This Month: What’s In Bloom, What To Plant, See And Do!
Gardening In Florida
In South Florida, January is our coldest month, but February gives us the first hint of the warmth to come. Remember, temperature is a relative beast. As a New England kid,I bundled up and carried a tool to break the ice in my horses’ water buckets on dark mornings in February. In South Florida, February days average 77 degrees. We work in the garden whenever in the day we want to. In later months we plan to get things done by morning.
“There is always in February,
some one day at least, when one
smells, the yet distant, but surely coming,
Gertrude Jekyll was perhaps the most interesting and productive garden designer of the British Arts and Crafts Movement and her natural designs ring true today. She did not want her portrait painted so the artist, William Nicholson painted her boots!
They do tell the story of a working gardener, don’t they?
During the Industrial Revolution when the middle classes were being presented with drab machine-made goods, the Arts and Crafts Movement offered handmade alternatives. Jekyll’s garden designs are for small gardens rather than the great estates. Gardeners today can learn a lot from her. Try her book with photos and diagrams. It is “The Arts and Crafts Garden” by Gertrude Jekyll and Lawrence Weaver. I bought a good-quality copy on Amazon.
Gardening In February (2024)-Authority, Prosperity,& Good Fortune
Most of us who are digging in South Florida on a February day are North Americans with a good subset of Northern Europeans. South Florida’s climate is a new adventure for us every day. Here is what is going on this month.
We visited this garden on a rare Florida mountain on a visit to Bok Tower Garden in Lake Wales. The house is in the Florida Mediterranean Revival style and they extended the theme throughout the garden. Notice the tiled steps.
February, In The South Florida Garden, Is Our Prime Growing Season
This link will take you to a chart of recommended vegetable plants to add in February in Florida’s three growing regions. The University of Florida creates this useful advice for Florida Gardeners.
What’s Happening This January In The South Florida Garden
Gardeners everywhere grow Amaryllis bulbs indoors all winter. In our South Florida gardens, we can grow them for a later bloom outdoors.
Powderpuff Bush-Calliandra haematocephala
The powder puff is a large, and fast-growing shrub that will attract bees and hummingbirds to your garden. The red buds look like new raspberries and bloom as bright pink puffballs! (You can find them in red, pink and white.) The plant will bloom repetitively throughout the year. Plant this one in sunny areas where you like to sit, the area will be entertaining all day.
Orchid Tree Bauhinia
With beautiful, large, five-petaled flowers the tree or shrub is native to India and China. Some varieties are invasive in Florida and the Caribbean. We enjoy the sterile Hong Kong Orchid tree, which is a flowering tree with an unusually long blooming period. Find them blooming in red, pink, purple, orange, or yellow.
February In The Garden-Temperature And Rainfall
Our South Florida Garden-Temperature And Precipitation
Weather is a critical element in a gardener’s life. It dictates everything we do. No matter where our gardens are we all need to know, and live by the same things:
For gardeners in our plant hardiness zone, we can expect mild temperatures and little rain. If you check the newest USDA plant hardiness zone map you will notice that we can get a temperature as low as 30 degrees F. which may require protection for the tropical plantings.
- Our plant hardiness zones
This will take you to the newest version of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Here is some help in translating the map to your needs.
Also, this is the version for Florida. You can find a map for your state and search for small areas by zip code.
- Heat Zones-How hot can it get in your garden, can your plants take the heat?
- Our Garden’s Microclimates your garden’s microclimates and plant to enhance them.
‘How To Determine Your Garden’s Microclimates’ Washington State University Extension Service’
Other Blooms In February
If you are or have been a temperate climate gardener, all of the plants you loved in summer are thriving today in our Florida gardens.
Beds and containers of annuals allow us to change the color scheme every season.
If you have a place with at least 6 hours of sun and superior drainage, in zones 10-11, and you have a place for a shrub, vine, or tree, the brilliant colors of bougainvillea will work for you.
The flowers are the tiny blooms inside, what we admire (the bright pink parts) are bracts, a modified leaf. Like the poinsettia, the bougainvillea is a plant in which the modified leaf is the attraction, not the tiny flowers.
Dombeya (Dombeya wallichii)
Also called tropical hydrangea, this large shrub is perfect if you can use privacy, and brilliant blooms throughout the cool season in zones 9-11. (You can also grow it in containers.) It is remarkably low maintenance, you will prune it, and it is happy in full and partial sun.
If you have not seen this plant, you will, as it is growing in popularity.
What To See In February
Visit Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Coral Gables Florida to see the richest display of true tropical plants anywhere in North America.
Fairchild also publishes a monthly list of blooming plants. This is a great resource for any South Florida Gardener trying to find blooms for the whole year.
What To Plant In February
February should be our second coldest month. After an unusually dry ‘wet’ season our winter thus far has been wet and on a little chilly. Plant cool season annuals, summer blooming bulbs, and all herbs are thriving in cool weather (now is the time for chervil, cilantro, and dill) add to vegetables.
- Take advantage of our mild winters and plant more annual bedding plants to enhance the garden. Annuals are a great way to try out new color combinations and shapes.
- Start warm season vegetables, eggplant, sweet potato and squash.
- Start ground cover for places where turf does not thrive.
- Add to your summer blooming bulbs.
In February, we can still grow the cool season annuals. Pansies will be gone before March, and we learned to replace the snapdragons with the similar shape of angelonia when spring comes our way. The pretty coral impatiens should shine until June.
Summer Blooming Bulbs
Plant many of the summer-blooming bulbs starting this month. (Caladiums will be shipped starting in March to gardeners in South Florida and to points north as the spring progresses.)
Grow any flavorful herbs you choose, all will perform in our cool-season gardens. If you want to grow delicate plants that do not accept our humid summers now is the time to grow them. These include chervil, cilantro, and dill.
We are eating fresh lettuce and will continue growing it as long as days are cool.
We will add some herbs in containers and when summer’s intense sun and driving rains appear we can move them to shelter and extend their useful season.
Gardeners are planners and part of the challenge is considering future conditions.
What To Do In February
In The Garden This February
- Plant trees and woody shrubs this month, they are dormant and will devote energy to growing roots and will require less water. The plants will be well established when hot weather arrives.
- Fertilize shrubs and palms.
- If cold is predicted bring delicate plants and orchids indoors or cover.
Irrigation In February
Our South Florida lawns and gardens are growing as the weather warms. Water young shrubs and trees until established. Water in the early morning whenever possible. and use a rain gauge to keep track of moisture. In 2023 our rainfall was below average, using a rain gauge will keep track of moisture.
Prune only those shrubs that do not bloom in spring and begin to prune trees to prepare for hurricane season. Pruning now will allow the plants to grow dense by spring. Also in January, it is easier to see the branching structure and there are fewer pests active at this time making the new cuttings less likely to be damaged.
Summary, February In The South Florida Garden
Each month in the garden is prime time for some beauty to enjoy, some plants to add, and some tasks to perform.
In February, South Florida gardeners look both ways, it is the tropical version of early spring in cooler climates; we may have damaging cold or beach weather every day this month. Most of what grows well this month should last until the end of May. Plant and grow any of our cool season categories and enjoy the cool season blooms.
Our mild winters are also the best time to do the heavy work in the garden. We do any major projects we can in this season leaving summer for maintenance.
References You Can Use
Florida Gardening Calendar– from UF, by region, and by month.
Gardening with Annuals in Florida– note the valuable charts showing annual varieties and what months to grow them.