The Rhea County Master Gardeners meet on the third Tuesday of the month from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Master Gardener Building located at the Ag Center and Fairgrounds in Evensville. Everyone is welcome to attend and refreshments are always served. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m. This month ‘s topic is “Growing Berries and Brambles”.

The group is currently holding a plant sale, which includes: apples, grapes, muscadines, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, pears, plums, blueberries and figs. For a copy of the plant sale order form, email rheacoplantsale@gmail.com, or call the UT Extension Office at 423-775-7807.

Gardening Tips for February

February #1 (Indoor)

Sow broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage seed indoors now or buy transplants in March. Harden them off before planting out in March.

February #2 (Indoor)

Remove dust from your house plants by rinsing them in the shower.

February #3 (Indoor)

Extend the life of your Valentine’s Day flowers by changing the water daily and recutting the stems every couple of days, making sure foliage is kept above the water line.

February #1 (Outdoor)

Bluebirds are already looking for a place to nest, so clean out your birdhouse soon. If you are in need of a good bluebird house, check out Homes for Bluebirds, Inc. at http://danfinch.com/birds.htm

February #2 (Outdoor)

Barrenwort (Epimedium) and Lungwort (Pulmonaria) will be in flower soon. Cut back last year’s foliage before new growth appears.

February #3 (Outdoor)

Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) and its hybrids are one of the first plants to flower in the new year. A little cleanup makes a big difference when these winter beauties blossom. There are two thoughts on removing last year’s foliage. If you’re like me, there’s less to do in the garden now, and if I wait around until March, it may not get done. I like to cut back last year’s foliage on Helleborus before the flower stalks appear. Follow the old leaves down to the crown and remove the entire leaf stalk near the soil. In mild winters, the foliage often still looks good in February, but as the flowers and new foliage appear, the old leaves will become unsightly. The old foliage will be much more difficult to remove once the new growth has appeared. In some winters, the earliest flowers may be damaged, but I don’t mind sacrificing a few for a tidy plant later on.

February #4 (Outdoor)

For indoor forcing of blooms, cut branches of pussy willow, forsythia, flowering quince, redbud, and star and saucer magnolia. Choose stems with flower buds that have began to swell. Cut them at an angle and place in water in a cool location in your home with indirect light.

February #5 (Outdoor)

Late February and March are good times to trim trees and shrubs. If the limb is larger than 2 inches in diameter, or heavily weighted, use the three-step method for removing branches. Make the first cut on the underside of the limb about 6 inches away from the trunk, cutting about one-third of the way through the limb. On the top side, cut through the limb three to six inches beyond the first cut. Remember when pruning, to remove dead or diseased branched first, and then take out any rubbing or crossed branches. Prune to maintain a natural form unless formality is appropriate for the design.

February #6 (Outdoor)

Postpone pruning of spring-flowering and early summer-flowering shrubs like azaleas, forsythia, spirea, and mophead hydrangea until just after they flower.

February #7 (Outdoor)

Cut back monkey grass (Liriope) before new growth appears. Use a string trimmer for larger areas.

February #8 (Outdoor)

Spot-control weeds in a dormant warm-season lawn by pulling them or by applying a broadleaf weed control.

February #9 (Outdoor)

Apply dormant horticulture oil, such as Ultra-Fine, to fruit and nut trees to eliminate scale and other pests. It must be applied before spring growth appears. These oils also can control scale insects on hollies, euonymus and camellias. For best results, be sure to completely spray the entire plant including the underside of the leaves.

February #10 (Outdoor)

Soil in Tennessee tends to be acidic. Have your soil tested to see if and how much lime is needed. Your local UT Extension office can provide you with instructions on how to proceed. It takes months for lime to react with the soil, so the sooner the better. Pelletized lime is the easiest form to apply.

February #11 (Outdoor)

Green/English and sugar snap peas can be direct sown in the garden in February. In colder parts of the state, wait until the end of the month. If sown too late, they will not have time to flower and fruit before it gets too hot.

February #12 (Outdoor)

If your ornamental grasses, such as as Miscanthus, Pennisetum, Mexican feather, switchgrass and muhly grass are looking tattered and blowing about the garden, cut them back three to six inches above the ground. You can also wait until March to do this.