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February Gardening To-Do List

Updated on January 24, 2024

Give your green thumb a workout this month to get in shape for the main event when spring arrives. There’s plenty to do to prep your garden and feed your soul, indoors and out.

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Photo: Julie King for

Force Branches for a Flowering Display

Add some natural color to your decor by cutting branches of spring flowering trees and shrubs to bring indoors for forcing. Good candidates include forsythia, flowering quince, redbud, star or tulip magnolia and flowering pear. Create a stunning arrangement by gathering stems of birch, alder or corylus, which form catkins, little dangling batons. Don’t overlook pussywillow stems, which readily root in water and can later be transplanted into your garden.

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Photo: Ball Horticultural Company

Plant Cool Season Color

Dress up your outdoor areas with pots or beds of cool-season annuals. Good choices include pansy, sweet alyssum, wallflower, flowering stock, snapdragon, lobelia and dianthus. The right time to plant these blooming beauties is when you see them for sale at local garden centers. If a late hard frost is in the forecast, you may need to cover plants. Also keep an eye out for slugs, which love feasting on flower petals.

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Photo: Image courtesy of Wild Birds Unlimited,

Spring Clean for Bluebirds

Clean out bluebird boxes and tighten any loose screws. If squirrels have been gnawing at the entrance hole of a box, buy and attach a predator guard, a metal ring that surrounds the hole and deters squirrels and woodpeckers from trying to enlarge the hole. Add a baffle to the pole supporting the birdhouse to keep critters from raiding the nestbox. Bluebirds like to use pine straw in their nests. Create a ready supply by mulching with some on your garden beds.

how to build a bluebird house

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Buy Bulbs in Bloom

Treat spring fever by snapping up pots of forced bulbs, which are readily available at many retailers this time of year. Hyacinth will flood your home with fragrance, while grape hyacinth offers a more subtle floral perfume. After flowers finish, snip spent stems, and place pots near a bright window. Keep plants alive until all danger of spring frost is past, then tuck them into the garden. Next year’s flower show might be slight, but blooms will multiply in years to come.

If potted bulbs bring fungus gnats into your home, treat them with Bti, or Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, a naturally occurring soil bacteria.

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