twigs smaller than a pencil or crowded canes should be removed. Climbers should be thinned if tangled.


Slugs will be after the first thing that comes up - your early bulbs and perennials. Protect them with slug baits. The spray on formulas or Sluggo are safer for pets. The best time to apply slug bait is just as hosta buds are poking up from the ground.

Many insects and diseases overwinter in branches, tree trunks, and plant debris. Dormant sprays can be the most important pest control of the year. Stronger mixtures of lime-sulfur and oil can be used when plants are dormant. Many insects and disease spores can be destroyed before they start to multiply. For best results, spray on a warm day with no rain or freezing weather expected for at least 8 hours.

WARNING!! If you click on a link and a blank screen opens, then connects to a strange website, especially if you see a robot, CLOSE THE NEW WINDOW IMMEDIATELY!! The links will work correctly after the first time.

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